- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

I have just discovered your column and think you may be able to answer my question quickly versus hours on the phone searching for a clear answer regarding survivors (spouse) benefits. My husband retired after 22 years of active service. At the time of retirement he elected to participate in the survivors benefit program and has paid the monthly premiums continuously since retirement in 1989. Twelve years into his retirement he was granted a 40 percent service connected disability … a portion of his retirement pay is now called disability pay, apparently he did not quality for additional monies, just a “renaming” of his retired pay.

If he should die what effect does all of this have on my survivor benefits? It appears that what he gets is a tax break on a portion of his retired pay, but will all of this come back to bite us/me later? I don’t know what to expect, but need to plan for the future.

Mary K.
Via the Internet

Dear Mary:

As I understand it If the service member dies before his wife, her survivor benefit annuity is calculated on what his full retired pay would have been before any offset for VA disability compensation was taken.

Dear Sgt Shaft:

The identification tag, affectionately known as the dog tag, might seem like a meaningless piece of metal if it were not for the importance placed on it by many servicemen and women, and their families. It has become a piece of their loved one that they can hold in their hand.

Having spent years on the research of identification tags, or dog tags as it is commonly known in America, the book “Dog Tags: The History, Personal Stories, Cultural Impact, and Future of Military Identification” discusses each of these topics — and has not been addressed as thoroughly before now.

I hope you will consider sharing its release — it is a topic both current and poignant.

A YouTube video about the book is at the following address: http://youtu.be/ZdcvbzPgm9s

Thank you and remember those who have served!

Ginger Cucolo
233 Second Ave. SW
Ft. McNair, D.C. 20024

Dear Ginger:

Dog tags have been so meaningful in identifying the remains of our fallen comrades.

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