Tuesday, U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D) spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate to call for an end to the military widow’s tax by passing his bipartisan legislation, the Military Widow’s Tax Elimination Act of 2019.
Senator Jones introduced the legislation last week with the support of 34 bipartisan cosponsors and key national advocacy organizations, including the Gold Star Wives of America, Inc. As many as 65,000 surviving military spouses are impacted by the widow’s tax, including more than 2,000 in Alabama.
“After suffering the loss of a loved one, military widows and their families can find themselves unexpectedly losing out on vital survivor benefits that they had planned to receive in these tragic situations,” Sen. Jones said. “That’s because, under our current law, surviving spouses are entitled to receive VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation benefits, or what is known as “DIC” benefits.”
“But some families go a step further, like many families in the private sector, many go a step further by voluntarily paying into the Defense Department’s “Survivors Benefits Plan,” which acts like an additional life insurance policy,” Jones continued. “That policy is something these families pay into, and like any other life insurance plan you or I might buy, they expect to get the benefits that they’ve paid for.”
“For those who are entitled to receive benefits from both programs, they are subject to what’s been known as the “Widow’s Tax”, because our law prohibits widows from receiving their full benefits from both programs,” Jones said. “Instead, their SBP annuity is pro-rated because their DIC payment is subtracted from it… Simply put – it’s really a way for the federal government to save a few bucks by ripping off military widows whose families paid extra to receive these additional benefits.”
“No surviving spouse should be faced with this kind of unexpected and completely unfair cut to the benefits they ought to be able to count on in these heart-breaking circumstances,” Jones stated. “The Military Widows Tax Elimination Act of 2019 reflects our belief that people who put their lives on the line for our country deserve to know that their families will be taken care of if something—God forbid—ever happens to them.”
S. 622 has been referred to the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Doug Jones defeated former Chief Justice Roy Moore (R) in the December 2017 special election to fill the remainder of Jeff Sessions term. Jones faces re-election in 2020.