Magazine article VFW Magazine

Veterans Benefits Expanded

Magazine article VFW Magazine

Veterans Benefits Expanded

Article excerpt

LEGISLATION

Effective Oct. 1,1998, an estimated 500,000 veterans and their survivors began benefiting from H.R. 2400-the so-called transportation billwhich was signed into law on June 9. It includes a package of enhanced benefits.

"It is one of the largest expansions of veterans benefits since the Persian Gulf War, said House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Bob Stump (R-Ariz.). "It is all the more significant coming at a time of reducing the size of the federal government in general."

The provisions, called the Veterans Benef ts Improvement Act of 1998 and part of H.R. 2400, will provide $1.6 billion over five years.

The changes include increasing the basic monthly full-time Montgomery GI Bill education rate by 20% from $440 to $528. That provision will help an estimated 386,000 veterans during the first year.

Also included is a 20% increase in education benefits for surviving dependents of veterans who either died or are disabled from service-connected causes. The educational provisions benefit both college students and those enrolled in cooperative, correspondence, apprentice and flight training courses.

Severely disabled veterans also will see increases from $38,000 to $43,000 in adaptive housing grants and from $5,500 to $8,000 in adaptive automobile allowances.

"These programs allow those veterans to purchase homes adapted to their needs and to meet the rising cost of automobiles," Stump said.

Both the adaptive housing and adaptive automobile programs will increase by $10 million over five years, according to Stump's office.

Low income disabled veterans needing full-time aid and attendance of another person will receive an increase of $600 a year. A prepared statement from the HVAC said this alternative to nursing home care will increase benefits by $200 million over five years and will affect about 62,000 veterans in the first year.

Stump said the new law also allows the surviving spouse of a veteran to resume receiving benefits under the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) program if a subsequent remarriage ends. That change repeals a 1990 law, according to Stump, and will bring a $433 million increase in benefits over five years to about 6,000 surviving spouses.

Pending Veterans Bills

At press time, several veterans-related bills were pending in Congress. …

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