Tester Introduces Legislation to Deliver Stronger Benefits to Military Survivors and Families

(U.S. Senate) – To better support veteran families in Montana and across the country, U.S. Senator Jon Tester introduced his Caring for the Survivors and Families of Veterans Act of 2020, which would expand monthly Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) benefits to more surviving spouses and family members.

“Families who lost their loved ones in the line of duty—or from a service-related injury or illness—deserve economic security in return for the sacrifices they’ve made,” said Tester, Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “My legislation will provide more surviving family members with the financial assistance they’ve earned, by fixing outdated policies and broadening eligibility for benefits. It’ll also rid the current system of bureaucratic red tape to ensure that no survivor is forced to put their life on hold in order to retain earned benefits.”

The Caring for the Survivors and Families of Veterans Act of 2020 would improve the distribution of DIC benefits to military survivors and families through the following provisions:

  • Enabling eligible surviving spouses to retain DIC upon remarriage at age 55, instead of the current age of 57. 
  • Reducing the timeframe a veteran needs to be rated totally disabled from 10 to 5 years, allowing more survivors to become eligible for DIC benefits.

“These issues affect many within our membership, so much so that we’ve made them a top legislative goal,” said Disabled American Veterans (DAV) National Legislative Director Joy Ilem. “We are hopeful the Caring for the Survivors and Families of Veterans Act of 2020 will ease the burden on many veterans and their family members, and we thank Senator Tester for introducing this important bill.”

“The VFW supports this important legislation, which would permit surviving spouses to retain Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) upon remarriage at 55, and would make survivors eligible for DIC after a veteran has consistently held a total disability rating for five years,” said Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Deputy Director Matthew Doyle. “The VFW thanks Senator Tester for his efforts to expand DIC benefits for survivors who remarry at a younger age and whose spouses were ill for a shorter period of time.” 

“The American Legion is proud to support legislation that will secure the well-earned benefits for surviving family members of veterans who lost their lives as a result of their service,” said National Commander for The American Legion James W. “Bill” Oxford. “The significant sacrifices that have been made by surviving family members should not be curtailed as a result of arbitrary limitations. The American Legion will continue to work on behalf of survivors and families and ensure proper care and benefits are extended." 

"As a country, we owe it to the men and women whose injuries or disorders incurred due to their service rendered them totally disabled to care for those left behind,” said Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) Associate Executive Director for Government Relations Heather Ansley. “The Caring for the Survivors and Families of Veterans Act of 2020 honors that duty."

"The rate of compensation paid to survivors is outdated and unfairly penalizes spouses who remarry,” said AMVETS National Commander Jan Brown. “Our nation’s policies should not stand in their way for a second chance at love and building a family. The Caring for the Survivors and Families of Veterans Act of 2020 is a step in the right direction for those families who have paid the ultimate price."

"Senator Tester has always been a champion for the Gold Star Wives,” said President of the Gold Star Wives of America, Inc. Nancy Menagh. “From continually introducing legislation that helps our Gold Star families, he has been on the forefront in ensuring we get the benefits that were earned through the sacrifices of our loved ones. Today’s legislation continues this strong tradition. While there is a long way to go, we are proud to support this legislative effort."

A copy of Tester’s bill can be found HERE.