PUBLIC LAW 108-183 – Dec. 16, 2003
THE VETERANS BENEFIT ACT OF 2003
Prime Sponsor: Rep. Christopher H. Smith
Signed by President Bush on December 16, 2003 as P.L. 108-183
Disabled Veterans’ Benefits
Extend VA’s specially adapted housing grant to severely disabled servicemembers prior to separation from active duty service
Increase the specially adapted automobile grant from $9,000 to $11,000, and increase the specially adapted housing grants from $48,000 to $50,000 for the most severely disabled veterans and from $9,250 to $10,000 for less severely disabled veterans.
Benefits for Surviving Spouses and Children of Veterans
- Restore dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC), home loan, education, and burial benefit eligibility for spouses remarried after age 57.
- Increase monthly educational benefits for spouses and dependent children of disabled veterans from $695 to $788 for full-time study, from $522 to $592 for three-quarter time study, and from $347 to $394 for half-time study.
- Expand benefits eligibility to children with spina bifida who were born to certain Vietnam-era veterans who served in Korea near the demilitarized zone.
- Allow the surviving spouse or dependent children to receive the full amount of accrued benefits if the veteran dies while their claim is still pending.
Benefits for Former Prisoners of War and Filipino Veterans
Eliminate the 30 day requirement POWs to qualify for presumptions of service connection for certain disabilities: psychosis, any of the anxiety states, dysthymic disorder, organic residuals of frostbite, and post-traumatic osteoarthritis.
Provide full compensation and DIC to members of the new Philippine Scouts if the individual resides in the United States as a citizen or permanent resident. Also extend eligibility for burial in a national cemetery.
Veterans Education, Employment and Entrepreneurship Programs
Expand the Montgomery GI Bill program to cover self-employment training programs and entrepreneurship courses at approved institutions.
Allow federal agencies to create “sole-source” contracts for disabled veteran-owned small businesses – up to $5 million for manufacturing contract awards and up to $3 million for non-manufacturing contract awards.
Allow federal agencies to restrict certain contracts to disabled veteran-owned small businesses if at least two such concerns are qualified to bid on the contract.
Mandate that the Department of Labor place staff in veterans’ assistance offices at overseas military installations 90 days after date of enactment.
Text of The Veterans Benefits Act of 2003 (P.L. 108-183) [.pdf]