Bipartisan Tester, Boozman Bill Will Strengthen Earned Support for Military Survivors and Families

Senators introduced Caring for Survivors Act to adjust monthly benefits for family members and survivors of veterans who lost their lives in service

Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-Ark.) are introducing bipartisan legislation to adjust monthly benefits for family members and survivors of veterans who lost their lives in service to our country.

The Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)—the rate of compensation paid to survivors of servicemembers who die in the line of duty or veterans who die from service-related injuries or diseases—has been minimally adjusted since its establishment in 1993. The Senators’ bipartisan Caring for Survivors Act of 2023 will bring parity to payments for DIC recipients, which currently lag behind other Federal program payments by nearly 12 percent. 

“I will always defend the earned benefits and economic security of our military families who lost their loved ones in the line of service,” said Tester. “These families have endured the unimaginable and giving them more economic certainty is something everyone should support. That’s why I’m introducing a bipartisan bill to fix outdated policies and bring surviving spouses and family members’ earned benefits in line with other federal programs—ensuring survivors receive the benefits they need and have earned.”  

“We must better care for the loved ones of troops who have made the ultimate sacrifice,” said Boozman. “Updating benefits for military survivors to match those provided by other federal programs will help us continue to live up to the promises we made to our servicemembers and their families.”

Under current law, DIC restricts benefits for survivors if the veteran was disabled for less than ten years before his or her death. The Caring for Survivors Act would reduce the timeframe a veteran needs to be rated totally disabled from ten to five years—broadening eligibility to more survivors.

Veterans Service Organizations and a disabled veteran applauded the Senators’ bipartisan effort to provide surviving spouses and family members their due benefits.

“The Caring for Survivors Act of 2023 will make needed improvements to benefits for survivors of military servicemembers who die in the line of duty, and veterans whose death resulted from a service-related disability,” said Paralyzed Veterans of America Associate Executive Director of Government Relations Heather Ansley. “We appreciate the efforts of Senator Tester and Senator Boozman to move this important legislation forward.”

“Gold Star Wives is grateful to Chairman Tester and Senator Boozman for their support of our widows/widowers of our military service members,” said Gold Star Wives President Tamra Sipes. “We are the women and men left behind. We pick up the pieces for our spouses, reinvent our lives and try to make life as normal as possible for our children. We are the true single parent families left in communities where we often don’t know anyone, we have no one to go back to, and we have to reinvent our lives. This bill for widows/widowers of our military service members acknowledges that sacrifice, and provides us with a small, but meaningful increase to assist our daily living.” 

“The last thing surviving spouses, children and parents should have to worry about is making ends meet following the death of their veteran,” said Disabled American Veterans National Legislative Director Joy Ilem. “The Caring for Survivors Act of 2023 would increase the rate for dependency and indemnity compensation, which will provide these families with much-needed financial stability, particularly during such a difficult time. We thank Sens. Tester and Boozman for their leadership in introducing this crucial legislation.” 

“AMVETS is honored to support this meaningful, and overdue, legislation that will provide an increase to DIC for our widows/widowers. For decades AMVETS has watched this not get prioritized, and we are hopeful that Congress gives this increase serious and timely consideration. Our widows deserve significant consideration this Congress. These men and women paid the ultimate sacrifice, and for years their needs have been overlooked by Congress. We applaud Chairman Tester for his efforts to right the ship,” said AMVETS Commander Don McLean.

“The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) is extremely grateful to Senators Jon Tester and John Boozman for introducing the Caring for Survivors Act of 2023, which strengthens Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) for 450,000 eligible survivors, and reduces the timeframe a veteran needs to be rated totally disabled allowing more survivors to become eligible for important DIC benefits,” said TAPS President and Founder Bonnie Carroll. 

“As a disabled veteran, I am very happy and relieved to hear that Senator Tester is working to support veterans and surviving spouses by introducing the bipartisan Caring for Survivors Act,” said Montana veteran Phil Montgomery. “I thank Senator Tester for leading the effort in Congress to ensure military families are provided their earned VA compensation, and I urge Congress to pass this bill without any delay.”


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