Recently, congress passed some new legislation that changes several VA Benefits in 2021. This legislation is called the “Johnny Isakson and David P. Roe, M.D. Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act of 2020” is on its way to President Trump’s desk to be signed into law.
Here are some of those changes and how they may affect you:
The Medal of Honor Pension Expansion
If you are a Medal of Honor recipient receiving a monthly pension, that pension will be paid to your surviving spouse upon your death. Note that if your surviving spouse is receiving the Dependency Indemnity Compensation (DIC), they are not eligible for this benefit. Currently, the monthly pension for Medal of Honor awardees is $1,388.68 a month. However, it increases annually based on inflation. This is in addition to any disability compensation you receive for rated disabilities. If you are a Medal of Honor recipient or the widow of one, be sure to look into this! I think this is one of the best VA Benefits in 2021.
Veteran’s Administration Whole-Life Life Insurance
Starting in 2023, the Veteran’s Administration will be entering into the life insurance industry. The new law requires the VA to offer a whole-life policy to all disabled veterans under the age of 81 by then. This insurance will be similar to Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI), with one major exception. Currently, VGLI requires service members to sign up within 16 months of exiting the service. This new law will not have a time-limit for Veterans to sign up after leaving the service. When the program begins, the policies will be limited to a $40,000 payout for most Veterans.
VA Benefits in 2021 Expand VA Home Loans for National Guard and Army Reserve Members
Currently, only those Guard and Reserve members with at least 90 days of active service are eligible for VA Home Loans. Beginning in 2021, under this new law, Army Reserve and National Guard members that do not have any active-duty service will be eligible to receive a VA home loan. As long as they have at least 90 days of service. Note that at least thirty of those days must have been consecutive.
As of right now, the VA will only pay to transport a Veteran’s remains to National Veteran’s cemeteries. The Veteran’s Administration will start paying expenses to transport a deceased Veteran’s remains to state and tribal Veterans cemeteries as well. This will take effect within two years of the bill being signed into law. In addition to this, the VA will furnish urns for the ashes of cremated Veterans. Families will have a choice between receiving a free headstone or a burial urn (not both).
This benefit differs from current legislation in that most Veterans can get a free headstone upon their death, but urns are not an option. Also, if the Veteran receives a monument issued by the VA and buried in a state or private cemetery, they can have their spouse’s name engraved on that headstone for free. This benefit will be retroactive and available for deaths back to October 1st, 2019.
Native Americans Exemption From VA Copay
Within one year of this law being signed into effect, all Native Americans will be exempt from any VA copay for health care or medication, regardless of whether they have a service-connected disability.
There is no denying that America owes a debt of gratitude to our military. History shows that more than 40 million Americans have served in the uniformed services. Almost one million Americans have given their lives to defend our freedom and the American way of life. We can never repay this debt of gratitude, but it always nice to see that their benefits are being expanded and increased.