The amount paid is equal to one year’s salary. Why?
Originally, it was supposed to be a form of life insurance, and it has been compared to what many private sector employers offer to their employees. But with all the the other 'perks' that go with Congressional elective service, is this really necessary?
The Senate handbook details what is to be done following the death of a member in office: “in the next appropriations bill, an item will be inserted for a gratuity to be paid to the widow(er) or other next- of-kin, in the amount of one-year’s compensation.”
The House amount is "equal to the Member’s annual salary, payable to the deceased Member’s widow or widower, or children."
In both cases, the gratuity is considered a "gift" per U.S. Code.
Another example of members abusing their positions and we the voters continue to let them!