There are some 60,000 military widows and widowers who may be getting a bit more help from their government if the US House is able to pass through new legislation that would ease the current SPB-DIC offset. If it goes through, these spouses could see a fairer survivor benefits’ package. Right now, however, the idea is still in the planning stage with a House subcommittee that is looking into how changes might be made, and, of course, there are no guarantees that it will go anywhere.
The chairman of the House Armed Services subcommittee on military personnel, Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nev.), along with other members of the committee have begun gathering information and complaints concerning how the offset is affecting surviving spouses. At present, they are looking for ways to either eliminate the offset completely or reduce its effects.
SBP stands for Survivor Benefit Plan and is administrated through the Department of Defense. It is separate from the DIC. SBP provides a government-subsidized amount to survivors and is automatic for those deaths that occur during active duty. For retired members, participation requires opting in and paying a premium of 6.5 percent of retired pay. This will ensure their surviving spouses will get an annuity equal to 55 percent of covered retired pay upon the member’s death.
DIC stands for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation and is run through the Department of Veterans Affairs. It pays to surviving spouses of those military members who die of service-connected causes. This can include those deaths occurring while on active duty, as well as deaths in retirement if death is due to injuries or diseases contracted during active military service.
For the last 40 years, widows and widowers have not been able to collect on DIC and fully funded SBP. This is the offset law under scrutiny. Survivor annuities (SBP) must be reduced dollar for dollar by DIC. Currently, the basic amount of DIC is set at $1254.19 a month. At this level, it usually wipes out or greatly decreases any SBP annuity.
Currently, the offset relief that is helping some spouses is scheduled to expire in the fall of 2017. If Congress does nothing, the offset will go back into full swing and recipients will lose the offset benefits they now get. The current thinking is that Congress will, at least, act to continue the offset if they cannot eliminate the current rule concerning SBP-DIC payments.
In terms of complaints, many spouses argue that they should be allowed to collect both SBP and DIC as these are two different programs, run by two different agencies. A majority of Congressional members agree but have not removed the offset because of costs. Bringing the offset to an end would add $7 billion to current U.S. annuity obligations during the first 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.
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