January 30, 2024

Ranking Member Takano Introduces Bill to Ensure Survivors Receive Benefits After Losing a Loved One

Press Contact

Libby Carlson

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Ranking Member Mark Takano (CA-39) introduced the Survivor Benefits Delivery Improvement Act to make sure that survivors receive the benefits they are entitled to. The full Committee held a hearing this morning on survivor benefits and how they are administered. 

“It was clear in our hearing today and from talking to survivors around the country that there is a large deficit in how much they know about the benefits that are available to them,” said Ranking Member Takano. “These are families who have lost a loved one who bravely served our nation. We owe them a straightforward explanation of benefits during their time of grief, and a simple process to access them.” 

In February 2022, the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs (DAMA) held a hearing on the delivery of survivor benefits and there were three main themes heard during the hearing: VA does not do adequate data collection on the survivor population, there is a knowledge gap among survivors about what benefits they might be entitled to, and the Office of Survivors Assistance has too few employees to accomplish their mandate of supporting over 450,000 survivors. The Survivor Benefits Delivery Improvement Act aims to close those gaps. 

Ranking Member Takano continued, “I understand there are concerns about how the Office of Survivors Assistance was moved to the Veterans Benefits Administration. What is more important than where this office is located within VA, however, is that OSA and its employees have the resources and the tools to do all they can to better support survivors. And Congress must ensure OSA has the necessary support. My bill does that.” 

Focusing on benefits from the Veterans Benefits Administration and the National Cemetery Administration, the Survivor Benefits Delivery Improvement Act mandates that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) collect demographic data on the survivor population, to help determine benefits utilization and assist VA with outreach to certain populations. The legislation also directs VA to develop an outreach program for survivors, similar to the Solid Start program, to make sure that every survivor knows what benefits are available to them. The onus should not be on survivors to do their own research and outreach to VA during a difficult time.