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Mike Postorino is the Veteran Liaison for the Mesothelioma Center (Asbestos.com); an organization devoted to assisting veterans through their application processes for VA benefits. He can be reached at mpostorino(@)asbestos.com. Their web site can be found at www.asbestos.com.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July, 7 2014 New Regulations Automate Burial Payments for Veterans Survivors Estimated 62,000 Surviving Spouses Benefit from Regulation Changes WASHINGTON, New burial regulations effective today will now allow the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to automatically pay the maximum amount allowable under law to most eligible surviving spouses more quickly and efficiently, without the need for a written application. Under former regulations, VA paid burial benefits on a reimbursement basis, which required survivors to submit receipts for relatively small one-time payments that VA generally paid at the maximum amount permitted by law. VA is committed to improving the speed and ease of delivery of monetary burial benefits to Veterans survivors during their time of need, said Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson. The recent changes allow VA to help these survivors bear the cost of funerals by changing regulations to get them the benefits more quickly. This automation enables VA to pay a non-service-connected or service-connected burial allowance to an estimated 62,000 eligible surviving spouses out of a projected 140,000 claimants for burial benefits in 2014. Surviving spouses will be paid upon notice of the Veterans death using information already in VA systems. The burial allowance for a non-service-connected death is $300, and $2,000 for a death connected to military service. This revised regulation will further expedite the delivery of these benefits to surviving spouses, reduce the volume of claims requiring manual processing, and potentially make available resources for other activities that benefit Veterans and their survivors. For more information on monetary burial benefits, visit http://www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/claims-special-burial.asp.

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The Army Review Boards Agency (ARBA) office at St. Louis has been closed in conjunction with Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC).  Applications to the Army Board for Correction of Military Records (ABCMR), DD Form 149; and the Army Discharge Review Board (ADRB), DD Form 293, must now be mailed to 251 18th Street South, Suite 385 Arlington, VA 22202-3531.  The current editions of these applications also provide this mailing address.  The current applications can be printed from the ARBA website

 - http://arba.army.pentagon.mil

The forms are in a fill-able format so that applicants can word process the forms and print them. 

The ARBA website also provides an online process for application to the ABCMR and the ADRB that can be used instead of completing and mailing the hard copy applications.  We encourage use of the online application process.  Veterans Service Officers may do the computer work for applicants but for all applications, the applicant or legal representative must sign the application. 

When mailing a hard copy application or the signature page for the online application, applicants should provide copies of all records and documents they have in their possession related to their application.

It should not be assumed that all the documents they wish the Board to consider are in their military record.

You and the Veterans you serve will find the ARBA website very useful.

It provides the information, forms, online application, application guides, answers to common questions, and links to many other helpful sites.  If you have questions, you may contact us through the ARBA website "Contact Us" link at the bottom of the website home page. 

Thank you for all you do for Veterans, Soldiers, and their families. Adair Petty, Operations Officer, Army Review Boards Agency, http://arba.army.pentagon.mil

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