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  • 24 Aug 2020 5:23 PM | Nancy Menagh (Administrator)

    DIC Improvement Act of 2019: S.1047

    26 Apr 2019 3:28 PM | Maia Stanhope

    DIC Improvement Act of 2019: S. 1047

    WE NEED YOUR VOICE!

    Now is the time for action and we need your help. We have a chance to encourage our Senators to pass Bill S.1047 which would increase DIC

    What is Bill S. 1047?

    During the 116th Congress, Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) introduced a free standing bill, entitled Dependency and Indemnity Compensation Improvement  Act of 2019:  S. 1047 which will increase the DIC for survivors from 43% ($1319.04) to 55% ($1681.42) of a single 100% disabled veteran’s compensation * (currently $3057.13).  This bill, if passed into law, will cause no further increase to the SBP/DIC offset.  Bringing DIC compensation to 55% would provide parity with other Federal survivor programs.  For most of us this would be an increase of around $300.

    *2001 Public Law 107-107 states a deceased service member is the equivalent of 100% disabled, which is why the increase used is compared to a single 100% disabled veteran’s compensation.

    Why does S. 1047 matter to me?

    The latest statistics from the Veterans Benefit Administration Annual Benefits Report of Fiscal Year 2018, updated as of September 30, 2018, indicates that 422,979 surviving spouses receive DIC. They represent 95.90% of total DIC recipients. (The other DIC recipients are children and parents who number: 17,402 or 4.10%). If S.1047 is passed, it means that each of us will get approximately $300 per month in addition to the DIC we currently receive.

    How can I help?

                    We have just two years to tell our Senators to get this bill passed before we would have to start all over again with a new Senate. You can help by contacting your Senators and urging them to co-sponsor and VOTE for S.1047.

    How do I contact my Senators?

                    Call:      (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected to your Senator.

    What do I say?

                    My name is ______________. I am the military widow of ________________who was KIA in _______________ or died of a service connected disability related to____________ while in service to this country. I am a member of the Gold Star Wives of America, Inc. I am requesting that you agree to co-sponsor and VOTE for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation Improvement Act of 2019: S. 1047.

    It is a Bill that will increase the Military Surviving Spouses’ compensation known as DIC to be at the same percentage (55%) of compensation that a Federal Employee’s Surviving spouse receives. DIC has not had an increase except for COLA since 1993. The income of many of these older surviving spouses is only from DIC and perhaps a little Social Security.  Thank you for your time and attention to my request.


  • 24 Aug 2020 5:22 PM | Nancy Menagh (Administrator)

    HR 3221, the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation Improvement Act of 2019

    26 Jun 2019 9:44 AMMembership Office (Administrator)

    On June 12th of this year, Congresswoman Jahana Hayes of Connecticut introduced the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation Improvement Act of 2019 with bill number HR 3221. This bill will create a fund to pay additional money to those who receive DIC payments so that the total compensation is equal to 55% of a single 100% disabled veteran’s compensation and would bring parity with other federal survivor programs. 

    This legislation was introduced in the 116th session of Congress, which means we have until the end of December 2020 to get this done; which also means we need your help now. Below is a draft letter that you can send to your Member of the House of Representatives asking them to support this legislation.


    Letter for House of Representatives


    The Honorable (Insert Name of Representative)
    Address

    Dear Representative XXXX,

    My name is XXXXX and I am a Member of the Gold Star Wives of America, Inc. As you may know, the Gold Star Wives is a national organization that represents those of us who have lost a spouse in the service of our country. I would like to thank you for your service to our nation as my Representative and for hearing my concerns.

    I wanted to bring to your attention, and seek support for HR 3221, the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation Improvement Act of 2019.

    This bill is critical to surviving spouses. I’d like to tell you why it is important to me.

    The bill would create a fund to ensure that those of us who receive DIC payments would get compensation equal to the compensation paid to other federal employee spouses. The fact that military widows are not paid the same as other federal government spouses is not fair. As it stands right now, DIC recipients, on average, only receive 43% of a single 100% disabled veteran’s compensation. This bill would create a separate fund that would bring the total compensation to surviving spouses up to 55%, which is on par with other federal survivor programs.


    Now is the time to fulfill the promise made to those of us who have sacrificed along with our loved ones. Thank you so much for your time. If you, or your veteran’s affairs staffer would like more information, we have an advocate in Washington, D.C. His name is Lars Anderson and he can be reached at lars.goldstarwives@gmail.com.

    Thank you.

     



  • 10 Jul 2020 12:23 PM | Nancy Menagh (Administrator)

    CURRENT SURVIVOR LEGISLATION 2019-2020

    A bill to require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to secure medical opinions for veterans

    with service-connected disabilities who die from COVID-19 to determine whether their

    service-connected disabilities were the principal or contributory cases of death, and for

    other purposes ( S.4166) – SVAC

    Introduced in the Senate 07/02/2020, Sponsor: Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ),

    Co-Sponsor: Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC)

    Requires VA Secretary to secure medical opinions for veterans with service-connected

    disabilities who die from COVID-19 to determine whether their service-connected

    disabilities were the principal or contributory cases of death.

    Dependency and Indemnity Compensation Improvement Act of 2019 ( H.R.3221/S.1047) -

    SVAC/HVAC

    Introduced in the Senate 04/04/2019, Sponsor: Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), Co-sponsors:

    Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), 4 current co-sponsors

    Introduced in the House 06/12/2019, Sponsor: Johanna Hayes (), Co-Sponsors: Rep.

    Derek Kilmer (D-WA-6), Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC-At Large), Rep. Lance

    Gooden (R-TX-5), Rep. James Himes (D-CT-4), Rep. Susan Wild (D-PA-7), 19 current

    co-sponsors

    Creates an allowance for a deceased veteran's or deceased service member's surviving

    spouse who is receiving dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC) from the

    Department of Veterans Affairs.

    The bill provides a formula for calculating the monthly rate of the allowance based on the

    DIC amount the spouse is entitled to receive.

    Raises DIC to 55 percent of the rate of monthly compensation

    Leasing Relief for Dependents of Fallen Heroes and Injured Servicemembers Act of 2020

    (S.3854) - SVAC

    Introduced in the Senate 06/01/2020, Sponsor: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA),

    Co-Sponsor: Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH)

    Clarifies the termination of leases of premises and motor vehicles of servicemembers

    who incur catastrophic injury or illness or die while in military service.

    Caring for Survivors Act of 2020 (H.R.6933) - HVAC

    Introduced in the House 05/19/2020, Sponsor: Rep. TJ Cox (D-CA-21), Co-Sponsors

    Rep. Gil Cisneros (D-CA-39), Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL-3), Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ-2),

    Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-CT-5), 14 current co-sponsors

    Increase in the amount of dependents and survivors income security benefit payable to

    surviving spouses by the secretary of veterans affairs equal to 55 percent of the rate of

    monthly compensation of 100 percent disabled.

    Modification of requirements for dependents and survivors income security benefit

    payable by department of veterans affairs for survivors of certain veterans rated totally

    disabled at time of death from 10 or more years to 5 or more years.

    Eligibility for dependents and survivors income security benefit payable by department of

    veterans affairs for surviving spouses who remarry after age 55.

    To amend title 10, United States Code, to extend certain morale, welfare, and recreation

    privileges to recipients of the gold star lapel button (H.R.6412) - HASC

    Introduced in the House 03/27/2020, Sponsor: Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL-26),

    Co-Sponsors: Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ-3), Rep. John Rutherford (R-FL-4), 10 co-sponsors

    An individual who received a gold star lapel button under section 1126 of this title shall

    be permitted to use commissary stores and MWR retail facilities on the same basis as a

    member of the armed forces on active duty.

    Justice for ALS Veterans Act of 2019 ( H.R.4748/S.3091) - HVAC

    Introduced in the House 10/18/2019, Sponsor: Rep. Gil Cisneros (D-CA-39),

    Co-Sponsor: Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-1), 8 current co-sponsors

    Introduced in the Senate 12/18/2019, Sponsor: Sen. Christopher Coons (D-DE),

    Co-Sponsor: Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)

    Increases Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) to the surviving spouse of a

    veteran who dies from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease)

    regardless of how long the veteran had such disease prior to death. Under current law,

    such compensation is paid for a service-connected disability that was rated totally

    disabling for a continuous period of at least eight years immediately preceding death.

    Protecting Gold Star Families Education Act (S.1851) - Referred to Committee on Health,

    Education, Labor, and Pensions

    Introduced in the Senate 06/13/2019, Sponsor: Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), Co-Sponsors:

    Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC)

    Makes permanent and expands the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant that surviving

    children are eligible for if they are above the Department of Education Pell Grant limits.

    To qualify for assistance, dependents must be less than 33 years of age.

    Pell Grant rules pertaining to the determination of financial need do not apply to the grants

    awarded by this bill for veterans' dependents. Honoring All Veterans Act (H.R.3010) - HVAC

    Introduced in House 05/23/2019, Sponsor: Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY-4), 42 original

    co-sponsors, 58 current co-sponsors

    Adds the following as a mission statement for the Department of Veterans Affairs: "To

    fulfill President Lincoln's promise to care for those 'who shall have borne the battle' and

    for their families, caregivers, and survivors.”

    Veterans Estate Transfer to Survivors Act (H.R.2736) - Referred to Subcommittee on Disability

    Assistance and Memorial Affairs - DAMA

    Introduced in the House 05/14/2019, Sponsor: Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY-1), no co-sponsors

    Clarifies that the estate of a deceased veteran may receive certain accrued benefits upon

    the death of the veteran.

    Fry Scholarship Improvement Act of 2019 (H.R.2221/S.1283) - HVAC/SVAC

    Introduced in the House 04/10/2019, Sponsor: Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL-12),

    Co-Sponsor: Rep. Mike Levin (D-CA-49), 2 co-sponsors

    Introduced in the Senate 05/02/2019, Sponsor: Sen. James Lankford (R-OK),

    Co-Sponsor: Sen. Thomas Carper (D-DE)

    Expands Fry Scholarship eligibility to surviving spouses and children of National Guard

    and Reservists who are not activated at the time of death.

    CHAMPVA Children's Care Protection Act of 2019 ( H.R.2094/S.1034) - Referred to

    Subcommittee on Health/SVAC

    Introduced in the House 04/04/2019, Sponsor: Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA-26), 11

    current co-sponsors

    Introduced in the Senate 04/04/2019, Sponsor: Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), 10 original

    co-sponsors, 12 current co-sponsors

    Provides that a child shall be eligible for medical care under the Civilian Health and

    Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) until the child's

    26th birthday, regardless of the child's marital status.

    SFC Brian Woods Gold Star and Military Survivors Act (H.R.1911) - HASC/HVAC

    Introduced in the House 03/27/2019, Sponsor: Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL-6),

    Co-Sponsors: Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA-6), Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE-2), 35 co-sponsors

    Expands benefits for survivors of members of the Armed Forces.

    Provides commissary and exchange privileges to a remarried former spouse.

    Provides continued eligibility for payment of an annuity to a spouse who remarries,

    including a surviving spouse who remarried before the age of 55 and before enactment of

    this bill.

    Allows payment of necessary expenses for the transportation of a decedent's remains to

    two locations (if the second is a national cemetery.

    Allows payment of financial assistance to civilian providers of child care or youth

    program services furnished to survivors of members who die in the line of duty while on

    active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty for training.

    Provides continued eligibility of a remarried surviving spouse for payment of veterans'

    dependency and indemnity compensation, including a surviving spouse who remarried

    before the age of 57 and before enactment of this bill.

    To amend title 38, United States Code, to improve dependency and indemnity

    compensation for survivors of certain totally disabled veterans (H.R.464) - HVAC

    Introduced in the House 01/10/2019, Sponsor Rep. Walter Jones (passed away)

    Assuming First Sponsorship 09/24/2019 - Rep Troy Balderson (R-OH-12) asked

    unanimous consent that he may hereafter be considered as the first sponsor of the bill for

    the purpose of adding cosponsors, 6 current co-sponsors

    Improves dependency and indemnity compensation for survivors of certain totally

    disabled veterans.

    Requires VA to treat a notification of the death of a veteran rated totally disabled at the

    time of death as a claim by the veteran's surviving spouse and children for Dependency

    and Indemnity Compensation benefits. The VA may not require that such spouse and

    children file a claim for such benefits.


  • 14 May 2020 4:02 PM | Membership Office (Administrator)

    Congressman Andy Kim (NJ-03) led a bipartisan call to Congressional leadership to lower prescription drug costs for TRICARE beneficiaries by eliminating copays on mail order prescription drugs through the next Coronavirus relief package.  Read more about this effort at Insider NJ.

  • 17 Dec 2019 4:14 PM | Membership Office (Administrator)

    Update from MOAA: Senate Repeals Widows Tax, Sends NDAA to President for Signature 

    Excerpt: 

    The Senate on Tuesday voted to repeal the “widows tax,” a financial penalty affecting over 65,000 military survivors across the country. The measure passed as part of the fiscal year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

    The House voted to repeal the widows tax Dec. 11. The measure now heads to the White House for President Donald Trump to sign. In a tweet on Dec. 11, Trump indicated he would sign the bill. “Congress – don’t delay this anymore! I will sign this historic defense legislation immediately!”

    See the full article here: 

    https://www.moaa.org/content/publications-and-media/news-articles/2019-news-articles/advocacy/senate-repeals-widows-tax,-sends-ndaa-to-president-for-signature/

    Another MOAA article includes more information on this legislation as well as a picture of integral GSW members Kristy DiDomenico and Edie Smith. Link:

    https://www.moaa.org/content/publications-and-media/news-articles/2019-news-articles/advocacy/5-things-you-need-to-know-about-the-widows-tax-repeal-included-in-the-ndaa/
  • 13 Jul 2019 2:17 PM | Membership Office (Administrator)

    As reported at National Convention, you can use MOAA's Take Action site to ask Congress to support issues of importance to you (such as the DIC Increase). 

    Click this link - http://takeaction.moaa.org/?1 - and scroll down to to the topic you support (example "Act now to increase DIC) and click on that topic.  Then fill in your personal information and complete the form so that MOAA can send it to the key officials. 

  • 20 May 2019 5:09 PM | Membership Office (Administrator)

    The below template is also available as a PDF file


    Date ___________________________

     

    The Honorable _______________________­­­­______

     

    _________________________________________

     

    _________________________________________

      

    Dear Senator ______________________________,

    My name is ___________________________________________________________________.   

    I am a Member of Gold Star Wives of America, Inc. 

    As you may know, Gold Star Wives of America, Inc. is a national organization that represents those of us, who have lost a spouse in the service of our country, either in the line of duty or service-connected injury or disability.

    I would like to thank you for your service to our nation, as my Senator, and also for hearing my concerns. 

    I want to bring your attention, and also seek your support, for Senate Bill 1047, the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) Improvement Act of 2019.

    This bill is critical to surviving spouses and I would like to tell you why it is important to me. 

    The bill creates a fund to ensure that those of us who receive DIC payments would get compensation equal to the compensation paid to federal employee spouses. The fact that military widows are not paid the same as federal government spouses is not fair. As it stands right now, DIC recipients, on average, only receive 43% of a single 100% disabled veteran’s compensation. This bill would create a separate fund that would bring the total compensation to surviving spouses up to 55%, which is on par with other federal survivor programs.

    Now is the time to fulfill the promise made to those of us who have sacrificed, along with our loved one’s. Thank you for your time. If you, or your Veterans’ Affairs staffer would like more information, we have an advocate in Washington, D.C. His name is Lars Anderson and he can be reached at lars.goldstarwives@gmail.com 

    Thank you.


    My Address is:  _____________________________________________________

     

    __________________________________________________________________

     

    __________________________________________________________________

  • 9 Apr 2019 10:53 AM | Maia Stanhope (Administrator)

     FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  S.1047: DIC Improvement Act of 2019

    April 5, 2019

    Tester Fights for Stronger Benefits for Montana’s 1,000 Gold Star Family Members

    Senator recognizes Gold Star Wives Day with bill to bolster support for survivors of those killed in line of duty

    (U.S. Senate) – On Gold Star Wives Day, U.S. Senator Jon Tester is introducing legislation to better support spouses and children who have lost a loved one in service to this country.

    More than 1,000 Montana family members of service members who died in the line of duty, and of disabled veterans who died from a service-connected condition receive a monthly Dependency and Indemnity Compensation Benefit from the VA. Tester’s Dependency and Indemnity Compensation Improvement Act will give these family members an additional benefit amount. Doing so would make it fairer by bringing benefits for surviving military families more in line with federal employee and Department of Defense survivor benefits. 

    “Families who are grieving the loss of a parent who served this country should never face financial uncertainty,” said Tester, Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “These brave men and women have paid the ultimate sacrifice and it’s our duty to give their loved ones more economic security.”

    Tester’s bill also ensures survivors aren’t penalized for receiving these benefits by preventing an unfair offset that denies them the compensation to which they are entitled. Nearly 200 Montanans currently face this offset.

    Veterans and Gold Star families support Tester’s bill. 

    “I am grateful and very thankful that the Senate is willing to bring attention to those surviving spouses that have fallen far behind other federal programs and therefore have not gotten the full benefit of the ultimate sacrifice that our service members made," said Crystal Wenum, National President of the Gold Star Wives of America, Inc. “We think this is an issue that spans partisan politics and brings well deserved parity with other federal programs.  It is the right thing to do and I thank Senator Tester and the Co-Sponsors that have brought this attention to the DIC issue."

    “We applaud Senator Tester for reintroducing the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation Improvement Act in the 116th Congress,” said DAV National Commander Dennis Nixon. “DAV strongly recommends this legislation that provides greater support to deserving survivors of disabled veterans. A veteran’s lifelong disability or service-related death can result in undue economic hardship on their spouse and children; this legislation increases financial support for them after the passing of their loved one. We’re grateful Senator Tester has continuously advocated for not just service-connected disabled veterans, but for their families as well.”Tester’s bill can be read online HERE


  • 29 Mar 2019 5:35 PM | Maia Stanhope (Administrator)

    Reps. Waltz, Moulton, Bacon Introduce Legislation to Enhance Benefits For Gold Star Families and Military Survivors


    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Thursday, March 28, 2019

    Contact:Joanna Rodriguez

    202-225-2706

     Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, Representative Michael Waltz (FL-R), a combat veteran and member of the House Armed Services Committee, introduced bipartisan legislation with Representatives Seth Moulton (MA-D) and Don Bacon (NE-R) that would increase the benefits for Gold Star families.

    H.R.1911, or “The SFC Brian Woods Gold Star and Military Survivors Act,” is named in honor of Army Sgt. 1st Class William B. Woods Jr. who served with Waltz as an Army Green Beret and was killed on August 16, 2009 in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom.

    The 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 servicemembers 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 (current law only authorizes one trip); and
    • Authorize the Pentagon to extend the existing child care service assistance program (for civilian providers) to survivors of servicemembers that die in the line of duty.

    “The knock on the door that initiates a family into the Gold Star community is the most dreaded moment in a military family’s life,” Waltz said. “From that moment forward, these families deserve our best and most meaningful commitment in honor of their loved one’s sacrifice for our freedom and security. This bill would ensure the Gold Star families of our fallen are cared for by giving their children and spouses the lifelong benefits they deserve and transportation costs for a burial and memorial worthy of their sacrifice.”

    “When Gold Star spouses are handed a folded flag, it comes with a sacred commitment from the American people. That commitment is for life,” said Moulton. “That means Gold Star families should have the peace of mind that comes with knowing child care and funeral expenses are taken care of and that they will receive the nation’s lifelong financial support.”

    “Our Gold Star and surviving family members deserve a commitment for life,” Bacon said. “The SFC Brian Woods Gold Star and Military Survivors Act keeps faith with the spouses and families of the fallen. Since becoming a Member of Congress I have committed myself to this cause. This legislation builds on the important progress we made last year and I am proud to co-sponsor this important next step with fellow veteran Representative Waltz.”  

    A PDF of the bill is available here.


  • 28 Mar 2019 2:57 PM | Membership Office (Administrator)

    GSW National President Crystal Wenum testified at the Joint Hearing of the House and Senate Veterans' Affairs Committees along with multiple Veterans Service Organizations (NASDVA, FRA, GSW, BVA,JWV, MORH, MOAA). 

    You can watch the recorded hearing at the link HERE.

    Additional testimony materials will be added shortly. 

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