Michael Waltz, Seth Moulton Working Again to Expand Gold Star Family Benefits

Last week, U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz, R-Fla., brought out a proposal to “restore benefits to widows and widowers of servicemembers killed in the line of duty.”

Last week, U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz, R-Fla., brought out a proposal to “restore benefits to widows and widowers of servicemembers killed in the line of duty.”

Waltz, the first Green Beret to serve in Congress, introduced the “Captain James C. Edge Gold Star Spouse Equity Act” with the support of U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., and U.S. Rep. Jason Crow, D-Col.

“Under current law, surviving spouses of fallen servicemembers lose their Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) benefits should they remarry before turning 55, and lose their Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) benefits should they remarry before turning 57.  The Captain James C. Edge Gold Star Spouse Equity Act would completely repeal this remarriage penalty,” Waltz’s office noted.

“Under current law, widows and widowers of servicemembers killed in the line of duty are forced to forfeit earned benefits should they remarry before 55 and 57,” said Waltz on Friday. “These arbitrary age limits are completely nonsensical and only punishes those who forever mourn the loss of their spouse. I’m proud to once again work with Rep. Moulton to help the Gold Star community and help these spouses keep their benefits.”

“When Americans sign up to serve in the military, they should know the American people have their backs. If they sacrifice their lives for our country, the least our country can do is take care of their families” said Moulton. “We owe a debt that cannot be fully repaid to Gold Star families. We must fix this for them.”

“The SBP is a death benefit provided by the Department of Defense.  A survivor of a servicemember who died on active duty is paid a benefit equal to 55 percent of their retirement pay if they had been retired at 100 percent disability at the time of death.  The amount of pay is dependent on the pay grade at the time of the servicemember’s death.  The DIC is a VA benefit paid to eligible survivors of active-duty service members and survivors of veterans whose deaths are determined to be service-related.  The current monthly DIC rate is $1,357.56,” Waltz’s office noted.

Gold Star Wives of America, Inc. is backing the proposal which was sent to the U.S. House Armed Services and the Veterans Affairs Committee last week. So far, there is no companion measure over in the U.S. Senate.

Waltz and Moulton have worked on expanding benefits to Gold Star Families before. Back in March 2019, Waltz introduced the “SFC Brian Woods Gold Star and Military Survivors Act.” Moulton and U.S. Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., were original cosponsors. According to Waltz’s office, that bill would “allow survivors that re-married to continue to have access to on-base facilities if they have dependent children; allow surviving spouses of service members who were killed while on duty to continue to receive DIC or SBP should they re-marry and ensures survivors that re-married before the bill becomes law are eligible to collect benefits moving forward; direct the Pentagon to pay the transportation costs of remains for those killed in combat back to their hometown for any memorial services and to a national cemetery of the surviving family’s choice…and authorize the Pentagon to extend the existing childcare service assistance program (for civilian providers) to survivors of service members that die in the line of duty.”

Reach Kevin Derby at kevin.derby@floridadaily.com

KEVIN DERBY
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