NFDA Members to Urge Congress to Pass Legislation to Help Social Security Recipients and War Heroes

March 1, 2015
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Brookfield, Wis. – When members of the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) are in Washington, D.C., next week, they will urge their elected representatives to pass legislation that will help the families of social security recipients and fallen service members honor their loved ones with meaningful funerals. The association is hosting its annual Advocacy Summit in the nation’s capital March 3-5.

When an individual who was receiving Social Security benefits dies, his or her spouse or surviving dependent children is entitled to a lump-sum death benefit (LSDB) of $255. The LSDB was capped at $255 in 1954, and since 1982 all payments have equaled $255.

NFDA worked with Rep. Mimi Walters, R-Calif., to introduce the “Social Security Lump-Sum Death Benefit Improvement and Modernization Act of 2015” (H.R. 1109), which would increase the value of the LSDB to $1,000.

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Although the LSDB was once linked to burial expenses and is sometimes still referred to as a “funeral benefit,” it no longer has any legal connection with funeral expenses; however, many families truly need the LSDB and are often faced with the heartbreaking situation of not being able to provide a dignified funeral and burial for their loved ones.

NFDA members will also be advocating in support of legislation introduced by Reps. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., and Tom Rooney, R-Fla., “The Families of Fallen Servicemembers First Act” (H.R. 250), which would ensure the immediate payment of military death benefits to survivors of fallen service members when federal spending authority lapses.

The longstanding purpose of the federal death benefit is to assist families of deceased service members in meeting their financial needs during the period immediately following a service member’s death and before other survivor benefits become available. Payments are delivered within three days of the service member’s death and cover expenses such as flying to meet their loved one’s remains at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware and arranging funeral and burial services.

“Every person deserves a dignified funeral and burial or cremation,” said NFDA Senior Vice President Lesley Witter, MPA, CAE. “Our members are excited to be in Washington, D.C., next week advocating on behalf of the families we serve. By passing these bills, Congress will ease the stress and hardship that so many grieving families face and enable them to honor their loved ones in meaningful ways.”

NFDA is the world’s leading and largest funeral service association, serving 19,700 individual members who represent more than 10,000 funeral homes in the United States and 39 countries around the world. NFDA is the trusted leader, beacon for ethics and the strongest advocate for the profession. NFDA is the association of choice because it offers funeral professionals comprehensive educational resources, tools to manage successful businesses, guidance to become pillars in their communities and the expertise to foster future generations of funeral professionals. NFDA is headquartered in Brookfield, Wis., and has an office in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit www.nfda.org.

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