WASHINGTON — Rep. Richard Hudson is one of at least three members of Congress who think military widows should retain survivor benefits if they get remarried.
Hudson, along with Reps. Dean Phillips and Gwen Moore — Democrats from Minnesota and Wisconsin, respectively — on Thursday introduced the “Love Lives On Act.”
According to a press release from Hudson’s office, surviving spouses of deceased servicemembers risk losing benefits if they remarry before the age of 55.
The term surviving spouse is defined in the legislation as: “a person who was the spouse of a veteran at the time of the veteran’s death, and who lived with the veteran continuously from the date of marriage to the date of the veteran’s death (except where there was a separation which was due to the misconduct of, or procured by, the veteran without the fault of the spouse) and who has not remarried.”
Under the bill, marrying someone else would not disqualify surviving spouses of active-duty or retired military personnel and veterans from keeping:
- the Survivor Benefit Plan, which pays up to 55% of a servicemember’s retirement salary
- The monthly, tax-free Dependency and Indemnity Compensation
Surviving spouses also would still be allowed to use commissary stores and have access to MWR retail facilities if they marry someone else.
The press release also includes the following provision of the bill:
- Allow remarried surviving spouses with children access to electronic medical records, appointments, referrals, and prescription refills. The remarried surviving spouse would also be treated as a parent.
- Allow the surviving spouse to keep eligibility for education benefits under the Fry Scholarship and Dependents Education Assistance. The spouse would keep these benefits if their next marriage ended in death, divorce or annulment.
- Surviving spouses would also be able to regain TRICARE benefits if their new marriage ends in death, divorce or annulment.
“As Fort Bragg’s Congressman, I believe our country owes a tremendous debt to the surviving spouses of fallen servicemembers,” Hudson said in the release. “It takes great courage to pick up the pieces and move on. Therefore, we must ensure that surviving spouses can continue to move forward, free from the fear of losing the benefits owed to them through their late spouse’s military sacrifice.”
The Senate version of the bill was introduced Sept. 13, read twice and referred to the Veterans Affairs Committee
“It’s vital that our country takes care of all surviving spouses of military service members, which is why I am so pleased to join my colleagues in this bipartisan effort,” said Rep. Moore. “Our bill, the Love Lives On Act, will make important changes to current policies for surviving spouses, ensuring more can access crucial benefits.”
Hudson was recently reelected to the 9th District seat, which includes eastern Richmond County.