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Statement by the President Upon Approving a Veterans' Life Insurance and Pension Bill.

October 14, 1964

I HAVE approved H.R. 1927, a bill relating to veterans' life insurance and pension programs.

This bill will immediately increase pensions for over 1 million needy veterans, widows, and children. It will also reopen National Service Life Insurance for approximately 4 million veterans with service-incurred disabilities and for those veterans who are so seriously disabled they are no longer commercially insurable. I urge all eligible veterans to explore this opportunity to help provide financial security for their families.

This legislation also increases the options of those veterans who now carry National Service Life Insurance policies so that they can, if they so desire, convert their policies to plans providing for level premium payments during the rest of their lifetime. Many can avoid premium increases every 5 years, which grow progressively higher as they grow older, often becoming an intolerable burden in their old age when their financial resources tend to be substantially reduced.

Finally, the legislation will make important improvements in the veterans' pension program, while adhering to the principle that veterans' pensions are based on need as determined by graduated income scales and tests of disability and unemployability. Over 1 million pensioners will receive at least a cost-of-living increase of about 7 percent, and those with the lowest incomes, who are in the greatest need, will receive increases of 15 to 17 percent.

Of particular significance is the change in the pension provisions dealing with recoupment. Until now, in determining eligibility for pensions, veterans were permitted to exclude from income the lump sum value of any contributions they may have made to social security or other retirement systems. Now, H.R. 1927 substitutes a new provision spreading recoupment over the life expectancy of the individual, allowing a deduction of 10 percent annually of the benefits received by the veteran under his social security, annuity, or other retirement systems.

This legislation will substantially strengthen our services to our veterans.

Note: As enacted, H.R. 1927, approved October 13, is Public Law 88-664 (78 Stat. 1094).

Lyndon B. Johnson, Statement by the President Upon Approving a Veterans' Life Insurance and Pension Bill. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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