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News Release

Friday, September 16, 2016
Contact: OPM Office of Communications
Tel: 202-606-2402

OPM Submits Legislative Proposal to Congress on Civilian Death Gratuity Benefits

If passed, civilian death gratuity would increase from $10,000 to $100,000 and would for the first time increase annually with consumer price index

WASHINGTON, DC - The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) today submitted a legislative proposal to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House to harmonize death gratuities across the Federal government and provide more equitable benefits for many Federal civilian employees killed in the line of duty.  Specifically, the legislative proposal increases the currently outdated death gratuity from $10,000 to $100,000, raises the funeral allowance from $800 to $8,800, and ensures that both benefits will automatically increase annually with the rise of the consumer price index. Many Federal civilian employees risk their lives every day and their deaths often do not make headlines. This proposal would provide a death gratuity to Federal civilian employees killed in the line of duty, including as a result of a terrorist attack, a criminal act, exposure to extreme risk while performing their jobs, or retaliation for carrying out their responsibilities.

This $10,000 amount has remained static since its inception in 1997. Furthermore, the current authorized funeral allowance for a Federal employee who dies due to an injury sustained in the performance of duty is $800, and has not changed since 1966, during the Johnson administration.

“I’m pleased to send this legislative proposal to Congress,” said Beth Cobert, Acting Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. “Our commitment to caring for our Federal employees and their families in the toughest of times is unwavering. This legislation is necessary to ensure that families of civil servants killed while serving the people of the United States do not take on an unnecessary financial burden.”

Death gratuities paid to the families of Federal civilian employees killed in the line of duty have varied based on a number of factors, including the specific segment of the Federal workforce that the employee was part of, the agency administering the benefit, and a differing set of rules related to offset requirements, tax treatment, and eligible beneficiaries. Currently, significant disparities and inequities exist across the Federal Government with respect to the administration of death gratuities.

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The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is the leader in workforce management for the federal government. Our agency builds, strengthens, and serves a federal workforce of 2.2 million employees with programs like hiring assistance, healthcare and insurance, retirement benefits, and much more. We provide agencies with policies, guidance, and best practices for supporting federal workers, so they can best serve the American people.

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