From survivor benefits to fraud concerns to cutting through red tape for some of the most deserving veterans, MOAA spent Wednesday morning pressing a key House subcommittee on several pieces of legislation designed to improve earned benefits.
Cory Titus, MOAA’s director of Government Relations for veteran benefits and Guard/Reserve affairs, shared MOAA’s support for four pieces of legislation under consideration by the House Veterans Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs. He joined representatives from Disabled American Veterans, Women Veteran Social Justice Network, and the Wounded Warrior Project at the virtual hearing, which also included a panel of VA officials.
While MOAA’s written testimony to the subcommittee contained the organization’s position on more than a dozen pending bills and draft legislation – read the full testimony at this link – Titus focused on four bills as part of his remarks. Here’s a bit about each bill:
H.R. 4772: Commonsense Clothing Reform
- What: The Mark O’Brien VA Clothing Allowance Improvement Act would reverse requirements forcing veterans with permanent injuries to apply annually for a clothing allowance.
- Why: Removing this barrier would help many of the 40,000 veterans approved for such an allowance last year, most of whom will continue to receive this earned benefit and should not be subject to more paperwork.
- From MOAA: “We should remove unnecessary administrative barriers wherever possible,” Titus told lawmakers, “and a great place to focus on is the improvement of the clothing allowance process for tens of thousands of veterans with lifelong conditions.”
H.R. 4633: Helping Fraud Victims
- What: The Veteran Fraud Reimbursement Act would help the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) reimburse veterans faster if they are the victims of fiduciary fraud or misuse.
- Why: Current law limits the VBA’s ability to reissue benefits to the veteran automatically – a report found it takes about 468 days for a veteran to reclaim lost funds under the existing process, and $1.7 million in money likely headed to defrauded veterans remains in limbo, awaiting negligence determinations.
- From MOAA: Titus told the subcommittee the bill would “expedite reimbursement reviews, cut through red tape, and help veterans, many on fixed incomes, recover” after financial catastrophe.
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H.R. 3793: Protecting SGLI and VGLI
- What: The Supporting Families of the Fallen Act would raise the maximum policy amounts for Servicemembers’ and Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI and VGLI) to $500,000, up from $400,000, helping keep up with inflation.
- Why: These coverage amounts haven’t been adjusted since 2005, and this benefit does not come with a cost-of-living adjustment.
- From MOAA: Learn more about MOAA’s support for this bill in both houses of Congress, and click here to ask your lawmakers to co-sponsor the legislation.
H.R. 3402: Parity for Survivors
- What: The Caring for Survivors Act would put Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) at 55% of the rate of compensation paid to a totally disabled veteran, putting it on par with rates paid to the survivors of federal civilian employees.
- Why: Titus shared the words of Katie Hubbard, surviving spouse of Command Sgt. Maj. James Hubbard Jr., USA, on what the increased benefit could mean for her and her family: “An increase in DIC would mean a little less stress and worry each month. That increase would ensure money for groceries and basic necessities would be covered each month, and I wouldn’t have to struggle as much to ensure the rest of the ends would be met.”
- From MOAA: “Not only have our survivors sacrificed when their loved one paid the ultimate price, but they served alongside them as they moved all over the country to help defend our nation,” Titus told the subcommittee. “DIC is a vital financial resource for our survivors, and parity is long overdue.”
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