Veterans life insurance

Axne-backed bill to help families of deceased veterans receive timely benefits

Today, Representative Cindy Axne (IA-03) voted by a bipartisan majority to pass the Veterans Survivors Payments Acceleration Act, which would modernize and speed up Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) processes to identify, locate and pay hard-to-find survivors of recently deceased veterans. As of September 2020, the VA estimates that the Department owes over $155 million in unpaid life insurance benefits to nearly 15,000 people. On average, this amounts to approximately $10,500 per family.

“Our country’s veterans have dedicated their lives to serving our country, and the last thing they should worry about is whether their families will be financially secure when they die,” said Representative Axne. “The Accelerated Payments to Veterans Survivors Act will reduce barriers and delays in locating surviving family members of deceased veterans so they can access the benefits owed to them in a timely manner. Supporting these families is the least we can do to thank them for the sacrifices they have made.”

More specifically, the Veterans Survivors Payments Acceleration Act would have:

  • Shorten the time period in which VA is allowed to nominate, contact and pay appropriate primary and alternate beneficiaries from 2 years to 1 year and from 4 years to 2 years, respectively. Existing statutory constraints delay the release of undisbursed funds.
  • Ensure payment procedures for other beneficiaries are applied evenly and consistently across VA life insurance programs.
  • Enhance and raise awareness of an existing online tool that families of veterans can use to search for money that may be owed to them.
  • Make sure VA has the staff it needs to reach hard-to-find beneficiaries.
  • Set a goal to disburse all funds owed to the survivor of a veteran or deceased beneficiary within two years.
  • Require a report to Congress within 180 days on VA progress.

The bill is supported by Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs), including Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), American Legion, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) , Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), Modern Military Association of America (MMAA), and Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA).

Rep. Axne has long advocated for measures to support Iowa veterans and their families. Representative Axne presented the Transition to Success Actbipartisan legislation to provide job training and employment assistance for members of the National Guard and Reserveand the Veteran Student Study and Work Modernization Act expand access to higher education for veteranswho cleared the floor of the house in April.

She also presented the sergeant. Ketchum Rural Veterans Mental Health Actwhat was enacted last June create more mental health resources for veterans living in rural areas. More recently, she voted to send the Honoring our promise to address the PACT Act (Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics) at the president’s office to ensure that Iowa veterans who have been exposed to fire pits and toxic substances receive the medical treatment they deserve.