[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 182 (Thursday, September 19, 2013)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 57486-57487]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-22764]



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DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS

38 CFR Part 3

RIN 2900-AO31


Eligibility of Disabled Veterans and Members of the Armed Forces 
With Severe Burn Injuries for Financial Assistance in the Purchase of 
an Automobile or Other Conveyance and Adaptive Equipment

AGENCY: Department of Veterans Affairs.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) adopts as a final rule 
its proposal to amend its adjudication regulation concerning a 
certificate of eligibility for financial assistance in the purchase of 
an automobile or other conveyance and adaptive equipment, which was 
published in the Federal Register on November 5, 2012, and republished 
for minor technical corrections on November 26, 2012. The amendment is 
necessary to incorporate statutory changes made by the Veterans' 
Benefits Act of 2010.

DATES: Effective Date: This rule is effective October 21, 2013.
    Applicability Date: This final rule shall apply to claims for 
benefits under 38 U.S.C. 3901 and 3902 received by VA on or after 
October 1, 2011, and to any such claims pending before VA on that date.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Nancy Copeland, Consultant, 
Regulations Staff (211D), Compensation Service, Veterans Benefits 
Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Avenue NW., 
Washington, DC 20420, (202) 461-9695. (This is not a toll-free number.)

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Section 803 of Public Law 111-275, the 
Veterans' Benefits Act of 2010, amended subsection 3901(1)(A) of Title 
38, United States Code (U.S.C.), by reformatting the statute and adding 
``severe burn injury (as determined pursuant to regulations prescribed 
by the Secretary)'' as one of the disabilities that VA will consider 
when making a determination of eligibility for financial assistance in 
the purchase of an automobile or other conveyance and adaptive 
equipment. That statutory change took effect on October 1, 2011, and 
applies to determinations of eligibility for such financial assistance 
on or after that date.
    The purpose of 38 U.S.C. 3901 and 3902 is to provide an automobile 
allowance and adaptive equipment to veterans having certain severe 
disabilities that may impair their ability to operate a standard motor 
vehicle. Prior to the enactment of the Veterans' Benefits Act of 2010, 
the automobile allowance was authorized only for the loss or permanent 
loss of use of one or both hands or feet or for permanent impairment of 
vision of both eyes. In discussing the extension of this benefit to 
veterans with severe burn injuries, the Chairman of the Senate 
Committee on Veterans' Affairs explained that, ``[d]ue to the severe 
damage done to their skin, individuals with these disabilities 
experience difficulty operating a standard automobile not equipped to 
accommodate their disabilities'' and that the legislation ``would help 
them obtain vehicles with special adaptations for assistance in and out 
of the vehicle, seat comfort, and climate control.'' 156 Cong. Rec. 
S7656 (daily ed. Sept. 28, 2010) (statement of Chairman Akaka).
    In the proposed rule, VA proposed a definition of the term ``severe 
burn injury'' and proposed to add that term, as so defined, to VA's 
regulation identifying the conditions that determine entitlement for a 
certificate of eligibility for financial assistance in the purchase of 
an automobile or other conveyance and adaptive equipment. In addition, 
VA proposed to amend the regulation title and authority citation to add 
clarity and mirror the statutory provisions of 38 U.S.C. 3901 and 3902. 
On November 26, 2012, at 77 FR 70389, VA published a minor technical 
correction that did not substantively change the proposed rule.
    We provided a 60-day comment period. Interested persons were 
invited to submit comments on or before January 4, 2013. We received 
two comments, both of which supported the proposed rule. VA appreciates 
these positive comments and makes no changes based on them.
    The notice of proposed rulemaking stated that VA will apply this 
rule to all claims for benefits received on or after October 1, 2011. 
VA has determined that it would be appropriate to apply this rule also 
to claims that were filed prior to October 1, 2011, but have not yet 
been finally decided. The applicability date summary in this notice, 
therefore, includes reference to such pending claims and refers 
specifically to claims for benefits under 38 U.S.C. 3901 and 3902 to 
indicate the type of claim to which the rule applies.
    Therefore, based on the rationale set forth in the proposed rule, 
published in the Federal Register at 77 FR 66419 on November 5, 2012, 
and amended for minor technical corrections at 77 FR 70389 on November 
26, 2012, we are adopting the proposed rule as a final rule with no 
changes.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    This final rule contains no provisions constituting a collection of 
information under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-
3521).

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Secretary hereby certifies that this final rule will not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities 
as they are defined in the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 601-
612. This final rule will not affect any small entities. Only VA 
beneficiaries could be directly affected. Therefore, pursuant to 5 
U.S.C. 605(b), this rulemaking is exempt from the initial and final 
regulatory flexibility analysis requirements of sections 603 and 604.

Executive Orders 12866 and 13563

    Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 direct agencies to assess the 
costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives and, when 
regulation is necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize 
net benefits (including potential economic, environmental, public 
health and safety effects, and other advantages; distributive impacts; 
and equity). Executive Order 13563 (Improving Regulation and Regulatory 
Review) emphasizes the importance of quantifying both costs and 
benefits, reducing costs, harmonizing rules, and promoting flexibility. 
Executive Order 12866 (Regulatory Planning and Review) defines a 
``significant regulatory action'' requiring review by the Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB), unless OMB waives such review, as ``any 
regulatory action that is likely to result in a rule that may: (1) Have 
an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more or adversely 
affect in a material way the economy, a sector of the economy, 
productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public health or 
safety, or State, local, or tribal governments or communities; (2) 
Create a serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an action 
taken or planned by another agency; (3) Materially alter the budgetary 
impact of entitlements, grants, user fees, or loan programs or the 
rights and obligations of recipients thereof; or (4) Raise novel legal 
or policy issues arising out of legal mandates, the President's 
priorities, or the principles set forth in this Executive Order.''
    The economic, interagency, budgetary, legal, and policy 
implications of this final rule have been

[[Page 57487]]

examined, and it has been determined not to be a significant regulatory 
action under Executive Order 12866. VA's impact analysis can be found 
as a supporting document at http://www.regulations.gov, usually within 
48 hours after the rulemaking document is published. Additionally, a 
copy of the rulemaking and its impact analysis are available on VA's 
Web site at http://www1.va.gov/orpm/, by following the link for ``VA 
Regulations Published.''

Unfunded Mandates

    The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 requires, at 2 U.S.C. 
1532, that agencies prepare an assessment of anticipated costs and 
benefits before issuing any rule that may result in the expenditure by 
State, local, and tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the 
private sector, of $100 million or more (adjusted annually for 
inflation) in any one year. This final rule will have no such effect on 
State, local, and tribal governments, or on the private sector.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance

    The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance program numbers and 
titles for this rule are 64.013, Veterans Prosthetic Appliances; 
64.100, Automobiles and Adaptive Equipment for Certain Disabled 
Veterans and Members of the Armed Forces; and 64.109, Veterans 
Compensation for Service-Connected Disability.

Signing Authority

    The Secretary of Veterans Affairs, or designee, approved this 
document and authorized the undersigned to sign and submit the document 
to the Office of the Federal Register for publication electronically as 
an official document of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Jose D. 
Riojas, Interim Chief of Staff, Department of Veterans Affairs, 
approved this document on July 23, 2013, for publication.

List of Subjects in 38 CFR Part 3

    Administrative practice and procedure, Claims, Disability benefits, 
Health care, Pensions, Radioactive materials, Veterans, Vietnam.

    Dated: September 16, 2013.
Robert C. McFetridge,
Director, Office of Regulation Policy and Management, Office of the 
General Counsel, Department of Veterans Affairs.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, VA amends 38 CFR part 3 as 
follows:

PART 3--ADJUDICATION

Subpart A--Pension, Compensation, and Dependency and Indemnity 
Compensation

0
1. The authority citation for part 3, subpart A continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority:  38 U.S.C. 501(a), unless otherwise noted.


0
2. Amend Sec.  3.808 as follows:
0
a. Revise the section heading.
0
b. Redesignate paragraph (b)(4) as (b)(5).
0
c. Add a new paragraph (b)(4).
0
d. Revise the authority citation at the end of paragraph (b).
    The addition and revisions read as follows:


Sec.  3.808  Automobiles or other conveyances and adaptive equipment; 
certification.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (4) Severe burn injury: Deep partial thickness or full thickness 
burns resulting in scar formation that cause contractures and limit 
motion of one or more extremities or the trunk and preclude effective 
operation of an automobile.
* * * * *

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 3901, 3902)

* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2013-22764 Filed 9-18-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 8320-01-P