Armed Forces News

The House version of the fiscal 2005 defense authorization bill has included the House Armed Services Committee’s recommendations to phase out the “military widows’ tax” over a period of three and a half years. Currently, surviving military spouses (mostly widows) who receive 55 percent of their spouses’ designated retired pay under the Survivor Benefit Plan see their annuities drop to 35 percent when they reach age 62. Under the House plan, such SBP payments would be set at 40 percent Oct. 1, 2005; 45 percent April 1, 2006; 50 percent April 1, 2007; and 55 percent April 1, 2008. The Senate version currently contains no SBP fix, and the Senate will not vote on its bill until after it returns from the Memorial Day recess on June 1. At that time, Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., is expected to present a floor amendment similar to the House version.