“Absolutely ridiculous!”

November 16th, 2009 by MOTHAX

Imagine you spend the better part of your adult life with your soul mate. You marry and have children, and your spouse completes his/her military service. Your spouse was always very responsible, so during service sets aside a portion for the Survivor Benefits Plan. Then your spouse dies from a service-connected condition.

Now imagine that there is a law that says you have to marry again after age 57, or risk losing some of the money put into the savings plan. I know, too absurd to even think about, right? Unfortunately, that is the law of the land.

Nona Chubboy’s husband, an officer in the Navy, paid the premiums on a government insurance policy for years, expecting it to help his wife if he died.

Her husband, Louis, died of cancer linked to military atomic testing. But the only way Chubboy can collect the benefit is to do something she finds disloyal to her spouse’s memory.

The Tierra Verde woman would have to remarry. In a seemingly absurd quirk of federal laws on death benefits, up to 54,000 military widows and widowers around the nation are losing up to $13,000 a year in death benefits unless they take another walk down the aisle after age 57.

I don’t generally like to include too much of an article in a post, but this time I need to do so in order to more fully explain it.

The dispute involves monthly payments from two government programs that pay benefits to the surviving spouses or children of veterans: the Survivor Benefit Plan and the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation program. The DIC is administered by the VA and pays the spouse of a veteran who dies on active duty or of a service-connected illness or injury after retirement from the military. The SBP, administered by the Pentagon, is akin to a life insurance annuity paid to the spouse or children of active-duty troops or veterans who die for any reason.

Active-duty troops are automatically covered by SBP. But when they retire, they must opt to stay in the program and pay premiums. The government, however, has long barred spouses from collecting both benefits at the same time, regardless of age or marital status. So Uncle Sam subtracts whatever a spouse was owed under the DIC from the payment owed under the SBP — a loss of $1,154 a month for most spouses.

Here’s where it gets even more confusing. Congress passed a law in 2003 that said the surviving spouses of veterans could collect both SBP and DIC at the same time. But there was one condition: Spouses could only do so if they remarried after age 57.

Congress was trying to fix an unrelated problem: DIC payments stopped if a spouse remarried.

The bottom line: The only way to get both benefits is to find a new spouse after your 57th birthday.

Anyway, go to http://www.tampabay.com/news/military/veterans/vets-spouses-lose-a-death-benefit-by-staying-single/1051849 to read the full article.

SBP and DIC are two separate things, for two separate purposes. The offset is an abomination that needs to end. And this little loophole really makes me mad. If I spend my life with someone, and I suddenly lost that person, I doubt I could find it in me to marry someone else. I haven’t even gotten to the point where I can get a new dog after my last one. I’m just not strong enough to risk further loss. But to punish someone for that doesn’t seem a legitimate goal of our Gov’t. Tell me I’m wrong, but it seems to me the height of absurdity.

To join this discussion go to http://burnpit.legion.org/2009/11/absurd-the-sbpdic-offset-and-re-marriage/