S 874

112th CONGRESS
1st Session

S. 874

To amend title 38, United States Code, to modify the provision of compensation and pension to surviving spouses of veterans in the months of the deaths of the veterans, to improve housing loan benefits for veterans, and for other purposes.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

May 3, 2011

Mr. AKAKA 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 modify the provision of compensation and pension to surviving spouses of veterans in the months of the deaths of the veterans, to improve housing loan benefits for veterans, and for other purposes.

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

SECTION 1. MODIFICATION OF MONTH OF DEATH BENEFIT FOR SURVIVING SPOUSES OF VETERANS WHO DIE WHILE ENTITLED TO COMPENSATION OR PENSION.

    (a) Surviving Spouse Benefit for Month of Veteran's Death- Subsections (a) and (b) of section 5310 of title 38, United States Code, are amended to read as follows:

    `(a) In General- (1) A surviving spouse of a veteran is entitled to a benefit for the month of the veteran's death if at the time of the veteran's death--

      `(A) the veteran was receiving compensation or pension under chapter 11 or 15 of this title; or

      `(B) the veteran was not receiving compensation or pension under chapter 11 or 15 of this title but the veteran had a claim pending for the month of the veteran's death for which benefits would have been payable under chapter 11 or 15 of this title had the veteran not died.

    `(2) The amount of benefit under paragraph (1) is the amount that the veteran would have received under chapter 11 or 15 of this title for the month of the veteran's death had the veteran not died.

    `(3) Any benefits payable under this section on behalf of a veteran who was not in receipt of such benefits as of the month of the veteran's death shall be paid to the surviving spouse as accrued benefits.

    `(b) Claims Pending Adjudication- If a claim for entitlement to compensation or additional compensation under chapter 11 of this title or pension or additional pension under chapter 15 of this title is pending at the time of a veteran's death and the check or other payment issued to the veteran's surviving spouse under subsection (a) is less than the amount of the benefit the veteran would have been entitled to for the month of death pursuant to the adjudication of the pending claim, an amount equal to the difference between the amount to which the veteran would have been entitled to receive under chapter 11 or 15 of this title for the month of the veteran's death had the veteran not died and the amount of the check or other payment issued to the surviving spouse shall be treated in the same manner as an accrued benefit under section 5121 of this title.'.

    (b) Month of Death Benefit Exempt From Delayed Commencement of Payment- Section 5111(c)(1) of such title is amended by striking `apply to' and all that follows through `death occurred' and inserting the following: `not apply to payments made pursuant to section 5310 of this title'.

    (c) Prohibition on Requests for Return of Certain Checks and Payments- In the case of a surviving spouse who was a dependent with respect to whom additional compensation for dependents was payable under section 1115 of title 38, United States Code, or additional pension as a married veteran under chapter 15 of such title, as of the date of the veteran's death, if a check or other payment issued to the veteran as a benefit payment under chapter 11 or 15 of title 38, United States Code, for the month in which death occurs is negotiated, deposited, or otherwise accessed by the surviving spouse--

      (1) the check or payment shall be considered to be the benefit payable to the surviving spouse under section 5310(a)(1) of title 38, United States Code (as amended by subsection (a)), to the extent that the check or payment equals the amount which would otherwise be payable under such section; and

      (2) the Secretary may not require the surviving spouse to return the check or payment.

    (d) Effective Date- The amendments made by this section shall take effect on the date of the enactment of this Act, and shall apply with respect to deaths that occur on or after that date.

SEC. 2. ELIGIBILITY FOR PRESIDENTIAL MEMORIAL CERTIFICATES OF INDIVIDUALS WHO DIE WHILE SERVING IN THE ACTIVE MILITARY, NAVAL, OR AIR SERVICE.

    Section 112 of title 38, United States Code, is amended--

      (1) by amending subsection (a) to read as follows:

    `(a)(1) At the request of the President, the Secretary may conduct a program for honoring the memory of covered individuals by preparing and sending to eligible recipients a certificate bearing the signature of the President and expressing the country's recognition of the covered individual's service in the Armed Forces.

    `(2) The award of a certificate to one eligible recipient shall not preclude authorization of another certificate if a request is received from some other eligible recipient.';

      (2) by redesignating subsections (b) and (c) as subsections (c) and (d), respectively; and

      (3) by inserting after subsection (a) the following new subsection (b):

    `(b) For purposes of this section, a covered individual is any of the following:

      `(1) A deceased veteran discharged under honorable conditions.

      `(2) An individual who dies while serving in the active military, naval, or air service.'.

SEC. 3. MODIFICATION TO AUTHORIZE SATISFACTION OF OCCUPANCY REQUIREMENT ON PROPERTY FINANCED WITH HOUSING LOAN BENEFITS FOR VETERANS BY OCCUPANCY OF DEPENDENT CHILDREN.

    Paragraph (2) of section 3704(c) of title 38, United States Code, 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 veteran's spouse occupies or intends to occupy the property as a home and the spouse makes the certification required by paragraph (1); or

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

SEC. 4. COVENANTS AND LIENS CREATED BY PUBLIC ENTITIES IN RESPONSE TO DISASTER-RELIEF ASSISTANCE.

    Paragraph (3) of section 3703(d) of title 38, United States Code, is amended to read as follows:

    `(3)(A) Any real estate housing loan (other than for repairs, alterations, or improvements) shall be secured by a first lien on the realty. In determining whether a loan is so secured, the Secretary may either disregard or allow for subordination to a superior lien created by a duly recorded covenant running with the realty in favor of--

      `(i) a public entity that has provided or will provide assistance in response to a major disaster as declared by the President under section 401 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5170); or

      `(ii) a private entity to secure an obligation to such entity for the homeowner's share of the costs of the management, operation, or maintenance of property, services, or programs within and for the benefit of the development or community in which the veteran's realty is located, if the Secretary determines that the interests of the veteran borrower and of the Government will not be prejudiced by the operation of such covenant.

    `(B) With respect to any superior lien described in subparagraph (A) created after June 6, 1969, the Secretary's determination under clause (ii) of such subparagraph must have been made prior to the recordation of the covenant.'.

END