Gold Star Families given more leeway with benefit paperwork

Families can now collect benefits retroactively if they enrolled late

BOSTON (WWLP) –Servicemen and women leave their families to protect the nation, but some never return home. Although that loss is hard to fill, lawmakers hope to support families with new legislation.

Families of servicemembers killed in the line of duty, known as Gold Star Families, shared their stories with Governor Charlie Baker at the State House Wednesday.

Gold Star Families currently receive an annual benefit of $2,000 from the state and the Department of Veterans Services. But mothers and wives told 22News that some families become overwhelmed with paperwork after losing a loved one and miss application deadlines, costing them access to the benefit.

Governor Baker and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs announced legislation to make benefit payments available retroactively.

“We’re pleased to be able to make it possible for these families to get the benefit that they were entitled to as it was originally intended- upon the loss of their family member in service to our country,” Baker said.

Baker estimates that it would cost the state $7 million if everyone eligible were to apply.