Jones co-sponsors bill to eliminate ‘Widow’s Tax’ on veterans’ spouses

Published 5:01 pm Wednesday, March 6, 2019

On Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-AL, joined with a bipartisan contingent of legislators to reintroduce the Military Widow’s Tax Elimination Act of 2019, which would repeal a law that prevents thousands of military spouses from receiving full survivor benefits from the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA).

Under current law, surviving spouses of retired military veterans who die as a result of a service-connected cause, or active duty service members killed in the line of duty, are entitled to compensation for the VA.

If the deceased service member was also enrolled in the Survivors Benefits Plan (SBP) program, their spouse’s benefits are reduced by the amount paid in VA benefits, which leaves surviving spouses with only a portion of the benefits they had expected.

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Jones’ bill would eliminate this stipulation and allow for surviving spouses to collect benefits from both avenues.

“It is absolutely unacceptable that our federal government refuses to pay the widows and widowers of our nation’s heroes the full benefits they are entitled to, especially those benefit plans for which they have voluntarily paid into,” said Jones, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “No surviving spouse should be faced with this unexpected and completely unfair cut to the benefits they count on in these tragic circumstances. This is a tax on military families who have already sacrificed so much. We are going to work to right this wrong.”

Similar legislation has received bipartisan support in earlier sessions of Congress, as well as widespread support from veterans advocacy groups.