Under current law, 63,000 military widows are penalized $15,000 a year because military service caused their servicemember's death. The law requires deduction of the VA annuity for the service-caused death from the Survivor Benefit Plan annuity purchased by the retiring servicemembers. This is called the military "widow's tax."
To partially compensate for this inequity, Congress enacted a Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance (SSIA) (currently $270 monthly, rising to $310 next year), with the intent of eventually phasing out the widows tax altogether. But the SSIA will expire October 1, 2017 for lack of funding. Finding mandatory spending offsets for substantive action within the Senate Armed Services Committee's (SASC) purview is extremely difficult. But these deserving widows must have relief.
Please urge Senate leaders to provide SASC leaders additional mandatory spending offsets needed to include Sen. Bill Nelson's (D-Fla.) S. 979 (full repeal of the widows tax) or Rep. Alan Grayson's (D-Fla.) H.R. 4519 (5-year SSIA increase) in the FY17 defense authorization bill. The (10-year) offsets needed for these actions range from approximately $2 billion for H.R. 4519 to approximately $7 billion for S. 979 - more than the SASC can identify on its own, and thus the need for leadership help. Congressional leadership finds offsets for all kinds of things every year. Relieving a $15,000 annual penalty for survivors of military members whose service caused their death shouldn't be last on the list.