Congressmen Gonzalez, Bacon, Kelly, Moulton, and Young Introduce Bipartisan Veterans FAIR Act of 2018
WASHINGTON – Congressman Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15) has introduced H.R. 6281, the Veterans Flexibility of Annuities for Income Relief (FAIR) Act of 2018, to modify the Survivor Benefit Plan to extend the one-year opt-out window to six years.
The bill has garnered the support of Republicans and Democrats. Four original co-sponsors include Congressmen Don Bacon (NE-02), Trent Kelly (MS-01), Seth Moulton (MA-06), and Don Young (AK-AL).
As it stands, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) requires retiring service members to opt into benefits packages. The Survivors Benefits Plan yields a one-year opt-out option for veterans – leaving little time for transition. After this brief opt-out period, former service members may be locked into burdensome financial obligations, including mandatory premium payments that can last an entire lifetime.
“In order to make informed financial decisions, it is critical that veterans be given adequate time to transition back to civilian life,” Congressman Gonzalez said. “The U.S. Department of Defense should support our nation’s veterans, not profit off of them in difficult times.”
“Financial stability and financial planning are critical to ensuring our service members successfully transition into civilian life,” said Alaska Congressman Don Young. “Far too often, the short opt-out period for the Survivors Benefits Plan creates an unnecessary hurdle for these men and women to overcome when making the already difficult long-term financial decisions. The transition from military to civilian life has enough challenges, which is why I’m proud to be a co-sponsor of this legislation. I believe this reform will help our service members better understand their options and allow them more time to make more informed decisions which have lifelong impacts.”
“The existing Survivors Benefits Plan one-year opt-out period is simply not flexible enough to accommodate the planning needs of a service member navigating the challenging transition into civilian life,” Congressman Kelly said. “They deserve additional time to plan major financial changes with their family members.”
“One of the challenges I faced when transitioning from the Marines back to civilian life was navigating the maze of bureaucratic options around benefits, VA care, and other things, so I’m happy to sponsor a bill that makes this process a little easier,” Congressman Moulton said. “These two commonsense adjustments to the Survivor Benefits Plan will provide vets time to opt out of benefits that no longer make sense to use. The DOD should be doing more to ensure veterans are well informed of all the costs, risks, and payouts when making important financial decisions.”
In addition to the increased opt-out period, this act intends to restructure and improve the termination of the Survivor Benefits Plan.
The Survivor Benefits Plan allows the client to name a sole beneficiary. Currently, the plan requires payments to be made until the death of the client or said beneficiary. Even if the beneficiary is diagnosed as terminally ill, the client will continue making payments up until the time of death. The Veterans FAIR Act seeks to immediately cease payments when a beneficiary receives such a diagnosis.
The Veterans FAIR Act of 2018 would:
- Stave off complex financial decisions until our nation’s heroes have had adequate time to reintegrate into society.
- Ensure those enrolling in the Survivor Benefits Plan are well informed of the costs, risks, and payouts.
- Restructure crude language to reduce the burden on our veterans in times of grief.
The congressman hopes that his legislation will modernize the Survivor Benefits Plan and allow it to truly benefit our veterans.