WASHINGTON — Rep. Richard Hudson is once again trying to make sure military spouses can keep their survivor benefits even if they get remarried.
Hudson, who represents part of Richmond County as well as Fort Bragg, announced Friday — just ahead of Memorial Day — that he and Rep. Dean Phillips, a Minnesota Democrat, have reintroduced the Love Lives On Act.
(Note: Fort Bragg will be renamed Fort Liberty on June 2.)
Currently, surviving spouses of deceased servicemembers risk losing benefits if they remarry before the age of 55.
“I believe our country owes a tremendous debt to the surviving spouses of fallen servicemembers,”Hudson said in a statement. “It takes great courage and strength to pick up the pieces and move forward. We must support surviving spouses who choose to remarry and remove the fear of losing the benefits paid for by their late spouse’s sacrifice.”
Hudson and Phillips first introduced the House version of the bill last November. Congressional records show it was sent to the Armed Services Committee and no other action was taken.
“As a Gold Star Son, my gratitude to our servicemembers and their families is immeasurable,” Phillips said in a statement. “Spouses of those who die in service to our nation make unimaginable sacrifices and deserve unending respect and support in return.
“The Love Lives On Act is part of my mission to ensure military families have access to every single benefit they are owed,” Phillips added. “I’m grateful to colleagues on both sides of the aisle for backing it, but our work is not done. I will continue to push to eliminate remarriage benefit reductions for anyone who dies in service to their country, civilian or military.”
According to Hudson’s office, the bill’s protections would cover surviving spouses of active-duty, veteran, and retired military personnel.
- Allowing surviving spouses of military personnel to retain the Survivor Benefit Plan — which provides up to 55% of retirement pay to an eligible beneficiary — and Dependency and Indemnity Compensation — at tax-free monthly benefit — if they remarry, regardless of age.
- Granting surviving military spouses who remarry access to Commissary and Exchange benefits.
- Providing remarried surviving military spouses with children access to electronic medical records, appointments, referrals and prescription refills. The remarried surviving spouse would also be treated as a parent.
- Allowing the surviving military 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.
Another provision would have surviving spouses regain TRICARE benefits if their new marriage ends in death, divorce or annulment.
The legislation has been endorsed by the organization Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, or TAPS.
“TAPS is grateful to Representatives Phillips and Hudson for their leadership in reintroducing the first comprehensive remarriage bill, the Love Lives On Act of 2023,” said Bonnie Carroll, president and founder of the organization. “This important legislation will ensure surviving military spouses retain their benefits upon remarriage at any age. Being widowed should not penalize them from finding love in the future.”
A Senate version of the bill was also reintroduced last month by Sen. Jerry Moran, a Kansas Republican, with support from a fellow Republican and three Democrats.