Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Act Approved
By PVA National Staff
After months of haggling, House and Senate negotiators finally reached agreement on a single defense policy bill for Fiscal Year 2020 that both chambers could agree upon. The annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) tends to focus on active duty matters but often contains some items of interest to PVA members. The legislation has passed the House and Senate. President Trump has stated that he will sign it.
Under current law, survivors of deceased military members must forfeit part or all of their purchased Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) annuity when awarded VA’s Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC). The loss of any portion of the SBP annuity is known as the “Widows Tax.” The NDAA repeals the Widows Tax through a phased approach. No changes will be made in 2020, but the offset will be partially reduced in calendar years 2021 and 2022 with the remainder of it eliminated on January 1, 2023. Unfortunately, the language of the bill does not allow reimbursement of lost compensation, but in three years the unfair offset will finally be eliminated.
Other language in the bill authorizes the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of VA, and the Secretary of Labor to work collaboratively on a three-year pilot program to develop an online application (app) that would address the current shortfalls in the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) and streamline online resources that will be available upon separation. PVA helped draft this provision that creates a “one-stop” source for online applications to assist service members and veterans while simultaneously ensuring that the valuable information provided by TAP is always current and easily available to veterans.
Termination of Leases
Another provision PVA helped develop in the bill allows the spouse of a service member who suffered a catastrophic illness or injury to terminate residential or vehicle leases. In this case, the spouse would have a one-year period from the date of the service member’s illness or injury in which to terminate the lease.
Last but not least, members who are eligible for and use their TRICARE benefit will be pleased to know that the bill does not increase fees or pharmacy copays beyond those already scheduled for January 1, 2020.
For More information go to TRICARE.