Lawmaker's Efforts on Survivors' Benefits Pay Off
Fales, John, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Dear Sgt. Shaft:
Thank you for spreading the good news in your June 1, 1998, column: The repeal of the 1990 law that denied surviving spouses of veterans who died from a service-connected disability their Department of Veterans Affairs Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) if their subsequent marriage ends was long overdue.
As a member of the House committee that drafted the final version of this legislation, I was so pleased that my bill (H.R. 2004) was included in the larger transportation bill and that we were able to remove the inequity suffered by these surviving spouses.
Rep. Bob Filner, California Democrat
Dear Mr. Filner:
Kudos to you and to all the members of the House and Senate who labored and were successful in passing this equitable and deserving legislation. As you can see from the following letter, your job is just beginning.
We must ensure that these deserving Gold Star wives, who have given so much, are made whole. Military medical benefits should also be restored to them, and their DIC should be equal to other federal survivor benefits.
You also must be heartened by the VA fact sheet on DIC, also appearing in this column. It is vital to enlighten those eligible Gold Star gems about the restoration of their DIC benefits.
Dear Sgt. Shaft:
I was delighted to learn from your June 1, 1998, column that a bill has been introduced to restore Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) to surviving spouses of veterans when such spouses have remarried and then lost their subsequent mate.
However, I am interested in how we can get this bill taken one step further - to allow continuance of benefits to surviving spouses who do not remarry until late in life; i.e., are older than, say, 65 when they remarry.
Enacting such a provision would correct a severe injustice to elderly surviving spouses who not only have lost their mates, but have lost all benefits for which they sacrificed so much to enable their deceased spouses to pursue a military career.
Only the Department of Veterans Affairs permanently cancels survivors' benefits to spouses who remarry regardless of their ages. For instance, the Department of Labor continues workers' compensation benefits to surviving spouses 60 or older who remarry, and civil service continues benefits to surviving spouses 55 or older who return to the altar. Even Social Security recipients 60 or older are not denied benefits if they elect to remarry.
Why can't the VA do likewise? Are veterans' spouses somehow considered less deserving?
As you can see in the above letter, I suspect that Rep. Filner and many of his colleagues will be made aware of your appeal for survivors' benefits equity.
To Joe Thompson, VA undersecretary for benefits, for taking the sarge's recommendation and creating and highlighting the following fact sheet on DIC restoration:
Q: Following the death of my husband, who was killed in Vietnam, I remarried and my DIC payments were terminated. …