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Rep. Zeldin Introduces Bill to Require the VA to Pay Accrued Benefits to the Estate of a Deceased Veteran (HR 1569)

April 22, 2015
Press Release

Washington, DC – On Wednesday, April 22, 2015, Congressman Lee Zeldin (R, C – Shirley), member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, and Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity, announced that he has introduced legislation to require the VA to pay accrued benefits to the estate of a deceased veteran (HR 1569).

If passed and signed into law, this proposal will hold the VA accountable in paying out accrued benefit claims. In recent years, the VA has struggled to complete timely reviews of claims. Under current law, if a veteran passes away while the VA is still reviewing a claim, the VA no longer has to award the earned benefits. This bill will protect our service members by ensuring our veteran families, who rightfully earned and deserve their benefits, actually receive their benefits, even after the veteran passes away.

Last week, Congressman Zeldin spoke about his bill during a legislative hearing for the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs. The Congressman introduced the legislation last month. You can view the bill text here.

Congressman Zeldin stated, “In our current system, many of our veterans have earned service related benefits due to injuries sustained on the battlefield. Those benefits, however, can only pass to a small group of individuals should the veteran pass away. If that veteran does not have a qualifying family member and passes away, the VA recoups the benefits that rightfully belong to the veteran. As we have seen over the past year, the VA has struggled to complete timely reviews of claims, and if a veteran passes away while the VA is still reviewing a claim, the VA no longer has to award the earned benefits. H.R. 1569 would require the VA to pay certain benefits that were earned by a veteran to the veteran's estate.  Currently, only a veteran's spouse, minor child, or dependent parent(s) are eligible to collect the accrued benefits. By adding the estate to the current list of beneficiaries, adult children could now also receive the benefits earned should there be no other qualifying family members.  Service members should be able to share the benefits they have earned with their families. This bill ensures that the benefits a veteran earns during his or her service stays with their family.  Further, with the addition of this piece of legislation, the VA can no longer avoid awarding a claim to a veteran due to slow processing time.  Not only will this bill protect the benefits that our veterans have earned, but it will also help maintain stricter levels of accountability at the VA.”

You can view the Congressman’s speech here.

This is the second veterans-related bill Congressman Zeldin has introduced since taking office in January 2015.

The first bill the Congressman introduced, H.R. 1187, would eliminate the loan limit or the “maximum guarantee amount” of a loan that the VA can guarantee for a veteran.

You can read more about this bill here.