A bipartisan Senate bill introduced Sept. 13 would allow surviving spouses to continue receiving Dependency and Indemnity Compensation and Survivor Benefit Plan income if they remarry, regardless of age.
The Love Lives On Act of 2022 (S. 4841) would reverse existing law where survivors can lose benefits if they remarry before reaching age 55. The bill, co-sponsored by Sens. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), also would reestablish these benefits for eligible remarried spouses.
MOAA supports the legislation along with more than two dozen other military and veterans advocacy groups, including the American Legion, National Military Family Association, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), and Vietnam Veterans of America.
“The proposed legislation is the first comprehensive approach to allowing eligible military surviving spouses to retain survivor benefits upon remarriage prior to age 55,” the groups wrote in a letter to the co-sponsors. “There have been several previous bills related to remarriage, but none were as comprehensive as this bill and large populations of military survivors were excluded.”
The bill also would:
- Provide commissary and exchange access to remarried surviving spouses.
- Allow surviving spouses whose subsequent marriage has ended to qualify as a dependent under TRICARE.
- Preserve surviving spouse eligibility for the Fry Scholarship, a VA program paying full in-state tuition costs (or nearly $23,000 per year for private/out-of-state tuition), plus money for housing and supplies, for up to 36 months. Surviving spouses currently lose this benefit after remarriage or 15 years after the death of the servicemember.
“Military service is family service, and our country owes a great debt to the surviving spouses of fallen servicemembers,” Moran said in a press release announcing the bill’s introduction. “As Gold Star spouses heal from their loss and choose to remarry, they should not have to worry about losing their earned survivors’ benefits provided by the VA.”
[DIGITAL DOWNLOAD: MOAA’s Remarriage Guide (Premium and Life Member Exclusive)]
Warnock said the bill “will finally ensure that surviving spouses of our heroic servicemembers, who sacrificed everything in defense of our freedoms, get the care and benefits they deserve and earned through their patriotic service to our country.”
The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, where Moran serves as ranking member.