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.