When a retired servicemember passes, financial concerns and stress can be a terrible burden for grieving survivors to bear. And some survivors will suffer even further when they discover the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) may take part or all of the last retirement payment check back.
MOAA supports recent bipartisan legislation introduced by Reps. John Garamendi (D-Calif.) and Michael Turner (R-Ohio) that would correct this injustice for new survivors.
The Military Retiree Survivor Comfort Act (H.R. 2214) would allow survivors to keep the full amount of the retirement check issued for the final month in which the member was alive without the shock of losing a large chunk of funds from DFAS recoupment. The survivor will instead, gradually repay the amount over the next 12 months and have an opportunity to request debt forgiveness through the Department of Defense.
“Military families suffering the loss of their loved one should not be penalized for an accounting oversight,” Garamendi said. “The Department of Defense’s current practice of clawing back retirement benefits deposited in joint checking accounts when a veteran dies is both callous and needless. Our Military Retiree Survivor Comfort Act would finally fix this to ensure that our military families have one less worry following the loss of their loved one.”
These grieving families, Turner said, “should not be punished under heartless and unnecessary penalties. Congressman Garamendi and I introduced The Military Retiree Survivor Comfort Act to fix this misguided policy. Military families deserve our respect, and our bipartisan bill will help these families avoid undue hardship during what is already a difficult time.”
[RELATED: MOAA Premium and Life Members, Download MOAA's Survivor's Planning Guide]
Some surviving spouses are caught off guard by all the notifications and transactions required when their servicemember passes. Forgetting to notify DFAS can result in large fund recoupment that could easily empty a banking account for a new survivor. The gradual repayment and option to appeal for debt forgiveness has support across military and veterans service organizations.
Many of those groups are part of The Military Coalition (TMC), which represents a combined 5.5 million members of the military community. You can read the TMC’s letter of support for this act at this link.
MOAA is an active member of TMC’s survivor committee; you can learn more about this active committee and their goals at this link.
Add your voice to this effort by contacting your lawmakers today.
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MOAA is committed to protecting the rights of servicemembers and their families. Lend your voice and support these efforts today. Because the larger our voice is, the greater our impact will be.