WASHINGTON – Today, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs held a markup on the bipartisan Caring for Survivors Act of 2023. The legislation passed out of Subcommittee by voice vote. This legislation is led by Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (CT-05) and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) in the House, and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester (D-Mont) and Senator John Boozman (R-Ark) in the Senate. The Caring for Survivors Act would bring survivor benefits in line with other federal benefits and ensure surviving families get the benefits their loved ones earned.

“I am committed to honoring our service members, veterans, and the survivors they have left behind,” said Congresswoman Hayes. “The outdated policies surrounding Dependency and Indemnity Compensation have created unbearable stress for surviving families. The Caring for Survivors Act increases those benefits, reduces barriers to access, and lessens the financial burden placed on veterans, service members, and their families. I am pleased this bill passed out of the Subcommittee today and look forward to action by the full committee. A full committee markup on this bill will allow it to be brought to the House floor for a vote. This issue is too important and we must pursue every opportunity to make this necessary change.” 

On April 10, 2024, Congresswoman Hayes testified before the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs highlighting how the Caring for Survivors Act aims to correct administrative barriers that block surviving families from the benefits their loved one earned.

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) is a tax-free monthly benefit paid to eligible survivors of military Servicemembers who died in the line of duty or eligible survivors of Veterans whose death resulted from a service-related injury or disease. To qualify for this benefit, the claimant(s) must be the eligible surviving family member (spouse, child, parent) of a military Servicemember or Veteran who:     

  1. died while serving on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training, OR
  2. died as a result of a service-connected injury or disease, OR
  3. died as a result of a non-service-connected injury or disease, and who was totally disabled from his/her service-connected disabilities for
    1. o at least 10 years immediately preceding death, OR
    2. o since the Veteran's release from active duty and for at least five years immediately preceding death, OR
    3. o at least one year immediately preceding death if the Veteran was a former prisoner of war.

DIC benefits rates were set in 1993 and have been minimally adjusted since then. The DIC also has rules that can drastically decrease the benefits to survivors if they remarry or if the period of disability before death was less than 10 years. Other federal survivor programs do not have such stringent rules for decreasing or withholding survivor benefits.

This bill matches DIC benefits to benefits in other federal survivor programs:

  1. Increasing the DIC for survivors from 43% ($1,562.74) to 55% ($1,992.07) of a single 100% disabled veteran’s compensation. All military survivors currently receiving DIC will realize an approximate increase of $430/month. 
  2. Reducing the 10-year rule to 5 years, greatly assisting families who have had their lives put on hold by caring for a disabled family member. 

The Caring for Survivors Act has the support of the following organizations: Tragedy Assistance for Survivors (TAPS), Gold Star Wives (GSW), Military Officers Association (MOAA), Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Disabled American Veterans (DAV), National Military Family Association (NMFA).