A  Scandalous “Widow Tax” on The Wives of Those who gave Their Lives for Our Country

There are about 54,000 widows who receive about $1,150 a month in Dependency and Indemnity (DIC) Compensation from the Veterans Administration.

Military personnel purchase a  Survivors Benefit Plan (SBP) that provides income for a surviving spouse when the veteran dies. If the veteran dies from service related causes, the $1,150 DIC is subtracted from the widow’s SBP payments that were paid for by her sponsor.

Widows of soldiers who died from service related causes are in effect penalized financially for their soldier husband’s sacrifice for his country.

The current House leadership before coming to power pledged to repeal the outrageous “widow tax.” They have not kept their word.

The FY 2008 Defense Authorization Act formally acknowledged the inequity and authorized these widows a $50-a-month Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance (growing to $100 a month over five years) as a “modest” first step toward resolving the inequity.

Col. Steve Stobridge, USAF-Ret. writing for the Military Officers Association of America, (MOAA) said “most affected widows deemed it (the $50 allowance) a slap in the face, considering it offsets less than 5 percent of their financial loss.”

The excuse for congressional leaders for not providing more was the difficulty of finding offsetting cost savings to fund a larger amount within congressional budget rules.

This is a ridiculous, outrageous excuse considering the billions of dollars congress has thrown at banks, other financial institutions, the automobile industry and forced funds on State governments that did not want them. It is becoming clear that congress does not care, or they would correct this inequity.

The only hope remaining this year is an amendment to the Senate-passed Defense Authorization Act (S 1390) sponsored by Sen. Bill Nelson D-Fla., that would eliminate the offset. But a similar provision last year was dropped during House-Senate negotiations. The excuse was the lack of cost offsets.

MOAA is working with other veterans’ organizations to help the widows who are being cheated by their government.

A retired major wrote to MOAA: “Like many other vets, I have an agent orange metastasized prostate cancer death sentence. I paid into SBP for more than 30 years yet my surviving spouse will not receive SBP due to the DIC offset. We pay for SBP and bought DIC with our lives.”

Members of congress should be punished for criminal treatment of military widows. They go unpunished after lying and cheating widows because the majority of the news media have no interest in fair treatment for veterans and their spouses who have sacrificed to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, some of whom have found a home in the halls of congress.

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Mike Scruggs