Last week, NFDA shared the exciting news that the BRAVE Act, which was included in an omnibus bill addressing a variety of veterans’ issues, was signed into law by the president. Read the full announcement here.
The omnibus veterans legislation bill that the BRAVE Act was included in was H.R.7105 – The Johnny Isakson and David P. Roe, M.D. Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act of 2020 (click here for the full text of the bill).
Under current policy, survivors of certain veterans who die in a Department of Veterans Affairs facility are provided greater funds to cover the cost of a funeral than veterans who die in their home or another medical facility.
Benefits prior to H.R. 7105:
- Non-service-connected death: $300 burial allowance and $807 for a plot
- Non-service-connected death in a VA facility: $807 burial allowance and $807 for a plot
Please also see the current VA burial benefits website; here, you can find eligibility criteria for benefits and the benefits for each group prior to H.R. 7105 becoming law.
The BRAVE Act provisions that were included in H.R. 7105 update the current burial benefit to treat all non-service-connected deaths equally, regardless of where the veteran passes away.
New benefits after H.R. 7105:
- All non-service-connected deaths, regardless of place of death: $807 burial allowance and $807 plot allowance.
- The benefits for all non-service-connected deaths will also be indexed for inflation
H.R. 7105 also:
- Expands transportation of deceased veterans to veterans’ cemeteries.
- Extends the VA’s requirements for outer burial receptacles to cemeteries.
- Authorizes the VA to replace existing VA-furnished headstones to add inscriptions for deceased spouses and eligible dependent children, and allow for inscriptions on headstones furnished by the VA if the spouse or eligible dependent child predeceases the veteran.
- Makes grants via the Veterans Cemetery Grants Program to counties for veterans’ cemeteries.
- Authorizes the National Cemetery Administration (NCA) to furnish an urn or a commemorative plaque, in lieu of a headstone or marker, to eligible individuals whose cremated remains are not interred in a cemetery.
The VA website has not yet been updated yet because after the president signs a bill into law, the federal agencies (Department of Veterans Affairs in this case) issue regulations regarding specifics on implementation. NFDA will work with the Dept of VA to ensure H.R. 7105 is implemented properly and will keep you up to date on developments.