April 25, 2019

Shaheen, Hassan Join Bipartisan Group On Legislation to Eliminate the Military “Widow’s Tax”

**The Military Widow’s Tax Elimination Act of 2019 would help more than 65,000 military widows nationwide and is endorsed by key veterans advocacy groups**

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined a bipartisan group of Senators led by Doug Jones (D-AL), Susan Collins (R-ME), Jon Tester (D-MT) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) in support of the Military Widow’s Tax Elimination Act of 2019. The bipartisan bill would end the so-called “Widow’s Tax” by repealing the unfair law that prevents as many as 65,000 surviving military spouses nationwide from receiving their full Department of Defense (DOD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) survivor benefits. Currently, military widows and widowers who qualify for the VA’s Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) are forced to take prorated annuities from the Survivors Benefits Plan (SBP), even though they elected to pay into the program.

Under current law, the surviving spouse of a retired member who dies of a service-connected cause, or a service member killed on active duty, is entitled to DIC from the VA. If the military retiree was also enrolled in SBP, the surviving spouse’s SBP benefits are reduced by the amount of DIC (currently $1,319 per month). This leaves many widows and widowers with as little as $2,200 of the $3,525 per month they had expected to receive to support their families after their loved one’s passing. Each case varies depending on rank and the year of service-related death, but the average DIC offset to SBP pay is $925 per month. The Military Widow’s Tax Elimination Act would repeal this required offset and authorize payment of both SBP and DIC in the case of a service-connected death. 

“We can never repay the debt we owe our servicemen and women who give their lives for our country. It is, however, our responsibility to ensure that their families have the support they need and deserve in the wake of such tragic loss. That’s precisely what this bill will help accomplish,” said Senator Shaheen. “By making common-sense reform to our laws, this legislation will help provide spouses of our servicemen and women who give the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty with the full benefits and financial assistance to which they’re entitled. This is an important bill that helps the United States uphold its promise to our military families and I urge members on both sides of the aisle to lend their support.”

“Behind every brave servicemember who sacrifices to serve our country there are family members who are also sacrificing a great deal,” Senator Hassan said. “We must support military families, particularly when their loved ones are taken from us in a service-related death, and this bipartisan bill is critical to those efforts. It’s long past time to close this loophole in the law that has prevented far too many military widows from receiving the full benefits and financial support they have earned.”

The legislation reflects the widely held belief that those who give their lives for their country deserve fair compensation for their surviving spouses and, at the very least, should be paid what they are owed from the investment they made in the SBP.  In previous sessions of Congress, the legislation has also earned wide bipartisan support as well as support from key veterans advocacy groups, including the Gold Star Wives of America, Inc., Military Officers Association of America, National Military Family Association, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), Veterans of Foreign Wars and more.

Bill text of the legislation can be found here.

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