No money to pay survivor benefits

By Tom Philpott: Military update It can be a frustrating time of year for 54,000 military widows who see their Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) payments wiped out or reduced by the monthly amount they receive in Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) from the Department of Veterans Affairs. As it has done routinely in recent years, […]

Survivor benefit often overlooked

By Tom Philpott: CNJ columnist The value of the military Survivor Benefit Plan has climbed sharply over the last three years as a steep drop in SBP annuities, which had hit surviving spouses at age 62, was phased down and then eliminated last April. SBP participation for newly minted retirees, however, has risen only modestly. […]

Retirees getting second chance at program

By Tom Philpott: Military Update More than 800,000 military retirees who declined the Survivor Benefit Plan at retirement will get another chance to buy into a much-improved program, starting this fall. But delayed enrollment won’t be cheap, particularly for retirees who left service during the last six years. Congress voted last year not only to […]

Recent benefits update was needed

by Tom Philpott Military survivor benefits for 270,000 elderly recipients, and the future value of the Survivor Benefit Plan for all beneficiaries, will begin to rise next October when the first of four special pay hikes takes effect. When the last one occurs, in April 2008, SBP annuities for older beneficiaries will have returned to […]

Plan’s changes don’t benefit spouses

By John Fondrick All the hoopla over the military’s Survivor Benefit Plan breaks down to political votes and whose pocket it will come out of. This is do-nothing, feel-good legislation so politicians can say “Look what I did for the veterans. Vote for me.” In reality, plans that call for increasing SBP benefits from 35 […]

Pentagon considers SBP reform options

By om Philpott: Military Update As House-Senate conferees prepare to deliberate differences in their separate plans for phasing out a sharp drop in military survivor benefits that occurs at age 62, the Bush administration says it has some “better alternatives” to improving the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP). Rather than phase out the age-62 drop in […]

DOD: Survivor Benefit Plan is costly

By Philpott: Military Update Defense officials, in a late-hour attempt to persuade senators not to join the House in voting to raise military survivor benefits, said the case for doing so has been built on a series of “mistaken assertions.” They also cautioned senators about the cost of enhancing the Survivor Benefit Plan’s $5 billion […]

New funds could reduce tax on benefits

Tom Philpott: Military update Using money unspent from a controversial Air Force tanker program, the House Armed Services Committee has voted for a speedier phase out of a sharp drop in survivor benefits for military widows and widowers at age 62. What lawmakers call the “widow’s tax” feature of the military Survivor Benefit Plan has […]

House votes to protect military income

Tom Philpott: Military update A House panel shaping its version of the 2005 defense authorization bill approved new income protection for mobilized Reserve and National Guard members, and a provision to phase out, starting in 2009, the sharp drop in military survivor benefits that occurs at age 62. The bill also would support a 3.5 […]

Congress ready to SBP offset at 62

By Tom Philpott: Military Update A quarter of a million surviving spouses of military retirees have moved two steps closer to seeing a dreaded drop in survivor benefits, which occurs at age 62, be phased out over the next decade. As the House and Senate in mid-March set spending ceilings for fiscal 2005, surviving spouses […]

Quality of life a priority for 2005 budget

By Tom Philopott: Military Update With open enthusiasm and some private hand-wringing, Congress began debating this month two initiatives that military associations and key lawmakers identified as quality-of-life priorities for the 2005 budget: Survivor Benefit Plan reform and the opening of TRICARE to drilling reservists. Advocates for widows and reservists gained some traction in early […]

Congress, DOD differ on scope of restored widow benefits

By Tom Philpott The current controversy is over a provision in the Veterans Benefits Act of 2003, which was signed into law Dec. 16. For years, widows who remarried lost their DIC entitlement. But Section 101 of the new benefit package (Public Law 108-183) allows veterans’ surviving spouses who remarry at 57 or older to […]

SBP, healthcare top retirees’ wish list

Tom Philpott Advocates for military retirees will press Congress this year to enact two more major benefit reforms, one to improve the oft-criticized Survivor Benefit Plan and another to move the government nearer to providing free healthcare to a generation of older retirees. Neither is expected to be backed by the Bush administration. The top […]