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Nearly 70 Senators Call For Full Repeal of Widows Tax in New Letter

Nearly 70 Senators Call For Full Repeal of Widows Tax in New Letter
(Jim Watson/Getty)

Nearly 70 senators have made a passionate plea to repeal the “widows tax,” the unfair law that forces surviving military spouses to forfeit part or all of their Survivor Benefit Plan when they begin to receive the VA’s Dependency and Indemnity Compensation.

Sens. Doug Jones, D-Ala., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, have led efforts to pass the Military Surviving Spouses Equity Act of 2019. Now they are joined by senators from both parties, asking that the final National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2020 includes a provision for full repeal of the widows tax, also known as the SBP-DIC offset.

“We have an obligation to make sure that we are taking care of our military families who have sacrificed so much,” the letter reads. “This problem goes back decades, but this year we can finally solve it once and for all. It is our time to do our duty not only to support the brave men and women of our military, but also to support their families.”

[READ THE LETTER: Senators call for full repeal. AND TAKE ACTION: Send a letter to Congress.]

MOAA has long fought for the repeal of the deduction, including making it a hallmark advocacy issue during our 2019 Storming the Hill event in April, when more than 150 MOAA members from across the country met with federal lawmakers. MOAA is again pushing for full repeal as part of our 2019 Summer Storm:  https://www.moaa.org/summerstorm.

Opposing lawmakers have cited concerns as to how to fund a full repeal.

Under the widows tax, a surviving spouse receives the DoD’s Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP), which is annuity paid to dependents after a retiree’s death, but it is deducted from the VA’s Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), which is a tax-free monetary benefit paid to survivors who died from a service-connected injury or disease. The deduction offset affects about 67,000 survivors, who lose up to $12,000 a year.

“There has never before been more bipartisan support in Congress for repealing the SBP-DIC offset,” the letter reads. “Currently, there are 75-cosponsors of legislation to repeal the widows tax in the Senate and 371 co-sponsors in the House.”

That marks the highest number of co-sponsors ever for each version of the legislation.

Amanda Dolasinski is MOAA’s staff writer. She can be reached at amandad@moaa.org. Follow her on Twitter @AmandaMOAA.

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About the Author

Amanda Dolasinski

Amanda Dolasinski is MOAA’s staff writer and covers issues important to veterans and their families, including healthcare, pay and benefits. She can be reached at amandad@moaa.org. Follow her on Twitter @AmandaMOAA.