< link rel="DCTERMS.isreplacedby" href="http://echo9er.blogspot.com" > Echo9er: Opinion -- Death Gratuity

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Opinion -- Death Gratuity

The news has been full of proposals to increase the Death Gratuity to families of Active Duty Service members who die while on Active Duty.

The current Gratuity is a one-time, tax free payment of approximately $12,500. To some, this is a paltry amount of money for surviving family members. Let's look at this.

When a service member dies, the Military pays for ALL funeral related expenses: transportation, casket, funeral home related charges for preparation of the remains, burial site and care, to name a few. Additionally, there are pall bearers, honor guard, and a bugler. As a rule, even without the Gratuity, the surviving family members have no out of pocket expenses for the burial/funeral of their loved one. The Death Gratuity, again this is a TAX FREE gift, would pay for anything above and beyond what the military pays for: additional flowers, limousines, etc.

So, why do we need to consider increasing to $100,000? This seem a bit extreme to me. Now, don't get me wrong. I am a believer in taking care of our fallen comrades. But the Death Gratuity increase is just too much. I have no issue with increasing the servicemen's Group Life Insurance (SGLI) from the current $250,000 to $400,000. The service member pays into this and it is the right thing to do. But increasing the Death Gratuity to $100,000 is way to much. I would agree to $15,000 to $20,000, but no more. In addition, and surviving children are provided educational benefits through the Veterans Administration. This is a huge amount of money that the family does not have to put out of pocket.

Besides, look at the surviving spouse of a person who dies while receiving Social Security Benefits. The Death Gratuity is only $250.00. Is this fair? Especially in light of the fact that ALL expense for the funeral are borne on the survivors. There is no expense for the Active Duy survivors.

I say, let's increase the Gratuity to Military family members to a reasonable amount. But, we also need to consider increasing the benefit to Social Security survivors to a more reasonable coverage.

I know. The argument is burial insurance or some other pre-death planning. I don't think so. The Social Security death benefit needs to be raised to cover funeral home expenses. The Military takes care of that for the family and gives them a reasonable amount of money to cover additional expenses.

Off of my soapbox for now. I don't know who will read this or who else even cares. But, the increase of Death Gratuity just gives me cause for concern.

Signing Off. Until next time, I'll see ya on the Blog! drh.