July 7 2017

Snee Elected Co-chair of TMC
FRA’s Full Month’s Retired Pay Bill Introduced
Bill Introduced to Extend SSIA

NED Snee Elected Co-chair of The Military Coalition
National Executive Director Thomas Snee has been elected to co-chair The Military Coalition (TMC), a group of 33 military and veteran organizations that work together to advance legislation beneficial to military personnel, veterans and their families or survivors.

FRA is a founding member of TMC, and is the leading enlisted organization in the coalition. Monthly coalition meetings are held at FRA NHQ. FRA staff members co-chair the following TMC policy committees: HCA Bob Washington-Health Care Committee, DLP John Davis-Retiree Committee and NVSO Chris Slawinski-Guard and Reserve Committee.

Snee is in his fourth year as FRA NED. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy and attended recruit training (boot camp) at Great Lakes, Ill., from October to December 1965. He initially served as a Yeoman but in August 1973 changed his rating to Navy Counselor. Snee retired in September 1996 as the Force Master Chief, Navy Recruiting Command, Washington, DC. As a Master Chief Navy Counselor (Surface Warfare) he served in leadership and management positions for training and education, career development, recruiting and administrative duties. 

FRA’s Full Month’s Retired Pay Bill Introduced
Representative Walter Jones (N.C.) recently introduced the “Military Retiree Survivor Comfort Act” (H.R.3011) authorizing surviving spouses, or other designated survivors, to retain the full month’s retired pay for the month in which a military retiree passes away. “The Military Retiree Survivor Comfort Act” was introduced at FRA’s request and seeks to ensure survivors’ are not unfairly burdened when overpayments occur.

The problem most often occurs when a military retiree dies late in the month. As survivors mourn and sort out the details of their loved one’s passing, sometimes there is a delay in reporting the death to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS). If the death report and other administrative details aren’t handled before the next retirement payment is processed, an overpayment occurs for the period between the retiree’s death and the end of the month. DFAS has the authority to recoup this overpayment directly from the survivor’s bank account with little or no warning, often creating financial and emotional hardship for the family.

Jones’ proposal would allow survivors to retain the full month’s retired pay for any month in which the retiree was alive for at least 24 hours. To offset the cost associated with this proposal, a provision of the bill would delay the first Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) annuity payment until the month after the retiree passes. 

Congress passed a similar law in 1996, allowing surviving spouses to retain veterans’ disability and VA pension payments issued for the month of the veteran’s death. FRA believes military retired pay should be no different. This legislation is listed on the FRA Action Center (www.fra.org) and members are urged to contact their U.S. Representative to ask them to support this bill. 

Bill Introduced to Extend SSIA
Sen. Bill Nelson (Fla.) has introduced a bill (S.1411) to extend the Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance (SSIA) benefit that expires in May 2018. The bill provides a five-year extension of the SSIA payments. The Association supports this bill, however, FRA is also working to increase the payments of SSIA. 

FRA has long sought the elimination of the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) offset for widows and widowers of service members (H.R.846/S.339). This offset, also known as the “widow’s tax,” impacts approximately 63,000 widows and widowers of our Armed Forces. These widows and widowers should receive both SBP and DIC benefits without the current dollar-for-dollar offset.  SBP provides a surviving spouse 55 percent of their deceased spouse’s retirement pay. The retiree gains this coverage for their spouse by paying a premium equal to 6.5 percent of his/her retired pay. 

SBP and DIC payments are paid for different reasons. SBP is purchased by the retiree and is intended to provide a portion of retired pay to the survivor as stated above. DIC is a special indemnity compensation paid to the survivor when a member’s service causes his or her death. In such cases, the VA indemnity compensation should be added to the SBP the retiree paid for, not substituted for it. Currently this offset is more than $1,200 a month for many widows/widowers. It should be noted as a matter of equity that surviving spouses of federal civilian retirees who are disabled veterans and die of military-service-connected causes, can receive DIC without losing any of their federal civilian SBP benefits.

In 2008, Congress enacted the Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance (SSIA) which increased gradually and now pays approximately 25 percent ($310) of the offset. Unfortunately the SSIA sunsets in May 2018.  Members are urged to use the FRA Action Center to ask their legislators to support the SBP/DIC offset legislation (H.R.846/S. 339) and to ask their Senators to support extension (S.1411) as well as increase payments of SSIA. 



If you would like to hear a recorded version of NewsBytes, dial 1-800-FRA-1924 (ext. 112)

Follow FRA on Twitter (https://twitter.com/FRAHQ); Follow FRA on Instagram (www.instagram.com/fra_hq) and "like" FRA on Facebook (use the shortcut of www.fra.org/fb)




Connect with Us