SGT. SHAFT: Surviving spouses of vets can remarry after 57 and continue benefits

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Dear Sgt. Shaft:

I want to marry a woman who is currently receiving a widow’s pension. At one point in time she had a document that said she could remarry at age 55, but lately we have been reading that the age is 57. As would be expected we cannot find that document now. Which is it? Was it originally 55 and later changed? If so, is there a grandfather clause? Please advise.

Sincerely,
Lawrence A.
USA Retired

Dear Lawrence:

The Veterans Benefits Improvement Act of 2003 allows for surviving spouses who remarry after the age of 57 to continue to receive Dependency and Indemnity Compensation. Remarriage after age 55 has never been an entitlement criteria.

Shaft notes

• The Sarge joins the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) in praising Congressman Cliff Stearns, Florida Republican, and Congressman Tim Bishop, New York Democrat, who recently introduced the Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act of 2011 (H.R. 3086). The bill would phase out Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which allows employers holding special wage certificates to pay their workers with disabilities less than the federal minimum wage.

Dr. Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “The Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act is a long-overdue effort to correct an injustice written into a law meant to protect all American workers from abuse and exploitation. Workers with disabilities were excluded from the protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act because of the false belief that we cannot be as productive as Americans without disabilities. Courage and creativity are required to replace the misguided benevolence that has historically shaped policies toward people with disabilities with real opportunity for our equal employment and full participation in the workplace. We applaud Representatives Stearns and Bishop and we hope that a significant majority of their colleagues possess the courage and creativity to end over 70 years of exploitation of people with disabilities.”

Mr. Steams agreed with Dr. Maurer.

“Simple fairness and decency require that workers with disabilities receive equal pay for equal work,” Mr. Stearns says. “I am asking all of my colleagues to join me in this historic effort to end wage discrimination against workers with disabilities once and for all.”

Mr. Bishop also agreed, saying: “Ensuring that Americans with disabilities receive equal pay for equal work is more than a matter of basic fairness, it’s a long-overdue acknowledgement of the value disabled Americans contribute to our workplaces every day. I hope all of my colleagues will support this bipartisan effort to correct over 70 years of injustice.”

For more information about the Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act and the National Federation of the Blind, please visit www.nfb.org.

• The House Committee on Veterans‘ Affairs recently announced two new members to its roster with the addition of Reps. Mark Amodei, Nevada Republican, and Bob Turner, New York Republican, both veterans of the U.S. Army.

“I am pleased that Rep. Amodei and Rep. Turner have joined the committee to represent America’s veterans,” said Rep. Jeff Miller, Florida Republican, chairman of the House Committee on Veterans‘ Affairs. “As veterans themselves, I know they will be advocates for the best care and programs and will provide the committee with valuable insight based on their experiences in uniform.”

Mr. Amodei was a prosecutor for the Judge Advocate General Corps in the Army, handling criminal matters from 1984-1987.

“As the father of a Gulf War veteran and someone who spent four years on active duty in the United States Army, I am thrilled to be given a chance to serve Nevada’s veterans on the House Committee on Veterans‘ Affairs,” he said.

Mr. Turner was a Specialist in the Army from 1962-1965. He was stationed at Fort Polk, La.

“As a veteran myself, I will respect our government’s sacred duty to treat all veterans of the United States Armed Forces with dignity and respect in light of their shared sacrifices in the name of our liberty and freedom,” Mr. Turner said. “I am honored to have been asked to serve on the House Committee on Veterans‘ Affairs and I look forward to working with Chairman Jeff Miller and my fellow committee members to ensure that these honorable individuals are protected.”

“With the addition of Reps. Amodei and Turner, the committee is full,” Mr. Miller said. “We are working on many important issues right now that will directly impact the lives of our veterans for the better, such as helping unemployed veterans find work and turning the corner on the disability claims backlog. Having Mark and Bob on our team adds to our chorus of voices to protect those who have served our great nation.”

The new members will join the next full committee hearing on Oct. 12.

• Kudos to Applebee’s, who will again say thank you to our nation’s veterans and active duty military by inviting them to their neighborhood Applebee’s for a free meal on Veterans Day, Friday, Nov. 11.

Applebee’s initiated this program nationwide for the first time two years ago. As a result, the restaurant has provided more than a million free meals annually.

Proof of service includes the following: U.S. Uniform Services Identification Card, U.S. Uniform Services Retired Identification Card, Current Leave and Earnings Statement, Veterans Organization Card, photograph in uniform or wearing uniform, DD214, Citation or Commendation.

Send letters to Sgt. Shaft, c/o John Fales, P.O. Box 65900, Washington, D.C. 20035-5900; fax 301/622-3330, call 202/257-5446 or email sgtshaft@bavf.org.

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