Senators Collins, Jones led bipartisan effort to put an end to the unjust policy that affected 67,000 surviving military spouses—including more than 260 in Maine
Washington, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Doug Jones (D-AL) announced that their legislation to repeal the military widow’s tax has been signed into law as part of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Earlier this week, Senator Collins delivered remarks from the Senate floor encouraging her colleagues to support the bill.
Since introducing the bill in March, Senators Collins and Jones have worked tirelessly to garner support among their colleagues in both the Senate and House, as well as to make the case on behalf of the 67,000 surviving spouses—including more than 260 in Maine—who are impacted by the military widow’s tax. Under their leadership, the bill earned a record-high 78 total cosponsors in the Senate.
“This provision we secured in the NDAA is a major victory for surviving military and retiree spouses to whom we are deeply indebted. The military widow’s tax was an unfair offset that prevented as many as 67,000 surviving spouses—including more than 260 from Maine—from receiving the full benefits they deserve,” said Senator Collins. “This year we finally solved this problem once and for all. I appreciate the overwhelming support we received from our colleagues as well as veterans advocates who helped make this possible.”
“When we introduced this legislation, we knew we were fighting an uphill battle on behalf of these surviving spouses. Together, we were undeterred by the task and committed to them that this was the year it would finally get done. There is no more noble of a cause than to do the right thing for our military families who have lost their loved one in service to our country. It is for these surviving spouses and their families that we took up this fight, and I am honored to be standing with them as we finally put this injustice behind us,” said Senator Jones, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“The Southern Maine Chapter, Military Officers Association of America salutes Senator Susan Collins for being a leader in the Senate to repeal what is known as the Military Widow’s Tax in the FY20 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). She understood the injustice of taking away a significant portion of a military retiree’s pension when they died, especially when it was a service-related death and for many years after retirement that the military member paid into the program. The program in effect was a slap in the face, while every other federal survivor segment receives concurrent benefits. Thank you, Senator Collins, for making a difference in the lives of our American Heroes, and especially their families,” said CDR Richard H Tetrev, USN (Ret.), President of the Military Officers Association of America’s (MOAA) Southern Maine Chapter.
“MOAA has long fought for the repeal of the widow’s tax, and we are so pleased that it is finally becoming a reality. MOAA is especially grateful to Senators Collins and Jones for championing this bipartisan effort in Congress and for seeing it to the finish line. Military spouses will no longer be forced to forfeit part or all of their Survivor Benefit Plan when they are awarded the VA’s Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, ensuring that veterans’ surviving family members will receive the benefits they deserve,” said Jim Settele, CAPT, USN (Ret.), MOAA member, former President of MOAA Pine Tree Chapter of Maine.
In June, Senators Collins and Jones led a bipartisan colloquy on the Senate floor calling for the Military Widow’s Tax Elimination Act of 2019 to be voted on as an amendment to the FY2020 NDAA. In August, Senators Collins and Jones sent a letter, signed by nearly two-thirds of the Senate, urging leadership of the Committee on Armed Services to include language in the FY2020 NDAA to repeal the widow’s tax.