Tester, Boozman Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Deliver Stronger Benefits to Military Survivors and Families

Senators’ Caring for Survivors Act of 2021 would bring parity to Dependency and Indemnity Compensation 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 Senators’ bipartisan Caring for Survivors Act of 2021 aims to bring payments to Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) recipients in line with payments to surviving spouses of other Federal employees. 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. DIC payments currently lag behind other programs’ payments by nearly 12 percent.

“Families who lost their loved ones in the line of duty or from a service-related injury shouldn’t have to worry about their economic security,” said Chairman Tester. “Our bipartisan bill will fix outdated policies, bringing surviving spouses and family members’ earned benefits in line with other federal programs. And it’ll reduce bureaucratic red tape to ensure no survivor is unfairly kept from the benefits they need in the future.”

“Increasing DIC benefits for military survivors to match benefits provided by other federal survivor programs will help us continue to honor the promise we made to servicemembers and their families. Our bill will allow us to better care for the loved ones of troops who have made the ultimate sacrifice,” Boozman said.

Under current law, the 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 of 2021 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 applauded the Senators’ bipartisan effort to provide surviving spouses and family members their due benefits.

“The Caring for Survivors Act of 2021 will make important improvements to the benefits provided to the survivors of military servicemembers who die in the line of duty, and veterans whose death resulted from a service-related injury or disease,” said Paralyzed Veterans of America Associate Executive Director of Government Relations Heather Ansley. “We thank Senator Tester and Senator Boozman for reintroducing this important legislation.”

“Ensuring veterans’ survivors are adequately cared for is a deeply personal issue for many of our members,” said Disabled American Veterans National Legislative Director Joy Ilem. “We believe the Caring for Survivors Act of 2021 would ease burdens placed on both veterans and the family members they leave behind, and we thank Senator Tester for introducing this important legislation.”

“I am so glad that a bipartisan bill in support of Gold Star Wives is being introduced in the Senate,” said President of the Gold Star Wives of America Nancy Menagh. “Senator Tester and Senator Boozman are introducing this legislation to ensure that we get the benefits that were earned through the sacrifices of our loved ones. Today’s legislation continues this strong tradition of supporting Gold Star families in a bipartisan way. Also, as so many of our members have been the caregivers for our spouses before they passed away from their injuries and illnesses accrued on behalf of this nation, I am pleased that this bill also includes help to those 100 percent disabled veterans and their families who need the help in their daily lives. While there is a long way to go, we are proud to support this legislative effort.”

Text of the Senators’ bill can be found HERE.