Thousands of widows fight for full survivor benefits


WASHINGTON DC (NEXSTAR) – Thousands of Americans whose spouse sacrificed their lives for our country are suffering another loss – their full survivor benefits.

“Why would we be taking something away from widows? Why would we be taxing them when they’ve given so much already?” Besa Pinchotti, National Military Family Association.

For decades, Pinchotti and the National Military Family Association have fought to secure the financial future of the families of those killed in action.

“They were talking about how their friends whose loved ones had died in Vietnam were not being taken care of,” Pinchotti said.  

Military wives founded the organization in 1969 to make sure widows and widowers get full survivor benefits after their spouse gave the ultimate sacrifice for the country.

Fifty years later, they’re still asking Congress to help more than 65,000 of these spouses across the country.

“What we’re finding is that a lot of these families are doing worse off financially after losing a loved one than they were beforehand which is ridiculous,” Pinchotti said.  

It comes down to two competing benefits. If the spouses receive both, part of the money, about $1,000 a month, is deducted.

New legislation would repeal what is known as the military widow’s tax.
The measure already passed the House.

This week, Alabama Democrat Doug Jones and Maine Republican Susan Collins sent a letter with support of 64 other Senators to make sure the repeal stays in the final version of the annual defense bill. 
“There has never before been more bipartisan support in Congress for repealing the SBP-DIC offset. Currently, there are 75 co-sponsors of legislation to repeal the widow’s tax in the Senate and 371 co-sponsors in the House. We have an obligation to make sure that we are taking care of our military families who have sacrificed so much. This problem goes back decades, but this year we can finally solve it once and for all. It is our time to do our duty not only to support the brave men and women of our military, but also to support their families,” Jones and Collins said in a joint statement.  

“It’s the closest that we’ve ever been to correcting this problem,” Pinchotti said.

While budget negotiations continue, lawmakers have been able to agree the country shouldn’t take away money from widows. But the hang-up has been on how to pay for the full benefits.

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