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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2013 - 2014 Regular Session


Posted: April 22, 2013 03:22 PM
From: Senator Lisa Baker
To: All Senate members
Subject: Extending and Expanding the Military Family Relief Assistance Program
Please join me in co-sponsoring legislation to preserve and expand the Military Family Relief Assistance Program (MFRAP), which will lose its primary source of funding at the end of 2013.

The MFRAP program, created in 2005, gives grants of up to $3,500 to needy Pennsylvania service members and their families. It is funded by voluntary donations derived largely from Pennsylvania Personal Income Tax refund check-offs, which will automatically expire under the law on January 1, 2014.

This bill extends both the MFRAP tax refund check-off and the MFRAP program itself, which is set to expire on June 30, 2016. It also expands the program’s eligibility criteria because the current guidelines are so narrowly drawn that participation is limited. The legislation also provides for the transfer of money in the MFRAP fund to the newly created Veterans Trust Fund effective in 2015 in order to reduce the duplication of services and enhance the coordination of benefits for veterans in need. The program would be extended until June 30, 2020.

The program presently gives grants to service members who experienced a sudden loss of income as a result of military service; emergency child care needs; natural or manmade disasters resulting in the need for food, shelter and other necessities; or the death or critical illness of a parent, spouse, sibling or child.

The bill would change the program in the following ways:
  • eligibility criteria would be expanded to include loss of assets as well as loss of income.
  • other “exigent circumstances” would be included to give more flexibility in determining need.
  • the recipient would be able to qualify for three years instead of one after a tour of duty.
  • members discharged for medical reasons would qualify for four years--instead of two --after discharge for medical conditions incurred in the line of duty.
  • former service members who served in a qualifying tour of active duty in a combat zone or in support of contingency operation since 9/11 would be added to MFRAP.
Thank you for considering the renewal and expansion of this crucial veterans’ initiative.

Introduced as SB923