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U.S. House Passes NDAA with Amendment to End 'Widow's Tax'
Kentucky Ag Connection - 12/12/2019

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the final Conference Report for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 (NDAA), legislation to fund our nation's military. Earlier this year, Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) was successful in including a provision to repeal the Survivor Benefit Plan-Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (SBP-DIC) offset in the House version of NDAA. The Yarmuth provision was retained in this final version of the legislation.

For more than 40 years, the SBP-DIC offset has reduced benefits for the surviving spouses of fallen service members. It is commonly referred to as the "Widow's Tax" and reduces benefits for surviving families by thousands of dollars each year.

"Ending this egregious offset is a momentous victory for the more than 60,000 surviving spouses and families of our nation's fallen heroes," said Yarmuth. "It's not every day that Congress comes together and fixes a problem that has been on the books for more than four decades, but this issue is too important to go unaddressed any longer. I'm glad we were able to get this done once and for all. Our nation's Gold Star Families have sacrificed enough."

Yarmuth's amendment corrects a provision in current law that unfairly required surviving spouses of deceased military members to forfeit part or all of their Department of Defense Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) annuity when they receive Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) from the Department of Veterans Affairs. There are more than 60,000 surviving families negatively impacted by the SBP-DIC offset, which reduces surviving spouses' benefits by an average of $924 per month, or $11,000 annually.

Repeal of the offset will be phased in over three years. Consideration of the NDAA Conference Report now moves on to the Senate, where it is expected to pass. The White House has also announced that President Donald Trump will enthusiastically sign the bill.

After being contacted by a constituent impacted by the offset and whose husband tragically passed away during training exercises, Yarmuth became the lead Democratic sponsor of standalone legislation that would eliminate the offset, H.R. 553, the Military Surviving Spouses Equity Act, introduced and co-lead Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC).

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