Number: 110-15
Date: November 8, 2007

House Passes H.R. 3997, the Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax (HEART) Act of 2007

On November 6, 2007, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3997, the Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax (HEART) Act of 2007, by a vote of 410 – 0. In addition to tax provisions, the bill would amend Title XVI of the Social Security Act to provide more favorable consideration of certain income for military families, veterans and AmeriCorps volunteers. SSI-related provisions of H.R. 3997 would:

•  Treat most cash military compensation as earned income for SSI purposes, thus allowing the service member to benefit from the SSI program's more favorable consideration of earned income.

•  Codify SSA's policy regarding consideration of privatized military housing allowances. In situations where the allowance is withdrawn directly from a service member's pay by military payroll and paid to the landlord, the allowance would be considered in-kind income and the SSI benefit reduction attributable to the housing allowance would be capped at one-third of the Federal Benefit Rate. In other cases, housing allowances would be considered earned income.

•  Exclude State-provided pensions for aged, blind or disabled veterans (or their spouses) from income consideration for SSI purposes. Currently only five States ( Delaware , Massachusetts , New Jersey , New York , and Pennsylvania ) offer such pensions.

•  Exclude any cash or in-kind benefits provided under an AmeriCorps program from income consideration for SSI purposes. Under current law, AmeriCorp VISTA payments are already excluded from such consideration, but AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps and Americorps State/National program payments are countable.

•  Be effective for benefits payable for months beginning 60 days after enactment.