Armed Services Committees Need Funding to End “Widows Tax”

January 19, 2018

MOAA is calling on lawmakers to end the widows tax on 67,000 military survivors.

Compared to the last session of Congress, there appears to be more momentum to address the issue. Currently, the number of House cosponsors to end the widows tax is up from 175 to 207; in the Senate, the number of lawmakers supporting repeal has increased to 37 from 30.

Widows Tax Explained

Current federal law requires survivors of deceased military members to forfeit part or all of their Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) annuity when they are awarded VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC). This loss of any portion of the SBP annuity is known as the “widows tax.”

Congress recognizes the inequity and has worked hard over the years to address the issue. Starting in 2008, Congress established the Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance (SSIA) to help military survivors affected by the widows tax. 

SSIA began as a 10-year temporary benefit. Thanks to the hard work of House Armed Services Committee chair Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), a provision in the FY 2018 National Defense Authorization Act makes SSIA permanent at its current level of $310 a month. Future increases will be indexed to inflation.

State of Play

“Last year's work by Chairman Thornberry was a strong good faith effort showing how seriously he takes this issue. There's concern in the survivors' community that lawmakers may consider the issue fixed and they can move on to other priorities,” said Jamie Naughton, Associate Director of Government Relations at MOAA.

Raising awareness of the issue is important. According to DoD's Office of the Actuary, over 40 percent of military survivors affected by the widows tax live in five states: Texas, Florida, California, Virginia, and North Carolina.


The increased support is deeply appreciated, but we know lawmakers won't be able to do much unless they're given the budget authority necessary to pay for ending the tax. 

The first step in the process is to get the House and Senate Budget Committees to give their counterparts on the Armed Services Committees - who have jurisdiction over military survivor issues - necessary funding to provide relief. 

Get Involved

Please send your elected officials a MOAA-suggested message asking your elected officials to end the widows tax for military survivors.


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