March 9, 2022 by Alex Gault

WASHINGTON — After witnessing a veteran and his family lose out on his U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs-administered pension due to bureaucratic hurdles, Congresswoman Elise M. Stefanik has introduced legislation to make it easier for veterans and their families to access their benefits.

On Wednesday, Rep. Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, introduced the Ernest Peltz Accrued Veterans Benefits Act, a bill that would allow VA pension benefits to be released to surviving family members if the veteran dies before receiving them, permit veterans’ children to receive benefits in the event there is no spouse, and expand the timeline by which these benefits can be paid out.

In a press release, the congresswoman said she was inspired to author the bill after working with her constituent Charles Peltz, whose father Ernest had worked with the VA to receive an accrued pension. Due to an error with the VA, the approved pension funds weren’t deposited into the senior Mr. Peltz’s account until a week after he died. The VA then pulled the benefits altogether, as there was no surviving family member eligible to receive them.

“Our nation should take great pride in awarding our veterans the benefits due to them for their service,” Rep. Stefanik said. “Sadly, the Peltz family’s encounter with the VA’s red tape is too often the case for many of our veteran families in upstate New York, the north country and across America.”

Charles Peltz said he has been happy to work with Congresswoman Stefanik on this issue, and said it’s an honor for this legislation to be named after his father.

“My father was not only a veteran but a public servant throughout his life,” he said. “He wished only for his government to do the right thing for him and his brothers in arms.”

The bill has support from seven additional members of the House of Representatives as of Wednesday, including one Democrat, Tim Ryan of Ohio.

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