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Nearly eight years after her husband’s death left her to raise their newborn son alone, Gold Star wife Brittany Jacobs is trying to ensure that families like hers receive their full survivor benefits from the U.S. government.
Like many widows, Jacobs was rushed through a scourge of paperwork, in part so that she could start receiving the benefits offered to the surviving family members of service members.
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At the time, Jacobs was instructed to select the “child only” option so that she could avoid something called the “Widow’s Tax.”
The “Widow’s Tax” refers to the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) and Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) offset.
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The SBP is a Department of Defense (DOD) insurance plan that pays survivors a monthly income in the event of a service member’s early death, while the DIC is a Veterans Affairs (VA) program that gives a tax-free benefit to survivors. Service members opt into the SBP by paying premiums to enroll in the insurance program.
Survivors, however, are not allowed to “double dip” by receiving benefits across government agencies. For each $1 a survivor receives in DIC, they lose $1 from their SBP.
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“SBP is an insurance annuity earned by years of service and/or paid for as income protection for surviving family members. It is not standard practice for insurance programs to deny payment because a beneficiary receives income from another source,” Jacobs wrote in an email to The Daily Caller.
Approximately 65,000 military widows are affected by the SBP/DIC offset.
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In order to avoid the Widow’s Tax, some surviving wives opt to sign their SBP benefits away to their children. However, many do not realize that by doing so, they forfeit the benefit once their child turns 18, or 22 if they are a full-time student.
“Some people sign these papers days after their husband dies,” Jacobs told the Caller. “I...
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