The Department of Defense announced that the maximum amount payable under the Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance (SSIA) program will increase on Jan. 1, 2019.
Beginning in 2019, survivors who are eligible for the SSIA will see the maximum benefit increase to $318. The maximum amount increased by 2.8 percent, the same amount of the Cost-of-Living adjustment that military retirees, Survivor Benefit Plan beneficiaries, those who receive disability or other benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs, federal retirees, and social security recipients will see.
This increase was mandated by the 2018 military budget, and will be automatic every year. Previously, congress had to reauthorize SSIA and set a maximum amount annually.
What Is SSIA?
The Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance (SSIA) is for surviving spouses who receive the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) and have their payments offset set by a Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) payment. SBP is an annuity that a military retiree can purchase through retired pay offset, this annuity pays a set amount to their survivor when the veteran dies. DIC is a type of VA disability pay that is paid to a surviving spouse of a disabled veteran with certain levels of disability.
The law on double-dipping says you can’t get both benefits at once, however due to some dedicated lobbying, the SSIA was created in 2008, however it was on a temporary basis. The SSIA partially reimburses the amount of SBP that is withheld. The 2018 defense budget made the SSIA permanent and included automatic increases to the maximum amount.