Senator† JEFF VAN DREW
District 1 (Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland)
Senator† TROY SINGLETON
District 7 (Burlington)
Senators Brown, Cruz-Perez and Addiego
†††† Urges Congress enact Military Surviving Spouses Equity Act.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
†††† As introduced.
A Senate Resolution urging Congress to enact the Military Surviving Spouses Equity Act.†
Whereas, Under current federal law, survivors of deceased military members are required to forfeit part or all of their Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) annuity when they are awarded Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA); and
Whereas, Currently, surviving spouses of active duty or retired members who died of a service-connected cause are required to forfeit $1 of their SBP annuity for each $1 received in DIC; and
Whereas, For FY 2017, the DIC was approximately $1,258 a month and the offset wiped out most if not all of the SBP annuity compensation for a majority of survivors; and
Whereas, Congress has made attempts to help some of the survivors by: raising the lump-sum death gratuity for deaths after October 2001; ending the offset for survivors who remarry after age 57; and authorizing the Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance (SSIA), a modest monthly rebate (approximately $310 in FY 2017) to SBP-DIC recipients subjected to this in equity; and
Whereas, However, the lump-sum increases in the death gratuity did not help the 95% of survivors whose spouses died of service-caused conditions before 2001. Forced to forfeit $1,258 a month, survivors view the SSIA $310 rebate a poor effort at restitution. Moreover, SSIA will terminate in May 2018 if Congress does not extend the allowance; and
Whereas, In 2007, the Veterans Disability Benefits Commission was asked to review the inequity and determined that when military service causes a memberís death, the DIC should be paid in addition to the SBP annuity, not subtracted from it; and
Whereas, The Military Surviving Spouses Equity Act is currently pending in Congress to: repeal certain provisions that require the offset of money paid in DIC compensation from SBP annuities for surviving spouses under 60 years of age; prohibit requiring repayment of certain monies previously paid to SBP recipients; and require certain military departments to pay the dependent children when there is no eligible surviving spouse; and
Whereas, This House urges Congress to pass the Military Surviving Spouses Equity Act because our nationís military personnel risk their lives to defend our nation and our freedoms and they should be able to trust that the benefits they designate for their families will be provided; now, therefore,
†††† Be It Resolved by the Senate of the State of New Jersey:
†††† 1.††† This House urges Congress to enact the Military Surviving Spouses Equity Act.
†††† 2.††† Copies of this resolution, as filed with the Secretary of State shall be transmitted by the Secretary of the Senate to the President and Vice President of the United States, the Majority and Minority Leaders of the United States Senate, the Speaker and Minority Leader of the United States House of Representatives, every member of Congress elected from this State, and the Secretary of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.
†††† This House urges Congress to enact the Military Surviving Spouses Equity Act.† The Survivor Benefit Plan annuity is purchased insurance and Dependency and Indemnity Compensation is paid for service-caused death.† The offset has been an unfair penalty that cuts earned benefits to military survivors.† Current policy allows for approximately $1258 per month to be off-set from a surviving spouseís pay, a defined insurance benefit.† This offset, a $15,095 annual reduction of deserved benefits, is a substantial burden for many surviving military families.† Our nationís military personnel risk their lives to defend our nation and our freedoms.† They should be able to trust that the benefits they designate for their families will be provided.