This week, Senators Reverend Warnock (D-GA) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) introduced the bipartisan Love Lives On Act—comprehensive legislation that will allow spouses of deceased servicemembers to retain survivor benefits upon remarriage
Currently, a surviving spouse could lose survivor benefits if they remarry under the age of 55; the Love Lives On Act would ensure survivors retain their benefits if they remarry at any age
The bill was considered at yesterday’s Veterans Affairs committee, a strong sign of momentum towards getting this legislation a floor vote
Senator Reverend Warnock: “If one of our heroes loses their life in the line of duty, we should honor our servicemember’s sacrifice by ensuring their spouse can retain survivor benefits if they choose to remarry.”
Senator Moran: “As Gold Star spouses heal from their loss and choose to remarry, they should not have to worry about losing their survivors’ benefits provided by the VA and DoD.”
Washington, D.C. – This week, U.S. Senators Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) introduced the bipartisan Love Lives On Act, comprehensive legislation that will allow spouses of deceased servicemembers to retain survivor benefits upon remarriage. Currently, a surviving spouse could lose survivor benefits if they remarry under the age of 55. The legislation was considered during yesterday’s Veterans’ Affairs committee hearing, a strong sign of momentum towards the legislation receiving a floor vote. The Love Lives On Act would ensure the retention of many benefits from both the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense upon remarriage at any age. The bill includes surviving spouses of servicemembers who otherwise qualify for benefits had they not remarried.
“The men and women in our military serve our country courageously—and their spouses serve our country, too,” said Senator Reverend Warnock. “If one of our heroes loses their life in the line of duty, we should honor our servicemember’s sacrifice by ensuring their spouse can retain survivor benefits if they choose to remarry. I’m proud to continue leading this bipartisan effort to fulfill our promise to these patriotic military families.”
“Military service is family service, and our country owes a great debt to the surviving spouses of fallen servicemembers,” said Senator Moran. “As Gold Star spouses heal from their loss and choose to remarry, they should not have to worry about losing their survivors’ benefits provided by the VA and DoD.”
“TAPS is grateful to Senators Moran, Warnock, Cotton, Hirono, and Warren for their leadership in introducing the first comprehensive remarriage bill, the Love Lives On Act of 2023,” said Bonnie Carroll, President and Founder, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. “This important legislation will ensure surviving military spouses retain their benefits upon remarriage at any age. Being widowed should not penalize them from finding love in the future.”
This legislation is supported by 41 Veterans Service Organizations and others, including the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Elizabeth Dole Foundation, Gold Star Wives of America, Inc., Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), The American Legion and Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS).
The Love Lives On Act will:
- Allow surviving spouses to retain Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) and Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) upon remarriage at any age.
- Allow surviving spouses to maintain eligibility for education benefits under the Fry Scholarship (Chapter 33) and Dependents Education Assistance (Chapter 35) upon remarriage, and if that marriage subsequently ends in death, divorce or annulment.
- Allow remarried surviving spouses access to Commissary and Exchange benefits.
- Allow remarried surviving spouses to regain their TRICARE benefits if that marriage subsequently ends due to death, divorce or annulment.
- Allow access to electronic medical records, appointments, referrals, and prescription refills for remarried spouses with dependent children, and ensure that remarried surviving spouses are treated as the parents to minor children not just the fiduciary.
- Honor all surviving spouses by removing archaic and punitive language regarding ‘holding oneself out to be married’; and more.
A stalwart champion for Georgia’s veterans, military families and servicemembers, Senator Warnock has been active in Washington working to strengthen federal support for Georgia’s veterans. Senator Warnock successfully worked to pass legislation he introduced that will study disparities in access to VA benefits, as well as the PACT Act, legislation he supported that provides for the largest expansion of veterans’ health benefits in decades. In addition, Senator Warnock has introduced legislation to upgrade standards of care in veterans’ homes, and more recently, he has introduced legislation to bolster affordable military housing for servicemembers and their families. Lastly, Senator Warnock has continued to conduct oversight of the VA, including demanding action from the VA to address a mail pile-up at the Atlanta VA that persisted for over a year, and leading a group of lawmakers in urging the Department of Defense (DoD) to conduct continued oversight of privatized housing companies.
Full bill text of Senator Warnock’s Love Lives On Act can be found here.