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President Bush Signs Veterans Benefits Act of 2003

On December 16, 2003 President Bush signed into law H.R. 2297, the Veterans Benefits Act of 2003.

Relevant sections of the bill for NFDA members are:

  1. Authorizes the payment of proceeds following the death of the insured under the National Life Insurance Program and the United States Government life Insurance Program to another beneficiary designated by the insured if the first beneficiary does not make a claim for such insurance within two years; or, to any person designated by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to be equitably entitled to such proceeds if no claim has been filed by any designated beneficiary within four years.

  2. Allows States to receive the veterans’ burial plot allowance of $300 for the internment of a veteran who did not serve during a wartime period; or, was discharged as a result of service-connected disabilities.

  3. Makes eligible for burial in national cemeteries a surviving spouse who had a subsequent remarriage (Under previous law, only a surviving spouse who had a subsequent remarriage which was terminated by death or divorce was eligible).

  4. Makes permanent the authority of the Secretary of Veterans affairs to make grants to States for establishing, expanding or improving veterans’ cemeteries. (Current authority expires at the end of FY 2004).

  5. Grants eligibility for national cemetery burial to former new Philippine Scouts who are residents of the United States at death. Grants eligibility for cash burial benefits at the full rate for active service veterans to such scouts who legally reside in the United States.

NFDA worked closely with the Veterans Affairs Committees to achieve passage of this legislation.