By Kevin Lilley
Legislation introduced by Reps. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) and John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) would end the deduction of Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) annuities from Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) paid to survivors of fallen service members, also known as the “widows tax.”
MOAA has long supported repeal of the widows tax, backing similar legislation from Wilson and others. The change would mean that in cases where military service led to the death of a servicemember, DIC would be paid in addition to the SBP annuity.
[TAKE ACTION: Tell Your Representative to Support H.R. 553]
About 67,000 military survivors would benefit from this legislation, with the current offset costing them about $12,000 annually.
“The SBP-DIC offset remains grossly unfair to the members of the military community who deserve our support the most,” said Lt. Gen. Dana T. Atkins, USAF (Ret), President and CEO of MOAA. “We thank Reps. Wilson and Yarmuth for their bipartisan leadership on this issue, and we encourage their fellow legislators to join the fight.
"This is uniformly agreed-upon throughout Congress, but they haven't found the political will to resolve it," Atkins said. "The 116th Congress has an opportunity to be known for getting this done."
Wilson introduced the new legislation -- H.R. 553, the Military Surviving Spouses Equity Act -- on Jan. 15, with Yarmuth as the bill's lone listed original co-sponsor. Text of the bill wasn't immediately available, but it's essentially similar to bills Wilson introduced in the last four congressional sessions, with all four bills garnering more than 200 co-sponsors. Despite the support, neither these bills nor similar ones put forward by other legislators in previous sessions were put up for a vote, even by a committee.
Surviving Spouse Pens Powerful Message to Eliminate 'Widows Tax'
“It is unconscionable to think there is a 'Widows Tax' on the surviving family members of our fallen heroes,” Wilson said in a release announcing the bill. “We owe it to them to secure stable benefits in the event of their retirement or death.”
Yarmuth, the newly installed chairman of the House Budget Committee, echoed that statement in the release, saying the bill “corrects a terrible wrong and makes clear that we support members of our military not just when we need them, but when their families need us.”
In April, as part of its annual Storming the Hill event, MOAA plans to bring in chapter leaders from across the country to meet with lawmakers to find a permanent end to the widows tax.