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Key Legislative and Regulatory Issues

For more information about any of these issues, contact NFDA's Advocacy Division staff:

Lesley Witter, Senior Vice President, Advocacy Division, 202-547-0877,

Updated: March 20, 2015

The "Veteran Burial Benefit Parity Act of 2015" seeks to Increase the Value of the VA Burial and Funeral Benefits for our Nation's Veterans

Our veterans have served our nation and deserve a dignified funeral and burial. According to NFDA, the national median cost of a funeral for calendar year 2012 was $7,045. However, the current VA burial benefit provides $300 for non-service-connected deaths or veterans with no next of kin; $700 for death in a VA department facility; and $2,000 for death from service-connected disability.

Significant increases in the allowances are necessary to restore the value of these important benefits to original levels. Adjustments have been made to the allowances since 1973, but they have not kept up with the inflation of funeral and burial expenses. In 1973, the burial allowance for veterans with no next of kin and non-service-connected death funeral costs was 22% of funeral and burial costs. Today the value of this allowance had decreased significantly to roughly 2%. NFDA is working with Rep. Duncan Hunter to introduce legislation to create equity among all veterans and ensure that all veterans receive a dignified funeral and burial regardless of ability to pay or circumstances of death by increasing the lower two benefits to equal the $2,000 benefit currently paid to veterans for death from service-connected disability.

H.R. 1109 - ''Social Security Lump-Sum Death Benefit Improvement and Modernization Act of 2015''

Following the death of a worker beneficiary or other insured worker, Social Security makes a one-time payment of $255 to the surviving spouse or, if there is no spouse, to surviving dependent children. The death payment was capped at $255 in 1954 when few recipients received the entire amount. Since 1982, all payments have equaled $255, so the real (inflation-adjusted) value of the benefit now declines each year. The dollar cap of $255 on the lump-sum death benefit, as adjusted for inflation, would equal $2,260 in today's dollars.

Rep. Mimi Walters (R-CA) has introduced H.R. 1109, the "Social Security Lump-Sum Death Benefit Improvement and Modernization Act of 2015" to increase the one-time payment of $255 to $1,000.

H.R. 250 – "The Families of Fallen Servicemembers First Act"

Representatives Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and Tom Rooney (R-FL) have introduced bipartisan legislation to ensure our nation keeps its sacred obligation to the families of service members who have died in service to their country. This legislation will ensure the immediate payment of military death benefits to survivors of fallen service members when federal spending authority lapses. The longstanding purpose of the federal death benefit is to assist families of deceased service members in meeting their financial needs during the period immediately following a service member's death and before other survivor benefits become available. These payments are delivered within three days of a service member's death so families do not have their grief compounded by worrying about financial matters. Immediate expenses include the expenses of flying to meet their loved one's remains at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware and arranging funeral and burial services