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|Improvements to "Line of Duty" Benefit Payments
|The backlog of line-of-duty benefit payments to the families of National Guard members killed at war is easing.
State law in 2003 established the same benefit to survivors of guard members and reservists killed in the line of duty that survivors of cops and firemen get -- around $300,000.
On Dec. 9, there was a backlog of 74 claims, some as much as 4 years old. Dan Grant, the state's head of veterans' affairs, says the backlog has been whittled to 37 cases. He is working with the Court of Claims to untangle the technicalities that have prevented payment.
The following laws have been enacted or proposed to speed the process:
* The Line of Duty Compensation Act was amended in 2006 to require that death compensation be paid in accordance with designations made by the deceased service member on his Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance Election and Certificate, rather than automatically being given to the spouse, mother and children. This was done because in some cases, one parent may have had little or no relationship with the servicemember.
* In 2008, a law was enacted to require the state to pay interest of 1 percent per month for legitimate claims that are unduly delinquent. The law, PA# 95-0928, was sponsored by State Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia (D-Aurora) and State Sen. Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge).
* Tuesday afternoon, the Illinois House Veterans Affairs Committee will hear H.B. 22, sponsored by State Reps. Jack D. Franks (D-Woodstock) and Charles E. Jefferson (D-Rockford). The bill would require that when there is a dispute being litigated over who should be the beneficiaries of a Line of Duty claim, payment should be made immediately to any claimant whose status as a beneficiary is not in dispute.
The claims were often held up over technicalities that were easy to remedy, but it wasn't being done.
The Court of Claims, which is more like a commission, has seven judges meeting monthly, determining the validity of the claims and who gets the compensation. They are appointed by the governor to six-year terms.
(Illinois Radio Network)
|02 10 09 by Newsroom
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