TRENTON, N.J. – The Assembly today voted to urge Congress to enact the Military Surviving Spouses Equity Act, reversing a federal law withholding monthly annuity payments from thousands of military widows and widowers.
“Brave men and women put their lives on the line for our nation and our freedom,” said Assemblyman Ron Dancer, sponsor of AR85. “They willingly accept the risks with the expectation that if tragedy strikes, their families will receive the benefits they earned. We’re calling on Washington to live up to the bargain.”
The equity act was introduced in Washington in 2017. If enacted, it will repeal the “Widow’s tax” requiring the surviving spouses of members killed in the line of duty to forfeit the survivor benefit pension annuity.
“Congress must move now to fix this unjustifiable practice that can cost survivors more than $15,000 each year,” said Dancer (R-Ocean). “This is no way to treat military families. This provision penalizes and robs military survivors of the benefits they deserve and paid for.”
Dancer noted the VA’s compensation in 2017 was approximately $1,200 per month, which wipes out almost all of the annuity payments for most survivors.
“Our military heroes are being betrayed by misguided federal policy,” said Dancer. “These families have paid for the benefits of the optional survivor’s annuity. They have taken steps to provide financial security, but they are penalized when their loved one dies in the service of our country. This is nonsense.”