Today, US Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) co-sponsored legislation that would enhance the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) benefits for survivors of severely disabled veterans and increase access to benefits for more families. DIC benefits are given to spouses and families who have a family member killed when on duty, or as a result of their service, as well as survivors of disabled veterans who have been disabled for many years. This bill was introduced by Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR).
"This Memorial Day we want to honor those who have served our country," Kohl said. "It is important to ensure our soldiers are taken care of and put their minds at ease by making sure their loved ones will be protected."
The Veterans Survivor Fairness Act will increase benefits by approximately $300 per month for survivors whose spouses die while in active military duty or as the result of a service connected injury or illness. Additionally, the legislation will allow survivors to receive 50 percent of the total DIC payments should their spouse pass away due to a non-service connected cause, but have been deemed totally disabled for at least five years.
The bill will also allow surviving spouses to receive DIC payments if they remarry at or after the age of 55, as opposed to the current age of 57. Other federal programs, including the Department of Defense Benefit plan and Federal Employees survivor benefit plan, allows surviving spouses to remarry and retain their benefits. According to the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs, this legislation will help 2,000 families of veterans in Wisconsin.
The legislation is supported by the Wisconsin County Veterans Service Officers Association, the Disabled Veterans of America and the National Military Family's Association.