There’s a Storm Coming

March 17, 2017

Last week we mentioned MOAA will “Storm the Hill”-something we do every year. This year our focus is on ending the sequester, with its harmful budget caps, and the widows tax, the offset to SBP-DIC that will cost surviving spouses over $15,000 a year if not repealed.

Sequestration is a complicated issue with a variety of scenarios and no firm cost projections because of several variables. The Budget Control Act of 2011 established caps restricting DoD's ability to spend funds previously approved. Those caps were then adjusted through the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 to account for increases in appropriations for certain purposes; for DoD, those purposes were for overseas contingencies operations. In short, sequestration ties up billions of dollars of heretofore projected spending, cripples DoD's acquisition process, and threatens basic allowances and entitlements for our military. 

We need Congress to legislate an end to sequestration and follow up with budget reforms that take into account today's defense and non-defense realities shaped by dynamic global security challenges. 

The SBP-DIC offset is unfair to surviving spouses, and we have been working to repeal it for more than 15 years.

Outright repeal would cost nearly $10 billion, but in 2007, Congress recognized the “unfairness” of the offset and, in response, authorized SSIA as a vehicle to repeal the offset gradually. This incremental slope has leveled off at $310 per month (compared to the intended $1,258 per month benefit lost due to the offset). However, SSIA will expire in May 2018 unless Congress extends the allowance.

We need Congress to repeal the offset entirely. However, given the magnitude of such a bill, we understand and support an incremental strategy to continue to increase SSIA over time until its intended culmination: total repeal of the offset. 

But the Armed Services Committees that own the program have a problem with financing it because of congressional funding rules that force them to cut a dollar of retirement or TRICARE for Life for every dollar added for the SSIA.  MOAA agrees this is not a good solution.

That's why the Armed Services Committees have asked the Budget Committees for help in identifying outside offsets to allow the SSIA fix.

You can help ensure Congress stays aware of the need to take care of military widows by sending your legislators a MOAA-suggested message.


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