Tester pushes benefits for grieving families of fallen heroes
Senator’s bipartisan bill provides immediate VA payments during time of grief
(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester wants to save the families of America’s fallen heroes from facing financial hardship during their time of grief.
Tester is introducing a bipartisan bill that will provide immediate VA support for up to six months to the widows and widowers of service members and veterans who die as a result of a service-connected condition.
Surviving spouses of fallen servicemembers must currently apply to receive survivor benefits – monthly VA payments to the families of service members and veterans whose death is a result of a service-connected illness or injury. To gain eligibility, they must file a claim immediately upon the death of their loved one and wait for a process that often takes several months. During this time, these families often confront a number of financial hardships, including bankruptcy.
“The families of our fallen heroes must be given time to mourn without worrying how to make ends meet,” said Tester, Montana’s only member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “This bill gives grieving military families the certainty they need to get through the toughest months so they can start to get back on their feet. “
Tester’s bipartisan Military Family Relief Act would provide immediate support to widows and widowers who, upon the death of their loved one, stop receiving their spouse’s pension checks and endure a prolonged period without income before their VA claim is processed. These surviving spouses are usually elderly and depend upon their spouse’s pension for the majority of their income.
Tester’s bill is supported by Disabled American Veterans, the Military Officers Association of America, and the Retired Enlisted Association. Tester is also a co-sponsor of a similar bipartisan bill that will ensure that the surviving families of fallen service members and veterans get the benefits they deserve by ending the deduction of Survivor Benefit Plan money from a family’s Dependency and Indemnity Compensation.
Tester’s bipartisan Military Family Relief Act, which is sponsored by Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), is available below.