Jun 02 2010
Survivors of military members have an opportunity for two forms of survivors’ benefits. The most common is the purchased benefit called the Survivor Benefit Program (SBP) where the military member pays premiums from retired pay. Currently serving members are covered by SBP automatically. The other is a program ran by Veteran Affairs (VA) called Dependency Indemnity Compensation (DIC). DIC is paid to survivors whose spouse died of Service-connected causes.
If a survivor qualifies for DIC and is covered by SBP, the DIC amount is subtracted from the SBP amount. This is known as the SBP-DIC Offset. MOAA has fought against this offset for some time and continues to fight against the offset on Capitol Hill.
In August 2009, 3 survivors fought in the courts against the offset for their specific situation and won. They realized the law was worded differently for survivors who remarried after age 57. In this specific case, the law does not stipulate an offset. As a result, all survivors remarried after age 57 now receive full SBP and DIC payments.
As for the rest of you, MOAA now has a new argument in fighting for the elimination of the SBP-DIC offset given the Sharp case. In addition to the Sharp case in 2008, Congress admitted the offset was wrong but rather than eliminate the offset (which Congress claims is too expensive) they passed legislation that authorized a supplemental payment as a compromise to help restore some of the SBP benefit denied by the offset.
This program is known as Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance (SSIA). SSIA is administered by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) as is SBP. Here is the payment schedule for the SSIA:
Beginning Monthly Amount
October 2008 $50
October 2009 $60
October 2010 $70
October 2011 $80
October 2012 $90
October 2013 $100
October 2014 $150
Increases thru 2017
October 2017 $310
The SSIA is one foot in the door for the repeal of the offset. The Sharp case is another foot in the door. Elected representatives agree in principal for the repeal of the offset but the impediment has been the last minute consensus on how to pay for the offset elimination. The fight will go on.