War Widows Fight to Collect Deceased Spouse’s Benefits

Sunday, February 14, 2010

For many Americans who lose their spouse, they at least have the consolation of receiving pensions and benefits from their husband’s or wife’s employer. That’s not the case for spouses of military personnel who have been denied survivors benefits as a result of the so-called “widows’ tax.”

For the fifth year in a row, some members of U.S. Senate are trying to eliminate the policy that denies some widows and widowers the opportunity to collect fully both their deceased spouse’s retirement pay and the full annuity that their husbands or wives purchased before they died. Legislative attempts to correct this situation have failed because of complaints by other lawmakers who contend the government can’t afford the change. Eliminating the “widows’ tax” would affect 54,000 survivors of conflicts ranging from World War II to Afghanistan, and cost the government $6.7 billion over a decade.
In 2007, then-Sen. Barack Obama co-sponsored legislation to change the policy, but now that he is president, Obama has not included the change in his federal budget.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Promises, Promises: War Widows’ Futile Fight (by Kimberly Hefling, Associated Press)


Leave a comment