WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) a Senior Member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, voted tonight in favor an amendment (#4979) to the Defense Authorization bill (S. 3001 ) that will go a long way in support of our nation's veterans. Senator Inhofe co-sponsored Senator Bill Nelson's long overdue bi-partisan fix to the unfair Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) offset. The amendment passed by a vote of 94-2.
"I was proud to join my colleagues tonight in favor of an amendment to help our nation's veterans," Senator Inhofe said. "I am honored to be a co-sponsor of this amendment that clearly states that the surviving spouse and dependents of our veterans should receive the full value of SBP and Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) without any offset. I've worked since 2001 to fix problems associated with the Survivor Benefit Plan. The spouses and dependents who survive our warriors have earned every penny of both the annuity and entitlement. This year, after three previous years of Senate passage and conference defeat, we're going to do everything in our power to see that this language becomes law.
"We owe our lives and our freedom to the men and women in uniform, to those courageously fighting abroad and serving here at home, and all the veterans who have so honorably served before them. Just as they have selflessly done for us, we must be steadfast in our commitment to improving the quality of care and services to America's veterans and the families that support them.
"This amendment does more than increase benefits; it acknowledges the selfless sacrifice and constant devotion of the ones that wave goodbye as our heroes depart to defend this nation from tyranny and disaster from Afghanistan to the flooded streets of New Orleans."
Earlier today, Senator Inhofe spoke on the Senate Floor regarding his support for the amendment. Included below are Senator Inhofe Floor remarks:
Full Floor Remarks As Prepared for Delivery
I rise today to talk about Senator Bill Nelson's long overdue fix to the unfair Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) offset. I am honored to be a cosponsor of this amendment that clearly states that the surviving spouse and dependents of our veterans should receive the full value of SBP and Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) without any offset.
The two payments have distinct purposes. DIC, which is tax free, compensates for a service-connected death and the resulting economic loss. SBP is like life insurance... survivors are qualified for SBP only because their spouses bought it with monthly premiums. It is time we gave back these benefits to the families of those who have served bravely in the defense of our nation.It is an insult to their honor and to their memory to do anything less.
Many of us have fought for years to ensure that SBP pays survivors as it was intended. I, with 38 colleagues, cosponsored the SBP Benefits Improvement Act of 2001 which amended Federal provisions concerning the military Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) to adjust the basic annuity amount for surviving spouses of former military personnel and adjusted similarly the authorized percentage amounts of SBP supplemental annuity authorized for such spouses.
And again I cosponsored, with 45 colleagues, the Military Survivor Benefits Improvement Act of 2003 to increase the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) annuity amount for surviving spouses, of former military personnel and adjust similarly percentage amounts with respect to survivors of reserve personnel and survivors of persons who die while on active duty.
We have worked diligently to change the laws covering concurrent receipt and have been successful.
This legislation is the logical expansion of the same principal, acknowledging that the surviving spouses and dependents should not be left behind. Every year for the last three years we have voted to include this legislation in our version of the National Defense Authorization Act. In fiscal Years 2006, 2007, and 2008 we agreed to repeal this SBP/DIC offset and every year it has been dropped by the Conference Committee.
With this amendment we rectify a long-standing injustice to widows and dependents whose spouses or parent died of a military service related cause who are sacrificing a dollar of the DoD Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) for every dollar of the VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) they receive.
It is time we followed through on our commitments to our service members and the ones they have left behind."