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Veterans Benefits Committee Chairman's Report 10/10/12

The Veterans Benefits Committee met on both October 4th and 5th 2012.

On Thursday we had a guest speaker Mr. Thomas J. Murphy, Director of VA
Compensation Service. He provide updated information on the VA's progress in going paperless, electronic claims and how they are processed. He also listened to and answered questions that the committee members had. The VA should be totally paperless in the claims process including the processing of all new claims. I was very impressed with the overall plan and also how veterans service officers will be able to follow their veteran's claim through the entire process.

We received the Directors report, which was also presented tot he Board by Mr. Vale. The first draft of the re-write of the Veterans Benefits Manual was reviewed, suggestionsand changes made and it will be back on the agenda for January.
We dealt with a service officer suspension/revocation.

We had a lengthy discussion on our Grant, suggestions for improving the process and discussion on changing the way grant applications are received, how and what criteria will be used to assess the applications and the processing of them for grant approval.

We will change the grant application dates to coincide with the VSF fiscal year to make the process smoother. The new deadline for the submission of applications for the VVA Veterans Benefits Grant will be March 1.

Our review of the Veterans Benefits Resolutions will be done at our January meeting.

Respectfully submitted,
John L. Margowski, Chair, Veterans Benefits Committee.

Veterans Benefits Committee Report on Convention Resolutions

The Veterans Benefits Committee, as required by Convention resolution, offers the following report on Veterans Benefits resolutions and pending federal legislation regarding enhancements and/or improvements to the many benefits that VVA’s resolutions cover. We recommended the following legislation be included in the Government Affairs Committee’s list of legislation for which it will seek successful resolution.

HR 178 Calls for an amendment to Title 10, United States Code, thereby repealing the current requirement for reduction of survivor annuities under the Survivor Benefit Plan for military surviving spouses to offset the receipt of the veterans’ dependency and indemnity compensation.

HR 303 Calls for an amendment to Title 10, United States Code, to permit additional retired members of the Armed Forces who have a service-connected disability to receive both disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs for their disability and either retired pay by reason of their years of military service or Combat-related Special Compensation. The bill also calls for the elimination of the phase-in period under current law with respect to such concurrent receipt.

Both of the following bills are related to VB-12 DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS (DVA) SERVICE-CONNECTED DISABILITY COMPENSATION PAYMENTS & MILITARY RETIRED PAY OFFSET as it applies to veterans and their survivors.

HR 1484, the Veterans Appeals Improvement Act of 2011, deals with improving the appeals process of the Department of Veterans Affairs and establishing a commission to study judicial review of the determination of veteran’s benefits. This bill contains language applicable to VB-7 Class Actions AT U.S. COURT OF APPEALS FOR VETERANS CLAIMS and VB-9 DVA IMPLIMINTATION OF U.S. COURT OF APPEALS FOR VETERANS CLAIMS DECISIONS.

There are other pieces of legislation which have been referred to the Government Affairs Committee by the Veterans Benefits Committee, which that directly affect our members and their survivors.

With regard to VB-13 PRESERVATION OF VVA SERVICE REPRESENTATION AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL, attorneys have been added to the VVA national staff. The Veterans Benefits Committee is seeking more funds for the Veterans Benefits programs operated by VVA through our chapters and state councils. There has been an increase in the number of grants requests for financial support through our Veterans Benefits Grant program.

--Respectfully submitted by John Margowski, Chair, Veterans Benefits Committee.

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