Walorski Introduces Bill to Increase Military Death Benefits
U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) recently introduced legislation to double the survivor benefits paid immediately after the death of a servicemember while on active duty. The bill would decrease by the same amount payments made to the families of Members of Congress who die in office. H.R. 5982 would increase the death gratuity paid to the families of servicemembers who die on active duty from $100,000 to $200,000. The bill would also mandate that 60 percent of the death gratuity be reserved for the surviving spouse, allowing servicemembers to designate recipients for the remaining 40 percent. The death gratuity program provides for an immediate, tax-free, cash payment of $100,000 to eligible survivors of members of the Armed Forces who die while on active duty or while serving in certain reserve statuses. The death gratuity is the same regardless of the cause of death. The longstanding purpose of the death gratuity has been to assist survivors of deceased servicemembers in meeting immediate financial needs, such as funeral costs, before any other survivor benefits become available. H.R. 5982 would also reduce by $100,000 the death gratuity paid to surviving spouses or children of deceased Members of Congress through the appropriations process. This one-time payment, which is customarily equal to the Member’s annual salary, would be capped at $74,000.
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