Reps. Garamendi, Turner, Reintroduce Bill to Stop Department of Defense from Overdrafting Veterans’ Bank Accounts Following Death
Washington, DC—Today, Congressmen John Garamendi (D-CA) and Mike Turner (R-OH) reintroduced the bipartisan “Military Retiree Survivor Comfort Act” to protect military families from bank overdrafts following a veteran’s death.
Congressmen Garamendi (D-CA) is chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness, which oversees issues pertaining to the U.S. military and service members. Congressman Turner (R-OH) is a senior Republican member of the House Armed Services Committee.
“Military families suffering the loss of their loved one should not be penalized for an accounting oversight. The Department of Defense’s current practice of clawing back retirement benefits deposited in joint checking accounts when a veteran dies is both callous and needless,” said Congressman Garamendi (D-CA). “Our Military Retiree Survivor Comfort Act would finally fix this to ensure that our military families have one less worry following the loss of their loved one.”
“Under the Department of Defense’s current policy, the final month’s retirement benefit of a deceased veteran may be taken back if the family fails to immediately notify the DoD of their loved one’s passing. Military families in grieving should not be punished under heartless and unnecessary penalties,” said Congressman Turner (R-OH). “Congressman Garamendi and I introduced The Military Retiree Survivor Comfort Act to fix this misguided policy. Military families deserve our respect, and our bipartisan bill will help these families avoid undue hardship during what is already a difficult time.”
The “Military Retiree Survivor Comfort Act” would prohibit the Defense Finance and Accounting Services (DFAS) from clawing back the final retirement benefit paid to a veteran the month they pass away. Under the Department of Defense’s current policy, that final month’s retirement benefit may be clawed back on a prorated basis if the family fails to immediately notify the Department of Defense of the veteran’s death.
Those military families with joint bank accounts, in which retirement benefits are deposited electronically, are often unaware that the Department of Defense’s DFAS can claw back overpayments without the accountholder’s consent. This results in joint bank accounts being drained of funds and subject to overdraft fees and financial hardship, following a veteran’s death while the family is still in mourning.
The “Military Retiree Survivor Comfort Act” would end this deeply misguided practice for any retirement benefit received in the month for which a veteran was alive for at least 24 hours.
The text of the “Military Retiree Survivor Comfort Act” can be viewed here.