Section 5. Veterans' benefits shall be paid to a veteran or dependent by the city or town wherein he resides; provided, that no benefits shall be paid to a veteran unless he has actually resided within the commonwealth for 1 day preceding the date of his application for such benefits, nor to any dependent of a veteran unless he has actually resided within the commonwealth continuously for three years next preceding the date of his application for such benefits, nor unless the veteran of whom he is a dependent has actually resided within the commonwealth continuously for three years next preceding the date of such dependent's application for such benefits. If the veteran is deceased at the time of the dependent's application for benefits, and the veteran died while a resident of the commonwealth, the commissioner may, notwithstanding the foregoing proviso, authorize such benefits to such dependent actually residing in the commonwealth at the time of the veteran's death; provided, however, any veteran who actually resided in the commonwealth at the time of his entry into or continuance in active military or naval service of the United States and the dependents of such veteran shall be eligible for benefits without any waiting period.
Veterans' benefits shall not be subject to trustee process, and no assignment thereof shall be valid. Only such amount shall be paid to or for any veteran or dependent as may be necessary to afford him sufficient relief or support and such benefits shall not be paid to any person who is able to support himself or who is in receipt of income from any source sufficient for his support. The applicant's receipt of income from any source in an amount insufficient for his support shall not bar him from receiving veterans' benefits to supplement the same, if determined necessary by the commissioner. No payment of benefits shall be made for any period of time prior to the date of application; provided, however, that the commissioner, on recommendation of the veterans' agent of the city or town paying the benefits, may authorize the payment of benefits for not more than sixty days prior to the date of the application if the necessity therefor has been caused by serious accident or illness to the applicant or to one or more dependents of the veteran upon whose service the application is made.
No veterans' benefits shall be paid to or for any veteran who has been dishonorably discharged from any national soldiers' or sailors' home or from a soldiers' home in this commonwealth, or to or for his dependents, unless the commissioner shall otherwise determine; nor to or for any applicant convicted of a crime, if the veterans' agent and the commissioner shall so rule; and, unless the commissioner, at his discretion, shall otherwise determine, no veterans' benefits shall be paid to or for any veteran who neglects to support his dependents nor to or for any dependents of such veteran, nor to or for any veteran or applicant if the necessity therefor is caused by his voluntary idleness or continuous vicious habits nor to or for any dependents of such veteran or applicant; but dependents of a deceased veteran shall not be deemed ineligible to receive such benefits by reason of any negligence of such veteran, when alive, to support them. No veteran who is or shall otherwise be entitled to veterans' benefits shall lose his right thereto by reason of his absence from the commonwealth while receiving hospital treatment, under orders of the United States Veterans' Administration, at any hospital located outside the commonwealth, nor shall the right of his dependents thereto be lost while he is actually receiving such hospital treatment by reason of their absence from the commonwealth to accompany him.
No veteran or dependent shall be compelled to receive veterans' benefits without his consent. He shall receive such benefits at home, or at such other place as the veterans' agent may deem proper, but he shall not be compelled to receive the same at an infirmary or public institution unless his physical or mental condition so requires, or, if a minor, unless his parents or guardians so elect. The veterans' agent or the commissioner may require a person to whom veterans' benefits are granted to pay over his United States pension or compensation to them to be expended for his relief before receiving such benefits. In the event that the necessity for the granting of veterans' benefits to any veteran or any dependent of a veteran is caused by unemployment, accident or illness of or to such veteran or dependent and monetary remuneration is provided therefor whether by workers' compensation, accident or health insurance, or otherwise, or by legal responsibility of a tortfeasor liable for financial damages to such veteran or dependent therefor, the veterans' agent or the commissioner may require such veteran or dependent to assign to him the whole or any portion of the financial proceeds to be realized from such workers' compensation, accident or health insurance, or otherwise, or the whole or any portion of the financial damages to be recovered from such tortfeasor whether by settlement, arbitration, court action, or otherwise. Such assignment shall operate as a lien on such financial proceeds or financial damages to an amount equivalent to the total expenditures of veterans' benefits allowed to such veteran or dependent, and said lien may be enforced by petition to the district court within the jurisdiction of which the city or town of payment is located.
Nothing in this chapter shall be deemed to prohibit the granting of veterans' benefits by a city or town in excess of the amount authorized or approved by the commissioner in any particular case, or the paying of such benefits as may be necessary to meet the emergency needs of any applicant prior to the date of the approval by the commissioner of the payment of benefits under any such application if the veterans' agent making such grant or payment forthwith furnishes the commissioner with a written statement of his reasons for taking such action.
All benefits available to dependents of veterans as provided by this chapter shall be extended to the mother of any member of the armed forces of the United States whose death occurred as the result of injury sustained or disease contracted during active service in time of war or insurrection, including active service in the said armed forces under the flag of the United Nations; provided, that such a mother qualifies in her own right as to the requirements of residence notwithstanding the failure of the deceased veteran to so qualify at the time of his death and notwithstanding lack of proof of the actual dependency of such a mother upon such a veteran at the time of his death. Such benefits shall include payment of reasonable medical and hospital expenses in accordance with regulations adopted by the commissioner and directives issued and promulgated by him; provided, that no back benefits shall be paid beyond the date of application.
Effective July first of every year, subject to appropriation, cities and towns shall increase the basic budget of each eligible recipient, before taking into consideration any available income and resources, by a percentage amount equal to the percentage rise in the United States Consumer Price Index for January first of that year over the level of said index for January first of the previous year plus such additional percentage amount as is recommended annually by the commissioner and appropriated by the general court.
The benefits provided herein shall include an amount for fuel in the winter months for eligible veterans and dependents if they pay their own heating costs.