---- -----..----Iit~i(t*d _- _.-.._.. . - “-.. .._...--.-. --._ St,at,w ---<ieuttr;tl Acwunt,ing Offiw _ GAO I’act, Shwt for the Chairman, Committee on the Judictiary, House of Representatives ~~- - - sq,l~‘lttlw1’ I !)!)O VETERANS’ BENEFITS Information on Noncitizen Veterans Receiving VA Disability Compensation 142184 GAO United States General Accounting Office Washington, D.C. 20648 Human Resources Division B-240486 September 12,199O The Honorable Jack Brooks Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary House of Representatives Dear Mr. Chairman: This fact sheet responds to your February 7, 1990, request for informa- tion about the number of noncitizen veterans who served less than 3 years in the military and are receiving disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Your office also requested information on the nature of the disabilities for which such veterans are being compensated. From time to time foreign citizens volunteer for and are inducted into Background the U.S. armed forces. Such people who have been discharged from the armed forces under conditions other than dishonorable are entitled to benefits administered by VA. Some became disabled and were discharged from military service before completing 3 years of service. Under current law (8 USC. 1439(a)) noncitizen veterans who have served at least 3 years of military service may petition for naturaliza- tion, without having to reside in the United States for the 5-year natu- ralization period otherwise required. The veteran must petition, however, while in the military service or within 6 months after termi- nating military service. Legislation (S. 1186) has been introduced to eliminate the 3-year requirement for veterans who were discharged because they had become disabled. The proposed legislation would allow veterans who served for any period and were separated for a service-connected disability to qualify for naturalization. Such veterans would still need to petition while in the military service or within 6 months after separation. We used VA’S October 1989 automated benefit payment file to estimate Scope.and the number of noncitizen veterans with less than 3 years’ military ser- Methodology vice who are receiving VA disability compensation. From this file, we u extracted all veterans who have less than 3 years’ military service and whose payments are sent to foreign addresses. We extracted data on addresses because citizenship data are not in VA’S automated records. This approach is limited in that it includes veterans, if any, who are U.S. Page 1 GAO/HRDM-163Fs information on Noncitizen Veterans B-240486 citizens but have their payments sent to foreign countries. Conversely, it does not include non-U.S. citizens residing in the United States who fit our criteria. Therefore, our estimates should be taken as general indica- tors of the numbers of noncitizens involved and not as exact figures. We obtained information from the payment file on the nature (type and extent) of the disabilities for veterans included in our total. We also queried the Department of Defense (DOD) to obtain information on the number of noncitizens discharged from the armed forces because of a disability incurred before they completed 3 years’ military service, as well as the number of noncitizens currently serving in the armed forces. DOD, however, does not maintain such data in a format that we could use for our estimates. We reviewed the specific sections of the current law (8 U.S.C. 1439) to be affected by S. 1186. Our audit work was performed from February through June 1990. We sought the views of VA and M)D officials during our work and incorpo- rated their comments where appropriate. Based on VA data, table 1 shows, by country, the number of disabled Disabled Veterans by veterans with foreign addresses and less than 3 years of service. Country Page 2 GAO/HRIMO-163FS Information on Noncitizen Veterans Table 1: Disabled Veterans With Less Than 3 Years’ Military Servlce Whose Country Number of cases Payments Are Sent to Foreign Philippines 3,735 Addresses Canada 693 Germany 393 Great Britain 166 Mexico 146 Italy 132 Australia & New Guinea 80 Greece 71 Ireland 66 France 6.5 Israel (West of Jordan River) 50 SDain 48 Panama 46 Costa Rica 44 Jaoan. Okinawa. & Rvu Rvo Island 42 Switzerland 35 Israel 26 Dominican Republic 24 Norwav 24 Sweden 20 Columbia 20 Countries with fewer than 20 cases 351 Total 6,277 Veterans in table 1 and many who will be discharged in the future may not be eligible for citizenship even if the proposed legislation is enacted. If veterans in table 1 have not already petitioned for naturalization, they would not be eligible because they have all been separated from the military for more than 6 months. Also, many Filipinos in table 1 may not be eligible for citizenship without living in the United States for 5 years because they served in the Philippines forces rather than the U.S. military. Finally, the Director of VA'S Compensation and Pension Service told us that in some cases, VA is unable to determine within 6 months whether a veteran’s disability is service-connected- a requirement for citizenship under the proposed legislation. Thus, VA officials believe that in the future some veterans may not petition for citizenship within 6 months of their discharge. Page 3 GAO/HRD-90-163FS Information on Noncitizen Veterans B240436 DOD officials told us that the Dkpartment does not maintain data to esti- mate the number of noncitizens discharged because of a disability incurred before they completed 3 years’ service or the number of non- citizens currently serving in the armed forces. DOD, however, estimated that about 7,500 noncitizens entered the military in fiscal year 1989. Veterans are eligible for disability compensation if they are partially or Degrees of Disability totally disabled by injury or disease incurred or aggravated during mili- for Veterans tary service. Eligible veterans are assigned disability ratings ranging from 0 to 100 percent, according to the severity of the disability when compared to VA'S Schedule for Rating Disabilities. This rating establishes the amount of monthly compensation paid to disabled veterans (see table 2). Table 2: Degree of Disability for Veterans With Lees Than 3 Years’ Military Service Number of Percent of Whose Payments Are Sent to Foreign Degree of disability (percent) cases cases Addresses 0 175 2.8 10 1,906 30.4 20 962 15.3 30 970 15.4 40 570 9.1 50 474 7.6 60 317 5.0 70 215 3.4 80 88 1.4 90 33 0.5 100 567 9.0 Total 6,277 VA categorizes veterans’ disabilities into 14 body systems. Table 3 shows Types of Disabilities the number of disabilities by body system for the 6,277 disabled vet- erans with less than 3 years of service and a foreign mailing address. Some veterans have more than one disability; thus the number of disa- bilities is much larger than the number of cases. Page 4 GAO/HRDM-163l% Information on Noncitizen Veterans B-240486 Table 3: Types of Disabilities of Veterans With Less Than 3 Years’ Mllltary Service Type of disabilities Number of disabilities Whose Payments Are Sent to Foreign Musculoskeletal 5,875 Addresses Skin 1,959 ResDiratorv 1,206 Mental disorders 1,073 Eyes, ears, smell, and taste 948 Diaestive 698 Neurolonical and convulsive 596 Cardiovascular 459 Svstemic diseases 357 Genitourinarv 265 Endocrine 74 Dental 58 Hemic and IvmDhatic 45 GynecoloQical 18 We are sending copies of this fact sheet to appropriate congressional committees; the Secretary of VA; the Secretary of Defense; the Director, Office of Management and Budget; and other interested parties. Please call me on (202) 275-6193 if you or your staff have any questions about it. Other major contributors to this fact sheet are listed in the appendix. Sincerely yours, Joseph F. Delfico c/ Director, Income Security Issues Page 6 GAO/HRIM@163FS Information on Noncitizen Veterans Appendix I Major Contributors to This Fact Sheet James F. Walsh, Assistant Director, (202) 2336281 Human Resources Neil N. Miller, Assignment Manager Division, Joe A. Vance, Evaluator-in-Charge Washington, D.C. Joan Vogel, Evaluator (Computer Science) (106706) Page 6 GAO/HRD90-163FS Information on Noncitizen Veterans -..._--.-_-_- _._.. - -....-.- ----.- --- Ortlvring Information
Veterans' Benefits: Information on Noncitizen Veterans Receiving VA Disability Compensation
Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1990-09-12.
Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)