HR 553 and S. XXX SBP-DIC Factsheet 116th Congress
Military Widows: SBP-DIC Offset Facebook Group
Objective: To repeal the Federal law that requires a $1 reduction in a Department of Defense (DoD) Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) insurance annuity for each $1 received in benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) program.
Eligible surviving spouses should receive both SBP and DIC with no offset. SBP is an insurance annuity earned by years of service and/or paid for as income protection for surviving family members. It is not standard practice for insurance programs to deny payment because a beneficiary receives income from another source.
Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) - a DoD insurance annuity program that was established by Congress in1972 to provide income protection to survivors of retired military personnel.
SBP is a voluntary insuranceannuity for which military retirees pay premiums from their retired pay; currently amaximum of 6.5% monthly. When the retired service member passes away, SBP provides a maximum annuity payment of 55% of retired pay to the survivor, dependent upon the amount purchased.
Following 9/11, Congress expanded SBP eligibility to include all servicemembers who die on active duty. For these active duty servicemembers, SBP provides the maximum coverage of 55% of projected retired pay, which depends upon grade and posthumous retirement awarded w/30 years of service.
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) – a VA benefit paid to survivors of a military service member who died on active duty, a veteran whose death resulted from a service-related injury or disease, or a veteran whose death resulted from a non service-related injury or disease, but who was receiving, or was entitled to receive, VA Compensation for service-connected disability that was rated as totally disabling for either 5 years from disability retirement or 10 years.
Serves as a reparation or indemnity (hold harmless) payment for the death.
Provides a flat rate payment, currently $1,319.04 per month, regardless of the servicemembers' grade or length of service.
The Offset - Federal law requires a $1 reduction in SBP annuity for each $1 received in DIC.
For most active duty enlisted deaths, the SBP/DIC offset eliminates the SBP annuity, leaving survivors a total annual income of $15,828 ($1,319.04 X 12 months).
As of 2018, 273,647 of the surviving spouses currently receiving SBP, 65,255 were subjected to the offset. The average offset of DIC to SBP is $925 a month.
$615 a month will close the gap and finally eliminate the offset when SSIA is subtracted.
Military retirees whose survivors will be eligible to receive DIC often have limited options to purchase life insurance because of their history of disability.
Widows who remarry after age 57 and surviving spouses of government civilians are exempt from the offset:
On December 16, 2003, the Veterans' Benefits Act of 2003, P.L. 108-183, repealed DIC offsets for widows who remarry after the age of 57. On July 19, 2007, three widows sued the U.S. government, arguing that the Act applies equally to the DIC offset of SBP. On August 26, 2009, in Sharp v. United States, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that widows who remarry after age 57 must receive full SBP and DIC payments without an offset.
The ruling created two distinct classes of widows affected by the SBP-DIC offset, those who remarry after age 57 and those who do not. If you do not remarry, your SBP will be offset.
Surviving spouses of federal civilian retirees, who are also disabled veteran retirees that paid for SBP and die of a service-connected cause, can receive both DIC and SBP without incurring the offset or losing any of their purchased SBP benefits. This is because the retiree's status may be converted from a military retiree to civilian annuity, which is not offset.
Since 2005, the Senate has overwhelmingly supported repeal of the SPB/DIC offset. The provision, however, has yet to be included in the final bill. In the 111th Congress over 60 Senators cosponsored this legislation.
FY2017 SSIA extended permanently at $310 a month with COLA
FY2014 and FY2015 NDAAs no votes on amendments were allowed
FY2013 NDAA: SA 3073 to S.3254, budget point of order vote failed 58 Yeas to 34 Nays
FY2012 NDAA: SA 1209 to S.1867, agreed to by voice vote; stripped in conference
FY2011 NDAA: SA 4618 to S.3454, amendment submitted but not offered (clean NDAA, no amendments permitted).
FY2010 NDAA: SA 1515 to S.1390, agreed to in Senate by voice vote; stripped in conference
FY2009 NDAA: SA 4979 to S.3001, agreed to by Yea-Nay vote 94-2; stripped in conference
FY2008 NDAA: SA 2000 to SA 2011 agreed to in Senate by UC; stripped in conference
FY2007 NDAA: included in original text of Senate NDAA but not House NDAA; stripped in conference
FY2006 NDAA: SA 2424 to S.1042, agreed to by Yea-Nay vote 92-6; stripped in conference
FY2005 NDAA: SA 3470 to S.2400 submitted, not voted on.
FY2004 NDAA: no action
FY2003 NDAA: SA 3935 to S.2514 submitted, not voted on.
FY2002 NDAA: SA 1652 to S.1438 submitted, not voted on.
FY2001 NDAA: (offered by Sen Bryan (D-NV)) SA 3761 to S.2549 agreed to in Senate by voice vote; stripped in conference
Congress acknowledged the inequity of the offset in the FY08 NDAA when it cracked open the door to eliminating the offset by establishing a Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance (SSIA) -- a taxable $50 monthly payment to SBP/DIC-affected widows, which increased $10 per year through 2013.
Congress again acknowledged the offset's inequity in 2009 when it increased SSIA by $45-$75 per year, eventually reaching $310 per month by fiscal year 2017 in the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which became law on June 22, 2009. This provision was to expire October 1st, 2017, and has been permanently extended in the NDAA17.
For active duty deaths since 7 October 2001, Congress authorized surviving spouses to transfer the SBP annuity to their children, thus allowing the family to draw both SBP and DIC without offset. When their children attain majority, at age18 or 22 if full time students, SBP ends and the surviving spouse is left with only DIC.
Cost: Best guess estimate cost to be $5.3 billion over 10 years. The average payment to close the gap is now only $615 per month per surviving spouse to permanently close the gap.
Bills: HR553 introduced 1/15/2019 - sponsored by Rep Joe Wilson, R-SC and Rep John Yarmuth, D-KY and Senate bill xxx (not yet introduced).
Kathy Prout and Edith Smith Survivor Advocates
Military Widows: SBP-DIC Offset Facebook Group Administrators
SURVIVING SPOUSE CORNER: 2018 — A YEAR IN REVIEW
The Surviving Spouse Advisory Committee looks back at its accomplishments from the past year and highlights its goals for 2019.
By Gail Joyce, Surviving Spouse Advisory Committee
For MOAA surviving spouses, 2018 was a banner year. Here are some of the highlights:
Virtual Chapter — In March, MOAA’s board of directors voted to charter the Surviving Spouse Virtual Chapter, the association’s second virtual chapter. (The first virtual chapter was chartered two years ago for uniformed services nurses.) The Surviving Spouse Virtual Chapter meets quarterly. There are no dues; the only requirement to join is national MOAA membership. We now have about 70 members from 25 states. Our next conference call meeting will be Jan. 29. For more information and to participate, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Storming the Hill — In April, our committee members participated in Storming the Hill, during which we discussed with our congressional legislators four key issues affecting the military community. We learned that in addition to getting support/sponsorship of a bill, we must get a commitment to fund it.
Surviving Spouse Award — From a very talented pool of four nominees, we chose Anne Cutter Smith of the Greater Shoals (Ala.) Chapter as the recipient of the 2018 Surviving Spouse Liaison Excellence Award. She was recognized at the annual meeting in Phoenix.
Presentations — We continued to increase our visibility within the MOAA membership with presentations about surviving spouses and relevant issues at four regional leadership meetings in Florida, Illinois, South Carolina, and Arizona.
MOAA Scholarship — Surviving Spouse Advisory Committee (SSAC) members contributed to a MOAA scholarship in memory of Joyce Harte, who was the first surviving spouse representative on MOAA’s board of directors. She died unexpectedly in spring 2018. Gail Joyce, a member of SSAC since 2013, was elected to replace her on the board of directors.
Welcomes and goodbyes — We chose three new members for our committee, plus the addition of two virtual members — a new concept for the SSAC. At the annual meeting, we welcomed Kathy Thorp, Nancy Mullens, and Barbara Smith and virtual members Georgie Suitor and Cindy Bondi.
Simultaneously, we said goodbye to two wonderful members of the SSAC: Sharon DeVaney, who was an SSAC member for six years and served on the Health Care Committee, and Patricia Bergquist, who served for seven-plus years on the SSAC and was a member of the Councils and Chapters and the Government Affairs committees.
Goals for 2019 — We will continue to face new challenges and opportunities this year. Our goals include to:
grow our virtual chapter to 150 members representing 75 percent of our states;
recruit 20 new surviving spouse members for MOAA;
increase the number of state council liaisons from 50 percent to 75 percent;
continue to educate, encourage, and engage MOAA membership about spouse and surviving spouse issues;
conduct a survey to determine the needs and interests of surviving spouses;
continue to work for passage of a bill to eliminate the widows’ tax; and
develop and conduct at least one training session for spouses and surviving spouses at a national meeting to provide information about planning ahead.
MOAA SurvivingSpouse Virtual Chapter 02 (SSVC-02)
Dear Surviving Spouse:
Thank you for your interest in the MOAA Surviving Spouse Virtual Chapter. We are very excited about this new venture! Our purpose is to provide:
a national forum for surviving spouses of uniformed services officers,
a common space to communicate with each other,
information about concerns pertinent to each of us and our families, and
a platform to advocate for protection of rights for our members and our dependents.
Additionally, we want to become a reliable source for surviving spouses who live in remote areas, who are housebound, who have jobs and children, or who might be unable to participate at the chapter level.
MOAA’s board of directors chartered this virtual chapter March 5, 2018. It is MOAA’s second virtual chapter; the first is for uniformed services nurses. The Surviving Spouse Virtual Chapter is an “affinity group,” with members who can share information in a virtual environment with colleagues seeking to work together as we each adjust to a new life. We want to make a difference locally, state-wide, and nationally, because as members of national MOAA and its local chapters and councils, we “never stop serving.”
Some of the topics we will address, include:
Are you a new surviving spouse? Do you need information on where to go, who to talk to, the first steps, and then what to do next?
Did your spouse serve in Vietnam? Could he have been the victim of Agent Orange?
Are you eligible for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)? How do you apply?
Are you a recipient of the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP)? What are your benefits?
What is SBP/DIC? The “widows tax”? The Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance?
Rules on remarriage
Information you need to know about TRICARE, dental care, and vision care
We would like to invite you to join us in this exciting new initiative. Initially, we plan to meet quarterly. Our goal is to eventually have all 50 states represented. We all have busy lives, and we only ask that you participate to the degree you can. For additional information or to join the MOAA Surviving Spouse Virtual Chapter, contact Gail or Micki at email@example.com. We look forward to hearing from you, and we welcome your participation in our virtual chapter. Attached is a membership application for your convenience.
Yes! I would like to be part of this exciting new venture! Please accept my application below. I understand I must meet two criteria and certify I am both a member of national MOAA and(a) a surviving spouse of a uniformed services member (CWO and above), or(b) the spouse of a uniformed services member of MOAA and currently serving as a surviving spouse liaison, or(c) a uniformed service member currently serving as a surviving spouse liaison.
____a _____b ____ c (Please check applicable criteria.)
NAME (LAST, FIRST & MIDDLE):
MOAA#: IF NOT A MOAA MEMBER, JOIN ONLINE AT MOAA.ORG/JOIN (if you are a Surviving Spouse Liaison, please provide your spouse’s MOAA#)
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A SURVIVING SPOUSE?
SPOUSE’S NAME (if applicable):
RANK (if applicable):
SERVICE (SPOUSE): __ARMY__AIR FORCE__MARINE CORPS__NAVY __COAST GUARD__ NOAA __ PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE
BEST PHONE #:
IF YOU ARE A SPOUSE/ MILITARY MEMBER, HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN CONNECTED TO THE MILITARY? ___YEARS ACTIVE DUTY ___ YEARS RETIRED
I HAVE A FACEBOOK ACCOUNT, AND I AM COMFORTABLE WORKING ON FACEBOOK: __ YES __NO
You can either:
a. Complete this form on your computer, save it, and then email it as an attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org, or
b. Print out the form, fill it in by hand, and mail to 5808 Pebble Beach Dr., Granbury, TX 76049
Please email or call any of the names listed below with questions you might have. Thanks for joining us! You will hear from us shortly with information about our first meeting!