Surviving Spouses
Virtual Chapter Quarterly Report
30 June 2018 - 30 September 2018

     Surviving Spouse Virtual Chapter was held September 18, 2018. Col Dan Merry, USAF (Ret), MOAA’s VP for Government Relations provided a report on Survivor Support and the SBP-DIC offset. Of importance was the news that Congress in September passed legislation insuring the payment of death gratuities even in the event of a government shutdown. There are approximately 65,000 affected Surviving Spouses and the average payment is about $938 per month.

To successfully repeal the SBP-DIC offset, we must focus on the following:

Seek more new co-sponsorships as soon as the bills are reintroduced in January 2019.

    o Make sure co-sponsors understand the issues about SBP/DIC and are prepared to support the effort and vote FOR its repeal of the offset and provide funding. Several co-sponsors this year actually voted against funding when the amendment was presented on the floor.
    o Develop a personal relationship with the local staffs of your congressional representatives, and encourage friends and family to go with you to talk with them.
    o Educate Congress that survivors, retirees, or veterans should not pay for their own benefits…our nation owes this debt collectively.

    The SSIA was approved to continue at $310/month and it is COLA protected. If we are to see this increase beyond just COLA, we will need a legislator to champion such a bill to basically offset part of the offset. Co-sponsors for any bill relating to SBP-DIC offsets need to be willing to waive the “PAY GO” (see August Military Officer Fighting for Budget Scraps) (example: this is how the post 9- 11 GI Bill was passed, there was no “paygo” and Congress voted to waive it). Dan Merry hinted that the SBP/DIC, Chapter 61 if funded would probably come from increase TRICARE and TRICARE for Life fees--hence take care of your own.

    MOAA is already engaged with members of Congress and is asking how much money was made by raising the pharmacy co-pay, the moneys from which were supposed to go to fund SSIA.

    Kathy Moakler, Director of Policy at TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) provided an overview of the TAPS To date, it has assisted over 85,000 with opportunities for Survivors and their children. TAPS is a member of the Military Coalition and as such works closely with MOAA and other members for the good of the military constituency. A free quarterly magazine is published for those who wish to subscribe.

    TAPS is also involved in Afghan Support Mission. Afghani soldiers’ widows, unlike US military widows, have literally nothing when their military member dies. In an effort to assist these women to live and educate their children, a partnership has been established where lapis lazuli is mined, cut into beads and fashioned into bracelets by Afghani widows. They are then sold by TAPS. These bracelets may be available at Annual Meeting in Phoenix for those interested to purchase.

Janet Oglesby

Last Updated: October 26th, 2018

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