Heading home to the 14th District nearly every weekend, I listen to my constituents as they tell me about the triumphs they have achieved and the problems they face. Listening to people is more than half of my job, as you cannot truly represent someone unless you listen to them – and no one deserves to be listened to more than our military retirees.

Recently, a constituent brought an issue to my attention after learning that as a military retiree, he has earned Survivor Benefits, benefits which typically could be transferred to his child. However, his son has special needs, and current law does not allow military retirees to designate Survivor Benefits to their special needs children through a “blind” special needs trust fund.

“Blind” special needs trust funds allow special needs kids to claim assistance from Medicaid, Medicare or Social Security, as well as their parent’s Survivor Benefits. Current law forces special needs children to choose between receiving Social Security or Survivor Benefits – a situation that often leads to a special needs child facing financial hardship.

Though non-military workers and civilian government employees are allowed to designate their pension and benefits to blind special needs trust funds, military retirees do not have the same ability.

Last week, I introduced H.R. 2059, a bill that will allow military retirees to designate Survivor Benefits to their special needs dependent through a blind special needs trust. My bill simply gives our military retirees the same legal tools that other government workers have to protect their special needs children.

My bill has been endorsed by the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), and it is my sincere hope that momentum for this bill will continue to build, and that this legislation will pass the House so that military retirees have the ability to better provide for their special needs children.