Repeal the SBP/DIC Offset for Surviving Spouses
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We ask that you and your colleagues look into the SBP & DIC Legislations and ensures a speedy act to pass this needed and critical legislation and ended the SBP-DIC offset. Even in a budget-constrained environment, fair treatment for survivors of servicemembers who gave their lives for their country must not be a low funding priority.
SBP allows uniformed services retirees to elect to provide continuing financial support for an eligible survivor. SBP provides the survivor 55% of the servicemember’s selected military retired pay. Enrollment is elected at the time of retirement, and the retired member pays 6.5% of retired pay as a premium. Automatic coverage is extended to survivors of servicemembers who die on duty. SBP PREMIUMS ARE PAID MONTHLY DURING RETIREMENT, UP TO 30 YEARS of payments.. SBP MONEY COMES FROM THE DEFENSE DEPARTMENT
Under current law, DIC provides a modest $1,233 a month ($14,796 a year, survivors who are eligible for both SBP and DIC must forfeit a dollar of their SBP annuity for every dollar of DIC received from the VA. Often, the offset wipes out the SBP annuity the military retiree paid for. In such cases, the survivor receives a proportional refund of SBP premiums – with no interest on what often has been many years of premium payments. However under current law, survivors who are eligible for both SBP and DIC must forfeit a dollar of their SBP annuity for every dollar of DIC received from the VA. This required offset will became quite a financial shock and devastating for survivors that left behind to carry on unfairly required military spouse survivors forfeit part or all of their military Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) annuity when military service causes the member’s death.
Fortunately, commissions and members of Congress already have called for an end to the offset. The October 2007 report of the Veterans’ Disability Benefits Commission recommended eliminating the offset for all SBP/DIC survivors, asserting that when military service causes a servicemember’s death, the indemnity compensation from the VA should be paid in addition to SPP coverage, not subtracted from it.
Many members of Congress have acknowledged the inequity and cosponsored corrective legislation and to recognize SBP and DIC are paid for different reasons.
In 2008, Congress clearly acknowledged this inequity by authorizing for SBP/DIC survivors a modest Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance (SSIA) to begin phasing out the offset. In June 2009, Congress took a second step, increasing SSIA monthly payments to $150 beginning in FY 2014 and rising to $310 in FY 2017. Unfortunately, barring an additional law change, SSIA authority will expire Oct. 1, 2017, and the payments will stop if no vote to extend the SSIA in 2018 budget.
When SSIA was implemented, the accompanying House Armed Services Committee press release stated, “This legislation (SSIA) is the latest step in our continuing effort to eliminate the so-called ‘widow’s tax,’ which has long denied surviving family members the full payment of their Survivor Benefit Plan benefits… this bill does not completely end the offset … the House Committee …will continue to explore every opportunity to pursue legislation that brings us closer to eliminating the ‘widow’s tax’.”
No other federal surviving spouses are required to forfeit their federal annuity because military service caused their sponsor’s death.
During the difficulty budgetary times, such as those we are experiencing today, have led to inaction on ending this unfair offset. Fair treatment for survivors of servicemembers who gave their lives for their country must not be a low funding priority. Congress must, at the very least, take steps to extend and improve SSIA indefinitely with full repeal of the offset of SBP / DIC as the number one priority, our nation Veterans and their families deserve the support they have been counting on during difficult time, this leave the "Leave No Families Behind" echo the the same sentiments of "Leave No Man Behind".To the best of this veterans knowledge, NO PENSION IN THE PUBLIC OR PRIVATE SECTOR IS OFFSET EXCEPT FOR THE WIDOWS OF MILITARY SERVICEMEN WHO ARE KIA OR DIE OF A SERVICE CONNECTED DISABILITY.
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