DOD Unable to Pay Death Benefits To Military Families During Shutdown

President Obama "very disturbed" by lack of benefits, orders to OMB to find solution today.
11:56 | 10/09/13

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Transcript for DOD Unable to Pay Death Benefits To Military Families During Shutdown
This is a special room. Hello everyone I'm -- Hernandez in New York is ABC news digital special report. Families of dead soldiers receive the bodies of their loved ones today but that is all they will receive the army and able to -- any benefits because of the shut down. -- -- a solemn and silent affair today was no different the bodies of four fallen soldiers arrived at Dover Air Force Base from Afghanistan. Among the fallen to a private first class coach PJ Patterson thank you apparently. -- access Sargent Patrick he Hopkins. First lieutenant Jennifer and Marino. And special agent Joseph and Peters were killed by IED on October 6. So their bodies. Returned to their families but without any benefits that help cover funeral costs. Congress is now moving to fix the oversight. And those in the senate heard a dire plea from chaplain Barry black day in his morning prayer. Lord women -- federal shutdown. Delays. Payments. -- death benefit us. To the families. Of children. Dying. On faraway battlefield -- It's time. For all lawmakers. To say enough. Is enough. Serious words for a serious situation and for more on this troubling effectively shut down for ABC's Louise Martinez. Believe me we saw some of the video today of those soldiers. Coming home so to speak and I want -- just thank apparently Cody Patterson thanks for that apparently were able to access of one of those ceremonies. -- they shut down obviously having a very real impact on military families tell us about it. What -- what we're talking about here is a 100000 dollar death gratuity -- -- payment that -- -- comes in a lump sum or in installments. And it's beginning to the families of any service member. Who dies in the line of -- it had doesn't have to be in -- he can be even here in the United States essays by an accident or even natural causes. So and right now. We have 26. Service members who have passed away since the shutdown began on October 1. And those families have not received a death -- what we saw today was the return of those for service members the soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan. Because of a suicide attack this past Sunday. Those families not getting it but neither are the families -- back here in the US. -- loved ones died in the line of duty in this -- At in this particular situation where they -- brought to do over air force base I understand that the families may not even be able to attend that ceremony if they don't have financial assistance. As part of what this money is intended to help pay for that they can be there for this -- Right -- that the military is very generous to the families. Of those who have lost those lines DD. One of the programs that they have it's not the debt securities a separate program that they have pays for the transportation costs -- -- -- -- Gilbert. To receive your loved ones and also. -- pick up the costs of the funeral and the burial. That the payments right now during the shutdown for that program had been stopped. One of the programs it is continuing. Is he service member's life insurance program it automatically 400000. Dollars. But that takes a little bit the process that's what you have this money that the government provides family members. -- immediately so that they can go to Dover if they -- now what's happened is that. Since news of this broke that these families are not getting this that the -- several charitable foundations of the board. Picked up to -- the most notable. Is the Fisher House Foundation an organization that provides lodging. And and services to the families of America's wounded military wounded and those who. One beauty but. They have stepped forward they take up the tab for some of the families that that were on hand for today's return at Dover -- they say that this is something that -- -- all time. And that they would not be doing is only because -- that the community -- is going on right now because of mission and we were just like. -- pictures of Defense Secretary -- Cagle and -- secretary of the army. Forty aero paying their respects. -- be remiss to not talk about these soldiers that we -- coming back today from Afghanistan what can you tell us about the. -- these -- four soldiers who died in southern Afghanistan over the weekend. There was a bomb blasted involving two suicide attackers. It's been very rare to actually have group deaths -- this year in Afghanistan as the number. Of American service members is decreasing we're gonna turn over control -- -- control fully. To Afghanistan by the end of next year that process has been long under way for the last year. So American troops have kind of been pulling back in of their bases as Afghan troops go out into the field more and more. They're the ones bearing the brunt of the casualties but what we -- here is a single an incident where for so America army soldiers were killed. By this in his suicide -- roadside bomb attack. The previous incidents where we had this many fatalities -- in June. So this is it's been a very important year -- it for the transition in Afghanistan. That we are seeing the lowest number of American fatalities in Afghanistan in almost six years. It's a very significant that the -- going on there as we turn over control to the Afghans. But unfortunately events like this are still going on Afghanistan is still -- deadly place for American soldiers. And -- and Marines and this is just another reminder of that and that's why you're seeing Defense Secretary chuck Cagle there on hand today. At Dillard a welcome home the remains of these four soldiers it's his first visit to -- since he took over here at this that's department earlier in here you know. You mention that this sheer drop in casualties from Afghanistan but I do think many people would be surprised by the number of casualties since October 1 you say it was 26. Men and women in the military. It's 26. Overall it's -- all of the military services but not. We're not talking we're talking about stateside the majority of stateside. -- six of them so far in Afghanistan in that time period. It's sad -- kind of a surprise to many folks as to how mean service members a pass -- line of duty here in the United States. I've Carleton -- -- to see what they're doing to -- -- families during the shut down. They say that the -- steering. Them. For the families of these sailors who have died since October 1. Towards charitable organizations we mentioned Fisher House Foundation earlier they are dealing with on the culminating. -- and the navy Marine Corps memorial fund. These are private organizations again that are willing to help them during this time. It's really been a hot topic on Capitol Hill today we had house speaker John Boehner. Talking yesterday about it we certainly -- -- action today at there was a house committee hearing about it let's listen to Boehner first. Last week by the congress pass the pay our military benefits act. We give broad authority to the Department of Defense to pay off all kinds of bills including minutes and frankly I think it's disgraceful. That they're withholding these benefits. It's a Boehner there are not planning to shut down for the withholding of these benefits can explain to us what he's talking about. This is to -- a total political football -- It's seven really interesting to watch out Democrats and Republicans on the -- seizing on this. As uses -- the very strong language there mrs. this graceful under Clinton is what we've heard from other members of congress. And they want this fixed you have Republicans blaming. The Pentagon for a very narrow interpretation. Of existing -- going into the shut down. You'll see here and seeing that the pay our military act which they passed last week when -- time of the president which is bringing back -- civilian -- employees. Also covers this that -- But it -- and meanwhile you say the Democrats and while hey. Did we warned you then depending on warn you that this death gratuity was going to go away. There's significant -- capital to get this fixed very shortly we expect the house to you. Passed legislation to have this to reinstate the deprecating during the shutdown similar action on the senate but even more important -- we're here from the White House now. That the president has directed. That this matter be fixed by the end of the day he's instructed in the office of management and budget and his attorneys to come up with a solution for this. White House spokesman Jay Carney. Indicated that the Pentagon had notified congress that this was going to take place but obviously it seemed like -- little disconnect there were to get all the way to the president. And and obviously the political fallout here from this is just that deafening you there is no one. Who has not been impacted by this this news that deputy. -- -- and shut down payments basically everybody has a very negative opinion towards this and wants to get this fixed as quickly as possible. And -- drive that home we heard from the veteran affairs department today at a committee hearing the veteran affairs. House committee. We're also learning that a lot of these groups are playing catch up I mean certainly be. Department of veteran affairs had been in trouble financially they may not be able to make their payments -- just makes it. All the more different now. -- at a VA obviously taking care of those who have served in uniform. Who require disability payments. Or or any other kind of payment we heard today from VA secretary -- -- -- -- saying -- basically. If that shutdown continues he's not gonna have enough in funds to pay the checks are due out on the first of November. And he's talking about five point -- million checks. Going out to beneficiaries. And he says he's not can have the funds Ford. He's warning people that there are individuals out there veterans with a 100% disability who will not be getting their checks in the mail. On November 1 at this shutdown continues so it's very dire warning to members. On congress there -- members next is that the committee to congress in general. Telling them that there's there's got to be salute -- for this because even though VA medical care has not been suspended at any of its hospitals across the country. Which is good news the bad news is that those families that depend on those checks month to month may not be getting them on the first in the manner. Bottom line today is we're focusing on that death benefit but there are more. Ripple effects down the road here in terms of all better services -- that's exactly right the ripple effect theories that yes these checks. But it's also the -- -- in. Getting those checks which is the disability review. The -- had been making significant headway in reducing the backlog. In and hundreds of thousands of cases disability. Applications had been sent to them. That backlog is -- is what -- -- he said today and Natalie that. He thinks that the numbers are slightly increasing and yet so whatever practice they -- is being moved backward. But the DA has a lot to -- with student benefits as well and again those payments just gonna make it if there's no progress on this account for a as -- -- -- cost -- shut down government. And keep -- running. Martinez and a thank you so much for joining us. And you can of course get a complete recap right here on -- -- type Hernandez in New York -- -- -- -- digital special.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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