TAPS Celebrates the end of the Widow's Tax at Event on Capitol Hill
Advocates and more than 120 surviving family members of our fallen military crowd reception to celebrate a milestone sought for nearly 2 decades.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - February 5, 2020
ARLINGTON, Va. – The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), the leading national nonprofit organization caring for the families of our nation’s fallen military heroes, marked the end of the widow’s tax with attending a reception on Capitol Hill.
More than 120 surviving family members attended the event yesterday, which celebrated the repeal of the widow’s tax, also known as the SBP/DIC offset. The reception was hosted by a group of organizations, including TAPS, Gold Star Wives of America, Military Officers Association of America, the National Military Family Association, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
The offset unfairly penalized more than 65,000 surviving spouses of our fallen military, and reduced the benefits surviving families receive from the Department of Defense’s Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) and the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) dollar for dollar.
As a result, the offset prohibited surviving military families from receiving the full sum of financial support their service member sacrificed and paid for.
In May 2019, TAPS joined a group of 30 veterans service organizations for a “Storm The Hill” event to advocate for the elimination of the offset. Military widows, children, and other survivors were paired up with advocates to visit Congressional offices and request legislation to overturn the offset.
The offset was repealed in December 2019 through legislation attached to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). “Axing the widows tax means that over 65,000 surviving spouses of our fallen troops will receive the full benefits their service member earned. It will make these deserving families' lives so much better, and I am thrilled to celebrate this historic moment with so many wonderful grassroots advocates, policymakers, and veterans service organizations,” said Bonnie Carroll, TAPS founder.
"I know my husband, Rick, would be so proud that we've secured benefits that he paid for with his life. And that the widows of all the Marines he has lost will now get their benefits. That's a great feeling. It's a fabulous success,” said Barb Christie, Air Force veteran and widow of Marine Colonel Rick Christie.
Key Congressional and Senate leaders attending the reception included:
- U.S. Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who led efforts in Congress.
- U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL), who sponsored Senate Bill 622, the Military Widow's Tax Elimination Act of 2019.
- U.S. Representative Joe Wilson (R-SC), who sponsored House Bill 553, the Military Spouse’s Equity Act.
- U.S. Representative John Yarmuth (D-KY), who chaired the Budget Committee and co-sponsored the legislation.
Senator Jones commented in a press release in December, “A great deal of credit must also go to the widows themselves, so many of whom have been coming to Capitol Hill year after year to bring attention to this gross injustice on behalf of their fellow surviving spouses.”
"This SBP-DIC Offset bill means I get to keep my house. I had come to the realization that, as my children were aging out [of their benefits] and that money was going to be gone, selling my house was really my only option. That was hard because I bought the house after my husband passed and I had to move out of base housing. It was our dream home. I raised my kids there and I was going to lose it. But this means I get to keep my dream home,” said Malia Fry, Marine Corps widow of U.S. Marine Gunnery Sergeant John Fry.
Legislation to repeal the widow’s tax had been repeatedly introduced in the Senate for nearly two decades to roll back the law, which was enacted in 1972. The bill earned a record-high 78 cosponsors in the Senate.
The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) is the leading national organization providing compassionate care and survivor support services for the families of America’s fallen military heroes. Since 1994, TAPS has offered support to more than 90,000 survivors of fallen military in the form of peer-based emotional support, grief and trauma resources, grief seminars and retreats for adults, Good Grief Camps for children, casework assistance, connections to community-based care, online and in-person support groups and a 24/7 resource and information helpline for all who have been affected by a death in the Armed Forces. Services are provided free of charge. For more information go to taps.org or call the toll-free TAPS resource and information helpline at 1.800.959.TAPS (8277).
Photos/Media contact: Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for information about photos or to book an interview with surviving family members or TAPS founder and military widow, Bonnie Carroll.