S 1148

Version: Introduced
Author: Murray

112th CONGRESS

1st Session

S. 1148

To amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the provision of assistance to homeless veterans, to improve the regulation of fiduciaries who represent individuals for purposes of receiving benefits under laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

June 6, 2011

MRS. MURRAY introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs

A BILL

To amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the provision of assistance to homeless veterans, to improve the regulation of fiduciaries who represent individuals for purposes of receiving benefits under laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SEC. 1. SHORT TITLE; TABLE OF CONTENTS

(a) SHORT TITLE This Act may be cited as the " Veterans Programs Improvement Act of 2011 ".

(b) TABLE OF CONTENTS The table of contents for this Act is as follows:

Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.

Sec. 2. References to title 38, United States Code.

TITLE I -- Homeless veterans matters

Sec. 101. Enhancement of comprehensive service programs.

Sec. 102. Modification of grant program for homeless veterans with special needs.

Sec. 103. Modification of authority for provision of treatment and rehabilitation to certain veterans to include provision of treatment and rehabilitation to homeless veterans who are not seriously mentally ill.

Sec. 104. Plan to end veteran homelessness.

Sec. 105. Extension of certain authorities relating to homeless veterans.

Sec. 106. Reauthorization of appropriations for homeless veterans reintegration program.

Sec. 107. Reauthorization of appropriations for financial assistance for supportive services for very low-income veteran families in permanent housing.

Sec. 108. Reauthorization of appropriations for grant program for homeless veterans with special needs.

TITLE II -- Fiduciary matters

Sec. 201. Appointment of caregivers and persons named under durable power of attorney as fiduciaries for purposes of benefits under laws administered by Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Sec. 202. Access by Secretary of Veterans Affairs to financial records of individuals represented by fiduciaries and receiving benefits under laws administered by Secretary.

Sec. 203. Confidential nature of credit reports and documents pertaining to the appointment of a fiduciary.

Sec. 204. Authority for certain persons to sign claims filed with Secretary of Veterans Affairs on behalf of claimants.

Sec. 205. Improvement of process for filing jointly for social security and dependency and indemnity compensation.

Sec. 206. Durable power of attorney defined.

TITLE III -- Other administrative and benefits matters

Sec. 301. Occupancy of property by dependent child of veteran for purposes of meeting occupancy requirement for Department of Veterans Affairs housing loans.

Sec. 302. Waiver of loan fee for individuals with disability ratings issued during pre-discharge programs.

Sec. 303. Extension of authority for assistance for individuals residing temporarily in housing owned by family members.

Sec. 304. Indexing of levels of assistance for individuals residing temporarily in housing owned by family members.

Sec. 305. Expansion of eligibility for presidential memorial certificates to persons who died in the active military, naval, or air service.

Sec. 306. Automatic waiver of agency of original jurisdiction review of new evidence.

Sec. 307. Extension of authorities of Secretary of Veterans Affairs to use information from other agencies.

Sec. 308. Extension of authority for regional office of Department of Veterans Affairs in Republic of the Philippines.

SEC. 2. REFERENCES TO TITLE 38, UNITED STATES CODE Except as otherwise expressly provided, whenever in this Act an amendment or repeal is expressed in terms of an amendment to, or repeal of, a section or other provision, the reference shall be considered to be made to a section or other provision of title 38, United States Code.

TITLE I HOMELESS VETERANS MATTERS --

SEC. 101. ENHANCEMENT OF COMPREHENSIVE SERVICE PROGRAMS

(a) ENHANCEMENT OF GRANTS Section 2011 is amended --

(1) in subsection (b)(1)(A), by striking "expansion, remodeling, or alteration of existing facilities, or acquisition of facilities, " and inserting "new construction of facilities, expansion, remodeling, or alteration of existing facilities, or acquisition of facilities "; and

(2) in subsection (c) --

(A) in the first sentence, by striking "A grant " and inserting "(1) A grant ";

(B) in the second sentence of paragraph (1), as designated by subparagraph (A), by striking "The amount " and inserting the following:

" (2) The amount " ; and

(C) by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

" (3)

" (A) The Secretary may not deny an application from an entity that seeks a grant under this section to carry out a project described in subsection (b)(1)(A) solely on the basis that the entity proposes to use funding from other private or public sources, if the entity demonstrates that a private nonprofit organization will provide oversight and site control for the project.

" (B) In this paragraph, the term "private nonprofit organization " means the following:

" (i) An incorporated private institution, organization, or foundation --

" (I) that has received, or has temporary clearance to receive, tax-exempt status under paragraph (2), (3), or (19) of section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986;

" (II) for which no part of the net earnings of the institution, organization, or foundation inures to the benefit of any member, founder, or contributor of the institution, organization, or foundation; and

" (III) that the Secretary determines is financially responsible.

" (ii) A for-profit limited partnership or limited liability company, the sole general partner or manager of which is an organization that is described by subclauses (I) through (III) of clause (i).

" (iii) A corporation wholly owned and controlled by an organization that is described by subclauses (I) through (III) of clause (i). " .

(b) GRANT AND PER DIEM PAYMENTS

(1) STUDY AND DEVELOPMENT OF PAYMENT METHOD Not later than one year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall --

(A) complete a study of all matters relating to the method used by the Secretary to make per diem payments under section 2012(a) of title 38, United States Code; and

(B) develop an improved method for adequately reimbursing recipients of grants under section 2011 of such title for services furnished to homeless veterans.

(2) CONSIDERATION In developing the method required by paragraph (1)(B), the Secretary may consider payments and grants received by recipients of grants described in such paragraph from other departments and agencies of Federal and local governments and from private entities.

(3) REPORT Not later than one year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall submit to Congress a report on --

(A) the findings of the Secretary with respect to the study required by subparagraph (A) of paragraph (1);

(B) the method developed under subparagraph (B) of such paragraph; and

(C) any recommendations of the Secretary for revising the method described in subparagraph (A) of such paragraph and any legislative action the Secretary considers necessary to implement such method.

(c) AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS Section 2013 is amended by striking "subchapter " and all that follows through the period and inserting the following: "subchapter amounts as follows:

" (1) $150,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2007 through 2009.

" (2) $175,100,000 for fiscal year 2010.

" (3) $217,700,000 for fiscal year 2011.

" (4) $250,000,000 for fiscal year 2012 and each fiscal year thereafter. " .

SEC. 102. MODIFICATION OF GRANT PROGRAM FOR HOMELESS VETERANS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS

(a) INCLUSION OF ENTITIES ELIGIBLE FOR COMPREHENSIVE SERVICE PROGRAM GRANTS AND PER DIEM PAYMENTS FOR SERVICES TO HOMELESS VETERANS Subsection (a) of section 2061 is amended --

(1) by striking "to grant and per diem providers " and inserting "to entities eligible for grants and per diem payments under sections 2011 and 2012 of this title "; and

(2) by striking "by those facilities and providers " and inserting "by those facilities and entities ".

(b) INCLUSION OF MALE HOMELESS VETERANS WITH MINOR DEPENDENTS Subsection (b) of such section is amended --

(1) in paragraph (1), by striking ", including women who have care of minor dependents ";

(2) in paragraph (3), by striking "or ";

(3) in paragraph (4), by striking the period at the end and inserting "; or "; and

(4) by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

" (5) individuals who have care of minor dependents. " .

(c) AUTHORIZATION OF PROVISION OF SERVICES TO DEPENDENTS Such section is further amended --

(1) by redesignating subsection (c) as subsection (d); and

(2) by inserting after subsection (b) the following new subsection (c):

" (c) PROVISION OF SERVICES TO DEPENDENTS A recipient of a grant under subsection (a) may use amounts under the grant to provide services directly to a dependent of a homeless veteran with special needs who is under the care of such homeless veteran while such homeless veteran receives services from the grant recipient under this section. " .

SEC. 103. MODIFICATION OF AUTHORITY FOR PROVISION OF TREATMENT AND REHABILITATION TO CERTAIN VETERANS TO INCLUDE PROVISION OF TREATMENT AND REHABILITATION TO HOMELESS VETERANS WHO ARE NOT SERIOUSLY MENTALLY ILL Section 2031(a) is amended in the matter before paragraph (1) by striking ", including " and inserting "and to ".

SEC. 104. PLAN TO END VETERAN HOMELESSNESS

(a) IN GENERAL Not later than one year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall submit to Congress a comprehensive plan to end homelessness among veterans.

(b) ELEMENTS The plan required by subsection (a) shall include the following:

(1) An analysis of programs of the Department of Veterans Affairs and other departments and agencies of the Federal Government that are designed to prevent homelessness among veterans and assist veterans who are homeless.

(2) An evaluation of whether and how coordination between the programs described in paragraph (1) would contribute to ending homelessness among veterans.

(3) Recommendations for improving the programs described in paragraph (1), enhancing coordination between such programs, or eliminating programs that are no longer effective.

(4) Recommendations for new programs to prevent and end homelessness among veterans, including an estimate of the cost of such programs.

(5) A timeline for implementing the plan, including milestones to track the implementation of the plan.

(6) Benchmarks to measure the effectiveness of the plan and the efforts of the Secretary to implement the plan.

(7) Such other matters as the Secretary considers necessary.

(c) CONSIDERATION OF VETERANS LOCATED IN RURAL AREAS The analysis, evaluation, and recommendations included in the report required by subsection (a) shall include consideration of the circumstances and requirements that are unique to veterans located in rural areas.

SEC. 105. EXTENSION OF CERTAIN AUTHORITIES RELATING TO HOMELESS VETERANS

(a) HEALTH CARE FOR HOMELESS VETERANS Section 2031(b) is amended by striking "December 31, 2011 " and inserting "December 31, 2014 ".

(b) CENTERS FOR PROVISION OF COMPREHENSIVE SERVICES TO HOMELESS VETERANS Section 2033(d) is amended by striking "December 31, 2011 " and inserting "December 31, 2014 ".

(c) PROPERTY TRANSFERS FOR HOUSING ASSISTANCE FOR HOMELESS VETERANS Section 2041(c) is amended by striking "December 31, 2011 " and inserting "December 31, 2014 ".

(d) ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON HOMELESS VETERANS Section 2066(d) is amended by striking "December 30, 2011 " and inserting "December 30, 2013 ".

SEC. 106. REAUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS FOR HOMELESS VETERANS REINTEGRATION PROGRAM Section 2021(e)(1) is amended adding at the end the following new subparagraph:

" (G) $50,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2012 and 2013. " .

SEC. 107. REAUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS FOR FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE FOR SUPPORTIVE SERVICES FOR VERY LOW-INCOME VETERAN FAMILIES IN PERMANENT HOUSING

(a) IN GENERAL Section 2044(e) is amended --

(1) in paragraph (1), by adding at the end the following new subparagraph:

" (D) $100,000,000 for fiscal year 2012. " ; and

(2) in paragraph (3), by striking "2011 " and inserting "2012 ".

(b) TECHNICAL AMENDMENT Paragraph (1) of such section is further amended by striking "carry out subsection (a), (b), and (c) " and inserting "carry out subsections (a), (b), and (c) ".

SEC. 108. REAUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS FOR GRANT PROGRAM FOR HOMELESS VETERANS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS Section 2061(c)(1) is amended by striking "2011 " and inserting "2013 ".

TITLE II FIDUCIARY MATTERS --

SEC. 201. APPOINTMENT OF CAREGIVERS AND PERSONS NAMED UNDER DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY AS FIDUCIARIES FOR PURPOSES OF BENEFITS UNDER LAWS ADMINISTERED BY SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS

(a) IN GENERAL Subsection (a) of section 5502 is amended --

(1) by redesignating paragraph (2) as paragraph (4); and

(2) in paragraph (1) by striking "Where, in " and inserting the following:

" (2) In the absence of special circumstances the Secretary determines necessitate otherwise, payment to a fiduciary under paragraph (1) shall be made to the person or entity caring for or having primary custody of the beneficiary or the beneficiary's estate, including a person or entity who has been named by the incompetent beneficiary under a durable power of attorney.

" (3) Where, in " .

(b) CLARIFICATION REGARDING DISTRIBUTION OF BENEFITS WHEN PAYMENT SUSPENDED OR WITHHELD FROM FIDUCIARY Subsection (d) of such section is amended to read as follows:

"(d)(1) All or any part of any benefits the payment of which is suspended or withheld under this section may, in the discretion of the Secretary, be paid temporarily to the person having custody and control of the incompetent or minor beneficiary, to be used solely for the benefit of such beneficiary, or, in the case of an incompetent veteran, may be apportioned to the dependent or dependents, if any of such veteran.

" (2)

" (A)

" (i) Any part not so paid and any funds of a mentally incompetent veteran not paid to the chief officer of the institution in which such veteran is a patient nor apportioned to the veterans' dependent or dependents may be ordered held in the Treasury to the credit of such beneficiary.

" (ii) All funds so held shall be disbursed under the order and in the discretion of the Secretary for the benefit of such beneficiary or the beneficiary's dependents.

" (B)

" (i) Except as provided in this subparagraph or as otherwise provided by law, any balance remaining in such fund to the credit of any beneficiary may be paid to the beneficiary if the beneficiary recovers and is found competent, or if a minor, attains majority, or otherwise to the beneficiary's fiduciary, or, in the event of the beneficiary's death, to the beneficiary's personal representative.

" (ii) Payment shall not be made to the beneficiary's personal representative under clause (i) if, under the law of the beneficiary's last legal residence, the beneficiary's estate would escheat to the State.

" (iii) In the event of the death of a mentally incompetent veteran, all gratuitous benefits under laws administered by the Secretary deposited before or after August 7, 1959, in the personal funds of patients trust fund on account of such veteran shall not be paid to the personal representative of such veteran, but shall be paid to the following persons living at the time of settlement, and in the order named:

" (I) The surviving spouse.

" (II) The children (without regard to age or marital status), in equal parts.

" (III) The dependent parents of such veteran, in equal parts.

" (iv) If any balance remains after the application of clause (iii), such balance shall be deposited to the credit of the applicable current appropriation, except that there may be paid only so much of such balance as may be necessary to reimburse a person (other than a political subdivision of the United States) who bore the expenses of last sickness or burial of the veteran for such expenses.

" (v) No payment shall be made under clauses (iii) or (iv) unless claim therefor is filed with the Secretary within five years after the death of the veteran, except that, if any person so entitled under such clauses is under legal disability at the time of death of the veteran, such five-year period of limitation shall run from the termination or removal of the legal disability. " .

(c) CLARIFICATION THAT DEFINITION OF FIDUCIARY INCLUDES PERSONS NAMED UNDER DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY Section 5506(1) is amended by inserting ", including a person named as an agent under a durable power of attorney " before "; or ".

SEC. 202. ACCESS BY SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS TO FINANCIAL RECORDS OF INDIVIDUALS REPRESENTED BY FIDUCIARIES AND RECEIVING BENEFITS UNDER LAWS ADMINISTERED BY SECRETARY

(a) IN GENERAL Section 5502, as amended by section 201, is further amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:

"(f)(1) The Secretary may require any person or State or local governmental entity appointed or recognized as a fiduciary for a Department beneficiary under this section to provide authorization for the Secretary to obtain (subject to the cost reimbursement requirements of section 1115(a) of the Right to Financial Privacy Act of 1978 ( 12 U.S.C. 3415 )) from any financial institution any financial record held by the institution with respect to an account of the fiduciary or the beneficiary which contains an amount paid by the Secretary to the fiduciary for the benefit of the beneficiary whenever the Secretary determines that the financial record is necessary --

" (A) for the administration of a program administered by the Secretary; or

" (B) in order to safeguard the beneficiary's benefits against neglect, misappropriation, misuse, embezzlement, or fraud.

" (2) Notwithstanding section 1104(a)(1) of such Act ( 12 U.S.C. 3404(a)(1) ), an authorization provided by a fiduciary under paragraph (1) with respect to a beneficiary shall remain effective until the earliest of --

" (A) the approval by a court or the Secretary of a final accounting of payment of benefits under any law administered by the Secretary to a fiduciary on behalf of such beneficiary;

" (B) in the absence of any evidence of neglect, misappropriation, misuse, embezzlement, or fraud, the express revocation by the fiduciary of the authorization in a written notification to the Secretary; or

" (C) the date that is three years after the date of the authorization.

" (3)

" (A) An authorization obtained by the Secretary pursuant to this subsection shall be considered to meet the requirements of the Right to Financial Privacy Act of 1978 ( 12 U.S.C. 3401 et seq. ) for purposes of section 1103(a) of such Act ( 12 U.S.C. 3403(a) ), and need not be furnished to the financial institution, notwithstanding section 1104(a) of such Act (12 U.S.C. 3404(a)), if the Secretary provides a copy of the authorization to the financial institution.

" (B) The certification requirements of section 1103(b) of such Act ( 12 U.S.C. 3403(b) ) shall not apply to requests by the Secretary pursuant to an authorization provided under this subsection.

" (C) A request for a financial record by the Secretary pursuant to an authorization provided by a fiduciary under this subsection is deemed to meet the requirements of section 1104(a)(3) of such Act ( 12 U.S.C. 3404(a)(3) ) and the matter in section 1102 of such Act ( 12 U.S.C. 3402 ) that precedes paragraph (1) of such section if such request identifies the fiduciary and the beneficiary concerned.

" (D) The Secretary shall inform any person or State or local governmental entity who provides authorization under this subsection of the duration and scope of the authorization.

" (E) If a fiduciary of a Department beneficiary refuses to provide, or revokes, any authorization to permit the Secretary to obtain from any financial institution any financial record concerning benefits paid by the Secretary for such beneficiary, the Secretary may, on that basis, revoke the appointment or the recognition of the fiduciary for such beneficiary and for any other Department beneficiary for whom such fiduciary has been appointed or recognized. If the appointment or recognition of a fiduciary is revoked, benefits may be paid as provided in subsection (d).

" (4) For purposes of section 1113(d) of such Act ( 12 U.S.C. 3413(d) ), a disclosure pursuant to this subsection shall be considered a disclosure pursuant to a Federal statute.

" (5) In this subsection:

" (A) The term "financial institution " has the meaning given such term in section 1101 of such Act ( 12 U.S.C. 3401 ), except that such term shall also include any benefit association, insurance company, safe deposit company, money market mutual fund, or similar entity authorized to do business in any State.

" (B) The term "financial record " has the meaning given such term in such section. " .

(b) MODIFICATION OF DEFINITION OF FIDUCIARY TO INCLUDE STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTAL ENTITIES Section 5506, as amended by section 201(c), is further amended --

(1) by inserting "or State or local governmental entity " after "person " each place it appears; and

(2) in paragraph (1), by striking "who " and inserting "that ".

(c) CONFORMING AMENDMENT Section 5508 is amended --

(1) by striking "or agency " both places it appears and inserting "or State or local governmental entity "; and

(2) in the heading, by striking " institutional ".

SEC. 203. CONFIDENTIAL NATURE OF CREDIT REPORTS AND DOCUMENTS PERTAINING TO THE APPOINTMENT OF A FIDUCIARY

(a) CREDIT REPORTS AND CRIMINAL BACKGROUND REPORTS Section 5507 is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:

" (e) Except as provided under section 5701 of this title, credit reports obtained under subsection (a)(1)(C) and criminal background reports obtained under subsection (b) shall be segregated from the claimant's file and may be disclosed only by a signed release executed by the person to whom it relates. " .

(b) FILES, RECORDS, AND REPORTS Section 5701 is amended --

(1) in subsection (a) --

(A) by inserting "(1) " before "All "; and

(B) by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

" (2) All files, records, reports, and other papers and documents pertaining to any credit report, criminal background evaluation, or financial record obtained in connection with the evaluation, appointment, or removal of a person who is considered for appointment or has been appointed a fiduciary for a beneficiary under chapter 55 of this title and the names and addresses of such persons in the possession of the Department shall be confidential and privileged, and no disclosure thereof shall be made except as provided in this section. " ;

(2) in subsection (b) --

(A) by redesignating paragraphs (2) through (6) as paragraphs (3) through (7), respectively;

(B) by inserting after paragraph (1) the following new paragraph (2):

" (2) Except as otherwise provided by law, to a person who has submitted personal identifying information, financial information, or criminal background information to the Department in connection with an appointment as a fiduciary for a beneficiary as to matters concerning such person or duly authorized agent or representative of such person upon written request of the person or agent. " ; and

(C) in paragraph (3), as redesignated by subparagraph (A) --

(i) by inserting "(A) " before "When "; and

(ii) by adding at the end the following new subparagraph:

" (B) Unless a court orders otherwise, in an electronic or paper filing with a court that contains an individual's social security number, TIN (within the meaning of section 7701(a)(41) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986), claim number, birth date, the name of an individual known to be a minor, the name of an individual who has been determined by the Secretary to be incompetent under chapter 55 of this title, or a financial-account number, a party or nonparty making the filing shall include only the following:

" (i) The last four digits of the person's social security number, TIN, or claim number.

" (ii) The year of the individual's birth.

" (iii) The initials of the individual known to be a minor or determined to be incompetent.

" (iv) The last four digits of the financial account number. " ; and

(3) in subsection (h)(2) --

(A) in subparagraph (A), by striking "who has " and all that follows through "an offer " and inserting the following: "who --

" (i) has applied for any benefit under chapter 37 of this title;

" (ii) is, or is being considered for an appointment as, a fiduciary for a beneficiary for monetary benefits provided under this title; or

" (iii) has submitted an offer " ;

(B) by redesignating subparagraphs (B) through (D) as subparagraphs (C) through (E), respectively; and

(C) by inserting after subparagraph (A) the following new subparagraph (B):

" (B) verifying, either before or after the Secretary has approved a person to serve as a fiduciary for a beneficiary under chapter 55 of this title, the creditworthiness, credit capacity, income, or financial resources of such person; " .

SEC. 204. AUTHORITY FOR CERTAIN PERSONS TO SIGN CLAIMS FILED WITH SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS ON BEHALF OF CLAIMANTS

(a) IN GENERAL Section 5101 is amended --

(1) in subsection (a) --

(A) by striking "A specific " and inserting "(1) A specific "; and

(B) by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

" (2) If an individual has not attained the age of 18 years, is mentally incompetent, or is physically unable to sign a form, a form filed under paragraph (1) for the individual may be signed by a court-appointed representative, a person who is responsible for the care of the individual, including a spouse or other relative, or an attorney in fact or agent authorized to act on behalf of the individual under a durable power of attorney. If the individual is in the care of an institution, the manager or principal officer of the institution may sign the form. " ;

(2) in subsection (c) --

(A) in paragraph (1) --

(i) by inserting ", signs a form on behalf of an individual to apply for, " after "who applies for "; and

(ii) by inserting ", or TIN in the case that the person is not an individual, " after "of such person "; and

(B) in paragraph (2), by inserting "or TIN " after "social security number " each place it appears; and

(3) by adding at the end the following new subsection:

" (d) In this section:

" (1) The term "mentally incompetent " with respect to an individual means that the individual lacks the mental capacity --

" (A) to provide substantially accurate information needed to complete a form; or

" (B) to certify that the statements made on a form are true and complete.

" (2) The term "TIN " has the meaning given the term in section 7701(a)(41) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. " .

(b) APPLICABILITY The amendments made by subsection (a) shall apply with respect to claims filed on or after the date of the enactment of this Act.

SEC. 205. IMPROVEMENT OF PROCESS FOR FILING JOINTLY FOR SOCIAL SECURITY AND DEPENDENCY AND INDEMNITY COMPENSATION Section 5105 is amended --

(1) in subsection (a) --

(A) by striking "shall " and inserting "may "; and

(B) by striking "Each such form " and inserting "Such forms "; and

(2) in subsection (b), by striking "on such a form " and inserting "on any document indicating an intent to apply for survivor benefits ".

SEC. 206. DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY DEFINED Section 101 is amended by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

" (34) The term "durable power of attorney " means a written document signed by a person appointing an individual to act on the person's behalf for the purposes stated in the document and which contains words "This power of attorney is not affected by subsequent disability or incapacity of the principal ", "This power of attorney becomes effective on the disability or incapacity of the principal ", or similar words showing the principal's intent that the authority conferred on the attorney in fact or agent shall be exercised notwithstanding the principal's subsequent disability, incapacity, or incompetence. " .

TITLE III OTHER ADMINISTRATIVE AND BENEFITS MATTERS --

SEC. 301. OCCUPANCY OF PROPERTY BY DEPENDENT CHILD OF VETERAN FOR PURPOSES OF MEETING OCCUPANCY REQUIREMENT FOR DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS HOUSING LOANS Paragraph (2) of section 3704(c) is amended to read as follows:

" (2) In any case in which a veteran is in active-duty status as a member of the Armed Forces and is unable to occupy a property because of such status, the occupancy requirements of this chapter shall be considered to be satisfied if --

" (A) the spouse of the veteran occupies or intends to occupy the property as a home and the spouse makes the certification required by paragraph (1) of this subsection; or

" (B) a dependent child of the veteran occupies or will occupy the property as a home and the veteran's attorney-in-fact or legal guardian of the dependent child makes the certification required by paragraph (1) of this subsection. " .

SEC. 302. WAIVER OF LOAN FEE FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITY RATINGS ISSUED DURING PRE-DISCHARGE PROGRAMS Paragraph (2) of section 3729(c) is amended to read as follows:

" (2)

" (A) A veteran described in subparagraph (B) shall be treated as receiving compensation for purposes of this subsection as of the date of the rating described in such subparagraph without regard to whether an effective date of the award of compensation is established as of that date.

" (B) A veteran described in this subparagraph is a veteran who is rated eligible to receive compensation --

" (i) as the result of a pre-discharge disability examination and rating; or

" (ii) based on a pre-discharge review of existing medical evidence (including service medical and treatment records) that results in the issuance of a memorandum rating. " .

SEC. 303. EXTENSION OF AUTHORITY FOR ASSISTANCE FOR INDIVIDUALS RESIDING TEMPORARILY IN HOUSING OWNED BY FAMILY MEMBERS Section 2102A(e) is amended by striking "December 31, 2011 " and inserting "December 31, 2021 ".

SEC. 304. INDEXING OF LEVELS OF ASSISTANCE FOR INDIVIDUALS RESIDING TEMPORARILY IN HOUSING OWNED BY FAMILY MEMBERS Section 2102A(b) is amended --

(1) by redesignating paragraphs (1) and (2) as subparagraphs (A) and (B), respectively;

(2) in the matter before subparagraph (A), as redesignated by paragraph (1), by inserting "(1) " before "The "; and

(3) by adding at the end the following new paragraph (2):

" (2) Effective on October 1 of each year (beginning in 2011), the Secretary shall use the same percentage calculated pursuant to section 2102(e) of this title to increase the amounts described in paragraph (1) of this subsection. " .

SEC. 305. EXPANSION OF ELIGIBILITY FOR PRESIDENTIAL MEMORIAL CERTIFICATES TO PERSONS WHO DIED IN THE ACTIVE MILITARY, NAVAL, OR AIR SERVICE Section 112(a) is amended --

(1) by inserting "and persons who died in the active military, naval, or air service, " after "under honorable conditions, "; and

(2) by striking "veteran's " and inserting "deceased individual's ".

SEC. 306. AUTOMATIC WAIVER OF AGENCY OF ORIGINAL JURISDICTION REVIEW OF NEW EVIDENCE

(a) IN GENERAL Section 7105 is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:

"(e)(1) If, either at the time or after the agency of original jurisdiction receives a substantive appeal, the claimant or the claimant's representative, if any, submits evidence to either the agency of original jurisdiction or the Board of Veterans' Appeals for consideration in connection with the issue or issues with which disagreement has been expressed, such evidence shall be subject to initial review by the Board unless the claimant or the claimant's representative, as the case may be, requests in writing that the agency of original jurisdiction initially review such evidence.

" (2) A request for review of evidence under paragraph (1) shall accompany the submittal of the evidence. " .

(b) EFFECTIVE DATE Subsection (e) of such section, as added by subsection (a), shall take effect on the date that is 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, and shall apply with respect to claims for which a substantive appeal is filed on or after the date that is 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.

SEC. 307. EXTENSION OF AUTHORITIES OF SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS TO USE INFORMATION FROM OTHER AGENCIES

(a) AUTHORITY TO OBTAIN INFORMATION FROM SECRETARY OF TREASURY AND COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY FOR INCOME VERIFICATION PURPOSES Section 5317(g) is amended by striking "September 30, 2011 " and inserting "September 30, 2016 ".

(b) AUTHORITY TO USE DATA PROVIDED BY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES FOR PURPOSES OF ADJUSTING VETERANS BENEFITS

(1) IN GENERAL Section 5317A(d) is amended by striking "September 30, 2011 " and inserting "September 30, 2021 ".

(2) CONFORMING AMENDMENT Section 453(j)(11)(G) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 653(j)(11)(G)) is amended by striking "September 30, 2011 " and inserting "September 30, 2021 ".

SEC. 308. EXTENSION OF AUTHORITY FOR REGIONAL OFFICE OF DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS IN REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES Section 315(b) is amended by striking "December 31, 2011 " and inserting "December 31, 2012 ".

 
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