Everyone is asking how the elimination of the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP)-Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) offset — colloquially known as the "widows tax" — will affect them and how much money they will get.
The law just passed, and nothing happens in 2020. This year, lawyers will review and interpret the words. Policies, directives, and regulations will be written. Computer systems will be designed and tested to implement the processes and pay survivors. However, the actual pay implementation will not start until 2021.
You can count on MOAA to share details as they develop. We will publish information as soon we get the word. To get updates on any developments, make sure you subscribe to The MOAA Newsletter.
Here’s what we know, and how you can prepare moving forward:
- Spouse SBP annuitants subject to the DIC offset won’t see the first change in their payments until the Feb. 1, 2021, payment.
- You do not need to notify your pay agency that your SBP payment is affected by this change in the law. The pay agencies know who you are — they are docking your SBP now.
- Make sure your SBP account information is up to date and includes your correct mailing address so pay agencies can contact you. Establish a DFAS “myPay” or a USCG “Direct-Access (DA) Self-Service” account now, and add your email address if you aren’t already on DFAS or the USCG online programs (learn more at DFAS.mil for DoD or https://www.dcms.uscg.mil/ppc/ras/ for Coast Guard).
- Pay agencies cannot provide individual estimates of spouse SBP annuity payments at this time. Please do not call their Customer Service Centers to request an individual estimate.
- Survivors will not have to pay back any premium refunds if you previously received a refund of SBP premiums due to the SBP-DIC offset.
- The "Repeal of Authority for Optional Annuity for Dependent Children" and "Restoration of Eligibility for Previously Eligible Spouses" in the law only affects those spouses and children of servicemembers who died on active duty when the surviving spouse previously elected to transfer the SBP annuity to a child or children. They do not affect previous or future SBP elections by retirees or SBP annuities for a retiree's beneficiaries.
- The law is not retroactive, so there will not be any back payments for past offset amounts. The law starts as of the law’s passage and going forward.
We do not have more information if these points do not answer your questions. Please wait until we publish the details as they become known.