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Phillips’s Love Live On Act would allow surviving spouses of military servicemembers to retain survivor benefits should they remarry

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) and Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC) introduced the Love Lives On Act, a bipartisan bill that will allow spouses of deceased military servicemembers to retain survivor benefits upon remarriage. The Senate companion for the Love Lives On Act is led by Sens. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and Jerry Moran (R-KS). 

Phillips lost his birth father, U.S. Army Capt. Artie Pfefer, in the Vietnam War.  

“As a Gold Star Son, my gratitude to our servicemembers and their families is immeasurable,” said Rep. Phillips. “Spouses of those who die in service to our nation make unimaginable sacrifices and deserve unending respect and support in return. The Love Lives On Act is part of my mission to ensure military families have access every single benefit they are owed. I’m grateful to colleagues on both sides of the aisle for backing it, but our work is not done. I will continue to push to eliminate remarriage benefit reductions for anyone who dies in service to their country, civilian or military.”  

"As Fort Bragg’s Congressman, I believe our country owes a tremendous debt to the surviving spouses of fallen servicemembers.  It takes great courage to pick up the pieces and move on. Therefore, we must ensure that surviving spouses can continue to move forward, free from the fear of losing the benefits owed to them through their late spouse’s military sacrifice," said Rep. Hudson.  

“TAPS is grateful to Representatives Phillips and Hudson for their leadership in reintroducing the first comprehensive remarriage bill, the Love Lives On Act of 2023. 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,” said Bonnie Carroll, President and Founder of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, a survivors advocacy organization that has endorsed the bill. 


Currently, surviving spouses of federal personnel, both civilian and military, are at risk of losing survivor benefits if they remarry under the age of 55. The Love Lives On Act would ensure military spouses are allowed to retain benefits upon remarriage no matter their age. The bill’s protections extend to surviving spouses of active-duty, veteran, and retired military personnel. 

While the Love Lives On Act does not eliminate the remarriage penalty for surviving spouses of civilian federal personnel, it establishes a precedent and road map for doing so for the entire federal workforce in the future. 

Key Provisions of the Love Lives On Act: 

  • Allows surviving spouses of military personnel to retain the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) and Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) if they remarry, regardless of age. The Survivor Benefit Plan provides up to 55% of a servicemember’s retirement pay to an eligible beneficiary after the servicemember dies. The Dependency and Indemnity Compensation is a tax-free monthly benefit to survivors.
  • Grants surviving military spouses who remarry access to Commissary and Exchange benefits.
  • Provides remarried surviving military spouses with children access to electronic medical records, appointments, referrals, and prescription refills. The remarried surviving spouse would also be treated as a parent.
  • Allows the surviving military spouse to keep eligibility for education benefits under the Fry Scholarship and Dependents Education Assistance. The spouse would keep these benefits if their next marriage ended in death, divorce or annulment.
  • Surviving military spouses would also be able to regain TRICARE benefits if their new marriage ends in death, divorce or annulment.