Hagel Introduces Bill to Aid
February 16th, 2007 -
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) introduced legislation today that would amend the eligibility for the military death gratuity paid to the next of kin of military personnel killed while on active duty. By law, the death gratuity benefit goes first to a spouse or a child. This legislation would provide, in cases where a minor child is the next of kin, the ability for the service member to designate the grandparents, siblings, or guardian to receive part or all of the benefit to care for the child.
“As we face the challenges of the 21st Century, servicemen and women sacrificing for their country in a time of war should be assured that their families will be taken care of. The loss of a loved one is a tremendous emotional hardship for families. This is common sense legislation that will ensure that when the next of kin is a child, the death gratuity may be immediately available to the child’s guardian, if so designated,” Hagel said.
Under current law, when the next of kin is a child, the death gratuity is not accessible until the child turns 18, unless a state court decides to allocate the death gratuity to a guardian. Often, if the state probate court does grant access to a guardian, it can take a great deal of time and cost additional money to gain such access.
The military death gratuity is money provided within 72 hours to families of service members who are killed while on active duty. In 2004, Senator Hagel introduced legislation to raise the death gratuity to $100k. This provision was included in the FY05 National Defense Authorization Act, which became law on January 6, 2006.