Surviving Spouse Corner

Register Now2020 Virtual Military Spouse SymposiumApril 29-30, 2020

Register here for the 2020 Virtual Military Spouse Symposium. No matter where you are in your career, this two-day event can help you imagine where your career path can go and build a plan to achieve that vision. Join to take advantage of a powerful community and set of resources, all for free to military spouses

About SECO

The Department of Defense established the Spouse Education and Career Opportunities program to provide education and career guidance to military spouses worldwide, offering comprehensive resources and tools related to career exploration, education, training and licensing, employment readiness and career connections.


MAJOR SUPPORT COMPONENTS OF THE SECO PROGRAM


The Military OneSource Spouse Career Center offers free, comprehensive coaching services to all eligible military spouses. Career coaches offer specialty consultations six days a week and can help with the following:

Career Exploration icon
Career Exploration
Explore your career interests and skills.
Education icon
Education, Training Licensing
Learn about education options and licensure or credential requirements.
Employment icon
Employment Readiness
Prepare to join or re-enter the workforce and sharpen your skills throughout your career.
Career connections icon
Career Connections
Find network and career opportunities.

Take advantage of specialized coaching packages developed to help you succeed in your chosen career path. Call 800-342-9647 to choose from the following packages:

  • SECO Career Readiness Coaching Package
  • SECO Entrepreneurial Spouse Coaching Package
  • SECO Re-Entering the Workforce Coaching Package
  • SECO Science, Technology, Engineering Math – STEM – Coaching Package
  • SECO Health Care Coaching Package
  • SECO Intelligence and Cybersecurity Coaching Package
  • SECO New Spouse Coaching Package
  • SECO K-12 Education Coaching Package
  • SECO Federal Employment Coaching Package
  • SECO Permanent Change of Station Coaching Package
  • SECO Information Technology Coaching Package
  • SECO Career Pathways Coaching Package
  • SECO Freelancing in a Gig Economy Coaching Package

Sign up now for SECO Coaching Packages.


Military Spouse Employment Partnership

The Military Spouse Employment Partnership is an employment and career partnership, connecting military spouses with hundreds of partner employers who have committed to recruit, hire, promote and retain military spouses in portable careers. The partnership has three components.

  • MSEP Job Search on MySECO allows military spouses to search for and apply to career opportunities with MSEP companies and organizations. Spouses can search for positions using job titles, keywords and location or refine the search by selecting the partner or job type.
  • Spouse Ambassador Network includes MSEP partners who work to create awareness about military spouse employment challenges and to increase military spouse career opportunities and advancement.
  • MSEP Partner Portal provides information for companies interested in becoming partners and offers resources for existing partners.

My Career Advancement Account

The My Career Advancement Account Scholarship is a workforce development program that provides eligible military spouses with up to $4,000 in financial assistance for licenses, certifications or associate degrees to pursue an occupation or career field.


myseco website on computerThe MySECO website is a one-stop online career and education toolbox filled with valuable information, resources interactive features. 
Check them out below.


For essential information and up-to-date fact sheets, fliers, info sheets, and more, visit the Information Hub.

MySECO is now available to support organizations and service providers. Check out the Easy Access for Those Who Support page for a detailed description of all that’s available on MySECO.

Celebrating Axing the Widow’s Tax (Feb 7, 2020) – Congresswoman Nancy Polosi (Speaker of the House), Kathy Prout, and Surviving Spouses.

Surviving Spouse Report Jan. 18, 2020 Kathy Prout

Surviving Spouse Liaison for CAL-MOAA
Silver Strand Chapter of MOAA Surviving Spouse Liaison

SBP-DIC Offset Repeal

On Dec 19, 2019, President Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act into law. Included was the repeal of the SBP-DIC Offset. The bills were HR 553 sponsored by Rep. Joe Wilson, SC and Rep John Yarmuth, KY with 373 cosponsors and S.622 sponsored by Sen Doug Jones, AL and Sen Susan Collings, ME with 77 cosponsors. These bills had the most cosponsors of any bill in Congress. Senator Jones offered a Motion to Instruct in the Senate which asked the Conferees to include his bill in the NDAA20. This passed with 94 yes votes out of 100. The 6 absentees were cosponsors of the bill so it would have been unanimous. This was passed with bipartisan support.

The Widow’s Tax has been axed after almost 20 years of legislation thanks to grass roots advocacy on the part of many military surviving spouses. Kathy Prout and Edith Smith of Virginia were the leaders of the surviving spouses. Several VSO’s were significantly helpful to include MOAA, TAPS, VFW and NMFA. WUSA9 in Washington DC also raised awareness with their series of television stories.

To simplify what will happen and what impacted surviving spouses should do:
Year 2020:
Nothing changes. The COLA is 1.6% for SBP, DIC, SSIA and Social Security as well as military retired pay and disability compensation.

DFAS needs to figure out what is owed to over 65,000 surviving spouses. When DFAS has it figured out, and provides instructions, we will let you know what to do. Most will probably happen automatically. In the meantime, do nothing.

DFAS pays SBP. It is different for everyone. The VA pays DIC. SSIA is a partial SBP payment. Since nothing happens until 2021, nothing is urgent.

In 2021 the phase in starts. All offsets to military retirement compensation have been eliminated with a 3 year phase in. When the SBP owed is reached, the offset is eliminated, whether it is in 2021, 2022 or 2033. SSIA will start to phase out as the offset is eliminated for some surviving spouses whose spouses purchased a low amount of SBP.

Feb of 2021, 1/3 of owed SBP plus SSIA ($323 in 2020) plus DIC (paid by VA).

Feb 2022
2/3 of owed SBP plus SSIA up to the amount owed plus DIC

Feb 2023
3/3 of owed SBP plus DIC. SSIA stops (it is a partial SBP payment). Nobody will receive more SBP than the amount earned or purchased.

Child option surviving spouses:

Those surviving spouses who transferred SBP to their child will get child SBP switched back to their name. They will receive what their child already receives but back in their own name. It remains the surviving spouse’s lifelong survivor benefit. Child option surviving spouses whose kids have already aged out post 9/11 are also included starting in 2023. Otherwise SBP ended or would end when the child aged out and the parent was left with only DIC.

SBP is taxable income and will continue to be taxable income. DIC is not taxed.

Do make sure your information is accurate in DEERS and you may set up a MyPay account with DFAS or if you have one, make sure your information is accurate. Child Option Surviving Spouses can wait until 2022 or until DFAS issues instructions.

Celebration Event:

There is going to be a celebration on February 5th in Washington, DC. Congress will be invited as well as the members of my Facebook groups, Military Widows: SBP-DIC Offset, Surviving Spouses of MOAA Facebook group, and others who helped get this bill passed into law. It will be sponsored by MOAA, TAPS, NMFA, GSW and VFW.

Kiddie Tax Legislation Fix

The Gold Star children who were subject to a large income tax rate of 37% on Survivor Benefits will see tax relief in 2020. Congress changed the tax code so that these children will now pay at the parent’s income tax rate for tax year 2019 and may amend their 2018 taxes to get a refund on the taxes that were overpaid. The law also impacts survivor annuities for other surviving children as well.

New Goals for The Military Coalition for Survivors include:
1. Eliminating the “holding oneself out to be married” clause for DIC. 2. Increasing DIC to equal 55% of disability compensation.

FACT-SHEET-ON-SURVIVOR-BENEFIT-PLAN

Surviving Spouse Report Jan. 15, 2020

Kathy Prout, Surviving Spouse Liaison for CAL-MOAA and Survivor Advocate

SBP-DIC Offset Repeal

On Dec 19, 2019, President Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act into law. Included was the repeal of the SBP-DIC Offset. The bills were HR 553 sponsored by Rep. Joe Wilson, SC and Rep John Yarmuth, KY with 373 cosponsors and S.622 sponsored by Sen Doug Jones, AL and Sen Susan Collings, ME with 77 cosponsors. These bills had the most cosponsors of any bill in Congress. Senator Jones offered a Motion to Instruct in the Senate which asked the Conferees to include his bill in the NDAA20. This passed with 94 yes votes out of 100. The 6 absentees were cosponsors of the bill so it would have been unanimous.

The Widow’s Tax has been axed after almost 20 years of legislation thanks to grass roots advocacy on the part of many military surviving spouses. Kathy Prout and Edith Smith of Virginia were the leaders of the surviving spouses. Several VSO’s were significantly helpful to include MOAA, TAPS, VFW and NMFA.

To simplify what will happen and what to do:


Year 2020: 
Nothing changes! The COLA is 1.6% for SBP, DIC, SSIA and Social Security as well as military retired pay and disability compensation. 

DFAS needs to figure out what is owed to over 65,000 surviving spouses. When DFAS has it figured out, and provides instructions, we will let you know what to do. Most will probably happen automatically. In the meantime, do nothing. 

DFAS pays SBP. SBP is what you are not receiving. It is different for everyone. The VA pays DIC. SSIA is a partial SBP payment. Since nothing happens until 2021, nothing is urgent. We will let you know what to do when we hear. In the meantime, know you offset surviving spouses will receive more than you get now.

2021: Phase in starts. All offsets to military retirement compensation have been eliminated with a 3 year phase in. When the SBP you are owed is reached, your offset is eliminated, whether it is in 2021, 2022 or 2033. SSIA will start to phase out in 2022 for some surviving spouses. 

Feb of 2021 you will receive 1/3 of OWED SBP plus SSIA ($323 in 2020) plus DIC (paid by VA). 

Feb 2022
2/3 of owed SBP plus SSIA up to the amount owed plus DIC

Feb 2023
3/3 of owed SBP plus DIC. SSIA stops (it is a partial SBP payment). Nobody will receive more SBP than the amount earned or purchased. 

Child option surviving spouses 
who transferred SBP to their child get child SBP switched back to their name. They will receive what their child already receives but back in their own name. It remains the surviving spouse’s lifelong survivor benefit. Child option surviving spouses whose kids have already aged out post 9/11 are also included starting in 2023. Otherwise SBP ended or would end when the child aged out and the parent was left with only DIC. 

SBP is taxable income and will continue to be taxable income.  DIC is not taxed.

Do nothing now.  Wait for DFAS to issue instructions. DFAS will not know how much SBP you will receive if you call. 

Do make sure your address is updated in DEERS and you may set up a MyPay account with DFAS or if you have one, make sure your information is accurate.  

There is going to be a celebration in February in Washington, DC. Congress will be invited as well as the members of my Facebook group, Military Widows: SBP-DIC Offset and others who helped get this bill passed into law. It will be sponsored by MOAA, TAPS, NMFA and VFW. 

Kiddie Tax Legislation Fix

The Gold Star children who were subject to a large income tax rate of 37% on Survivor Benefits will see tax relief in 2020. Congress changed the tax code so that these children will now pay at the parent’s income tax rate in 2020 and may amend their 2019 taxes to get a refund on the taxes that were overpaid. The law also impacts survivor annuities for other surviving children as well. 

New Goals for The Military Coalition for Survivors include:

1. Eliminating the “holding oneself out to be married” clause for DIC.

2. Increasing DIC to equal 55% of disability compensation. 

.

Submitting an article by Dan Merry, written December 11, 2019 in the National MOAA Newsletter, Surviving Spouse Corner Section. (Edited for inclusion).

5 Things You Need to Know about the “Widows Tax” Repeal included in the NDAA.
The finish line in the fight to repeal the “widows tax” is within sight and while there are still critical hurdles to

clear, the final product of this extensive effort on behalf of military survivors is taking shape.

Concerning the FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to end the Survivor Benefit Plan- Dependency and Indemnity Compensation offset, visit MOAA.org or follow MOAA’s social media platforms for updates. 

1. The logistics. The phased-in approach to repeal is really a 3-year rollout with a delayed startNo changes will be made to the benefit in calendar year 2020, but the offset will be reduced partially over 2021 and 2022, with full elimination starting on Jan. 1, 2023.
2. The limitations. The benefit will not be extended retroactively. The bill states specifically that “no benefits may be paid to any person for any period before the effective date provided…by reasons made of the amendments made” by the NDAA.

3. The “pay for.” We confirmed with staff leadership on House Armed Services Committee that “no benefits have been or will be reduced to pay for this repeal.
4. The fine print. The NDAA section addressing the repeal 
also removes the option for an eligible surviving military spouse to establish an annuity in the name of a dependent child instead of their own. This change would take effect Jan. 1, 2023. Spouses who’ve elected to transfer their annuity payment to a child (or children) will have their eligibility for the benefit restored on Dec. 31, 2022, “whether or not payment to such child subsequently was terminated due to loss of dependent status or death,” per the legislation. Previously, survivors were coerced to transfer their survivor benefits to their children in order to receive both benefits. Those benefits expired whenever dependent reached the age of majority. But a change in 2017 tax bill dramatically increased the rate those benefits were taxedBy repealing the child option, survivors both avoid what’s been termed the “kiddie tax” and receive the full benefits they deserve. However, the current dilemma of this egregious tax remains a challenge, and MOAA is actively pursuing a resolution.

5. What’s next. MOAA stands ready to ensure the government rights this wrong. As full details of the repeal take shape, our legislative and benefits experts will continue to ensure all who’ve waited far too long to receive this benefit will get what’s been promised. MOAA members with concerns about the legislation or further questions on the repeal process can email legis@moaa.org.