Bush Signs Bill Protecting Survivor Benefits of Military Members

June 17, 2008 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Legislation to protect the survivor benefits of service members killed in action was signed into law by President Bush on Tuesday.

The Honoring Existing Retirement Obligations for Every Servicemember (HEROES) Act (See HEROES Act Headed to House for Consideration ) was introduced by Congressman Earl Pomeroy (D-North Dakota), and will fix an oversight in current law to ensure that the families of National Guard and Reserve soldiers killed in action receive the full survivor pension benefits to which they are entitled, according to a news release.

Under the Act, in order to comply with the requirements of the Uniform Services Employment and Reemployment Right Act (USERRA), an employer would be required to treat the day prior to the date of death as the date the employee returned to work for purpose of triggering payment of survivor benefits or other beneficiary payments under the employee’s pension plan. The provisions of the Act are effective for deaths occuring on or after January 1, 2007.

The legislation was included in a larger tax bill called the “Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax,” (HEART) Act, H.R. 6081. The HEART Act, which makes permanent essential tax relief for military families, passed the House unanimously on Tuesday.