New Bill for Military Survivors

April 3, 2015

Representative Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) recently introduced H.R. 1594, the Military Surviving Spouse Equity Act. The bill repeals a law known as the “widow’s tax,” an unfair penalty that forces thousands of military survivors to forfeit their earned benefits.

Under current law, military survivors forfeit part of or their entire military Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) annuity when receiving Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The two programs serve very different purposes.

SBP is a program administered by the Department of Defense that allows uniformed service retirees to elect to provide continuing financial support for an eligible survivor.

DIC is paid to survivors of servicemembers who die while on active duty, or to survivors of veterans who die of service-connected illness.  

The vast majority of active duty deaths are in ranks of E-6 and below. For these survivors, the offset virtually wipes out any SBP payment, leaving most survivors with only DIC, a modest payment of about $15,000 a year.

Eliminating this inequity has been a longstanding legislative goal of MOAA.

MOAA thinks that when military service causes a member’s death, indemnity compensation from the VA should be paid in addition to SBP coverage, not subtracted from it. 

“We’re thankful to Wilson for reintroducing this important legislation,” said MOAA’s Deputy Director of Government Relations, Col. Phil Odom, USAF (Ret). “As chair of the House Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee, his support carries considerable weight.”

We continue to work with our contacts in the Senate to introduce similar legislation.

Act now to send a MOAA-suggested message to eliminate the SBP-DIC offset.