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Rule

The Veterans Millennium Health Care and Benefits Act

Action

Final Rule.

Summary

This document amends Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) adjudication regulations to reflect changes made by the Veterans Millennium Health Care and Benefits Act. These changes concern payment of dependency and indemnity compensation to the surviving spouses of certain former prisoners of war; the provision of health care, education and home loan benefits to surviving spouses upon termination of their remarriages; and the addition of bronchiolo-alveolar carcinoma to the list of diseases that VA presumes are the result of exposure to radiation during active military service.

Unified Agenda

Veterans Millennium Health Care and Benefits Act

1 action from June 2000

  • June 2000
    • Final Action
 

Table of Contents Back to Top

DATES: Back to Top

Effective Dates: The amendments to 38 CFR 3.22 and 3.309 are effective November 30, 1999. The amendment to 38 CFR 3.55 is effective December 1, 1999.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Back to Top

Bill Russo (211), Attorney-Advisor, Compensation and Pension Service, Veterans Benefits Administration, 810 Vermont Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20420, telephone (202) 273-7210.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Back to Top

On November 30, 1999, the President signed into law the Veterans Millennium Health Care and Benefits Act, Pub. L. 106-117 (the Act). Three provisions of the Act directly affect the payment of VA benefits. These provisions concern: (1) Payment of dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC) to the surviving spouses of certain former prisoners of war (POWs); (2) provision of health care, education and home loan benefits to surviving spouses upon termination of their remarriages; and (3) addition of bronchiolo-alveolar carcinoma to the list of diseases that VA presumes are the result of exposure to radiation during active military service.

DIC benefits are generally payable to the survivors of veterans who died from their service-connected disabilities. In addition, 38 U.S.C. 1318 authorizes VA to pay DIC benefits to survivors of veterans whose deaths were not service-connected but who were continuously rated totally disabled due to service-connected disabilities for ten years or more immediately preceding the veteran's death, or for five years from the date of such veteran's discharge. Section 501 of Pub. L. 106-117 authorizes payment of DIC to the survivors of former POWs who died after September 30, 1999, and who were continuously rated totally disabled due to a service-connected disability for a period of not less than one year immediately preceding death. This provision is effective November 30, 1999, the date of enactment. This document amends 38 CFR 3.22, to reflect this change.

In 1998, Pub. L. 105-178 restored eligibility to DIC to a surviving spouse of a veteran if that person's subsequent remarriage had been terminated by death or divorce, or if a subsequent relationship had been terminated. Eligibility to DIC was restored effective October 1, 1998. This law restored eligibility only to DIC. Eligibility to ancillary benefits—including VA Civilian Health Care and Medical Program (CHAMPVA), chapter 35 education, and home loan guaranty benefits—was not restored.

Section 502 of Pub. L. 106-117 restores eligibility to health care benefits under 38 U.S.C. chapter 17 (CHAMPVA), education benefits under chapter 35, and home loan guaranty benefits under chapter 37 to a surviving spouse if his or her remarriage has been terminated by death or divorce, or if a surviving spouse has ceased living with another person and holding himself or herself out openly to the public as that person's spouse. Section 502 states that its changes shall take effect on the first day of the first month beginning after the month in which the Act is enacted, i.e., December 1, 1999. This document amends 38 CFR 3.55 to reflect these changes.

Section 503 of the Act adds bronchiolo-alveolar carcinoma to the list of diseases that VA presumes result from exposure to radiation during active military service. This provision of the law is effective November 30, 1999. This document amends 38 CFR 3.309(d) to reflect these changes.

The Secretary hereby certifies that this regulatory amendment will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities as they are defined in the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), 5 U.S.C. 601-612. These amendments would not directly affect any small entities. Only VA beneficiaries could be directly affected. Therefore, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 605(b), these amendments are exempt from the initial and final regulatory flexibility analysis requirements of sections 603 and 604.

The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance program numbers are 64.100, 64.101, 64.104, 64.105, 64.106, 64.109, and 64.110.

List of Subjects in 38 CFR Part 3 Back to Top

Approved: June 28, 2000.

Togo D. West, Jr.,

Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

begin regulatory text

For the reasons set forth in the preamble, 38 CFR part 3 is amended as follows:

PART 3—ADJUDICATION Back to Top

Subpart A—Pension, Compensation, and Dependency and Indemnity Compensation Back to Top

1.The authority citation for part 3, subpart A continues to read as follows:

Authority:

38 U.S.C. 501(a), unless otherwise noted.

2.Section 3.22 is amended by:

A. In paragraph (a)(2)(i), removing the word “or” after the semi-colon at the end of the paragraph.

B. In paragraph (a)(2)(ii), removing the period at the end of the paragraph and adding, in its place, “; or”.

C. Adding paragraph (a)(2)(iii) to read as follows:

§ 3.22 DIC benefits for survivors of certain veterans rated totally disabled at the time of death.

(a) * * *

(2) * * *

(iii) Rated by VA as totally disabling for a continuous period of not less than one year immediately preceding death, if the veteran was a former prisoner of war who died after September 30, 1999.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 1318(b))

* * * * *

3.Section 3.55 is amended by redesigning paragraphs (a)(4), (a)(5), and (a)(6) as paragraphs (a)(5), (a)(6) and (a)(8), respectively; and adding new paragraphs (a)(4) and (a)(7) to read as follows:

§ 3.55 Reinstatement of benefits eligibility based upon terminated marital relationships.

(a) * * *

(4) On or after December 1, 1999, remarriage of a surviving spouse terminated by death, divorce, or annulment, will not bar the furnishing of benefits relating to medical care for survivors and dependents under 38 U.S.C. 1713, educational assistance under 38 U.S.C. chapter 35, or housing loans under 38 U.S.C. chapter 37, unless the Secretary determines that the divorce or annulment was secured through fraud or collusion.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 103(d))

* * * * *

(7) On or after December 1, 1999, the fact that a surviving spouse has lived with another person and has held himself or herself out openly to the public as the spouse of such other person will not bar the furnishing of benefits relating to medical care for survivors and dependents under 38 U.S.C. 1713, educational assistance under 38 U.S.C. chapter 35, or housing loans under 38 U.S.C. chapter 37 to the surviving spouse if he or she ceases living with such other person and holding himself or herself out openly to the public as such other person’s spouse.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 103(d)).

* * * * *

4.Section 3.309 is amended by adding paragraph (d)(2)(xvi) and an authority citation after the Note to read as follows:

§ 3.309 Disease subject to presumptive service connection.

* * * * *

(d) * * *

(2) * * *

(xvi) Bronchiolo-alveolar carcinoma.

* * * * *

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 1112(c)(2))

end regulatory text

[FR Doc. 00-17901 Filed 7-13-00; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 8320-01-P

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