Military families fighting to repeal the 'Widow's Tax'

Published: May. 28, 2019 at 12:08 AM EDT
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Military families are fighting to repeal a law they say cheats thousands of military widows out of benefits each year.

It's dubbed "The Widow's Tax" and it prevents widows from getting money from both the Veterans Affairs office and the Department of Defense.

Some widows say they've lost out on nearly $1,500 a month because of this rule. They're now lobbying Congress to help them get their money.

"Knowing what they've faced, I just think it's just not a question, they should be supported," said Karen Colby, who was visiting the Vermont Veterans Memorial Cemetery Monday.

If a widow or widower agrees to not hold the federal government accountable for their loved one's death, he or she can get about $1,300 each month from the VA.

Some of those families signed up to receive money from the Department of Defense Survivors' benefit plan, but because of a 1972 law, it launched a program that blocked them from getting both funds.

"We have somebody close to us that is going through it," Colby said. "And it's been a long process and it's complicated. It's certainly not an easy process for people who are going through this."

For every dollar a widow gets from the VA, the Pentagon deducts one dollar from their survivor benefits plan. Groups are now calling on Congress to help them repeal the law and get grieving families the money they're owed.

The Pentagon says eliminating the tax could cost $6 billion a year out of their current $716 billion budget.

Advocates say it's worth every penny to give back to the families of those who lost their lives fighting for our freedom.

So far, about 360 Congressional lawmakers have signed legislation that aims to repeal this law.

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