9th District Delegation Seeking Retroactive Payments for Surviving Spouses of Blind or Disabled Veterans

Mar 01, 2017

Members of the 9th District delegation are working to help surviving spouses of certain blind or disabled veterans receive due compensation regardless of their application date. Bill S-1542, sponsored by Sen. Christopher J. Connors, Assemblyman Brian E. Rumpf and Assemblywoman DiAnne C. Gove, was recently approved by the Senate Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee. If enacted into law, the $750 annual compensation for these spouses would include retroactive payments from April 9, 1985, if the veteran’s death happened prior to this date, or from the date of the veteran’s death if the death occurred after April 9, 1985.

According to the state Department of Military and Veterans’ Affairs, there are currently 84 widows obtaining the $750 annual payment. The bill would impact 17 of those widows who would be eligible to collect the retroactive lump sum.

“Presently, surviving spouses of blind or disabled veterans are eligible to receive the $750 annual compensation benefit from the date of their application under current regulations,” the legislators stated. “This lifetime benefit is statutorily available to a veteran who was blinded or severely disabled as a result of service during any war, including specifically World War II, Korean, or Vietnam. However, we’ve learned of hardship cases in which spouses didn’t become aware of the benefit until long after they became eligible. These individuals should be entitled to the monetary compensation dating back to when they became eligible due to the fact that it had already been determined that their spouse became blind or severely disabled as a result of wartime service.”

Both Rumpf and Gove are sponsors of the companion version, A-986, that is currently lodged in the Assembly Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

Members of the 9th District delegation serve on the Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committees of both houses. The legislators are also prime sponsors of the New Jersey Servicemember’s Civil Relief Act, which aims to update the benefits and protections allotted to military servicemembers and their dependents according to current federal law. —K.A.E.

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