IRS to begin mailing stimulus notices

The Associated Press WASHINGTON — Don’t be alarmed. More than 130 million households will get letters from the Internal Revenue Service beginning next week and the news is good. The letters are part of an effort to ensure people do not miss out if they are eligible for a tax rebate check under the recently […]

Social Security workers brace for boomers

CNJ staff Social Security offices nationwide are bracing for the first round of baby boomers to hit retirement age. Local Social Security officials are urging individuals to utilize the Internet to file their application. “Staffing levels are at an all-time low,” Social Security District Manager Tony Romero said. “So, we are really pushing the E-Services […]

Personally paying for health costs would be best fix

By Freedom New Mexico America is rushing to a pivotal decision that could dictate the nature of health care for decades to come. Escalating costs, rising consumer demand, coupled with employers reducing benefits are creating widespread unease. These and related converging factors guarantee change is coming. The question is whether Americans will succumb to the […]

Fire chief promotes new pay plan for staff

By Jean Verlich: CNJ News Editor Clovis Fire Chief Ray Westerman introduced his plan to retain experienced firefighters in a study session following Thursday’s City Commission meeting. Westerman said the $272,000 plan that calls for revamping the pay and benefits scale for 74 of the department’s 78 positions doesn’t require additional funding. “I achieved that […]

April 24, 2007 Business Digest

Tornado assistance offered through DUA Federal assistance, including special Disaster Unemployment Benefits (DUA), is available to workers and self-employed individuals who became unemployed as a direct result of March’s tornado, according to a New Mexico Labor Department news release. Applications must be made by May 7. Claims may be filed by calling the state Labor […]

Reservists shorted by deficient GI Bill

By Tom Philpott: Military Update Proponents for strengthening Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) benefits for the National Guard and Reserve say the critical issue is fairness. Reserve rates, frozen for years, need to be raised. Reserve benefits need to be made as portable as MGIB for active forces, their wartime deployment partners. Not so, said a […]

Raises, benefits top committee agenda

By Tom Philpott: Military Update Billions of dollars in pay and benefits are at stake for active duty members, reservists, disabled retirees and surviving spouses as a House-Senate conference committee begins to negotiate differences in separate versions of the 2007 defense authorization bill. When the process ends, perhaps by late September, military personnel will know […]

Lawmakers should listen to soldiers

Tom Philpott: military columnist The Bush administration continues to sound an alarm over rising military personnel costs from steady gains in pay and benefits voted by the Congress, including more new initiatives in the 2007 defense budget bill. But Congress shows no sign of heeding the alarm, not while U.S. forces “stay the course” in […]

Salary/benefits spike put leaders out of touch

Freedom Newspapers An alarming study by the libertarian Cato Institute suggests that a new class is being created in America — a government working elite with special privileges, quickly outpacing the private sector in the salaries and benefits it receives. The study found that average federal government workers’ total compensation — salary and benefits — […]

Unions bringing on pension crisis with demands

Freedom Newspapers When it comes to the mounting nationwide pension crisis, it’s best to follow the advice, “At first, do no harm.” Nationwide, unfunded public and private pension liabilities are at an unfathomable $800 billion. That’s the amount of benefits owed, beyond the funds available to pay them. USA Today reported last month that “taxpayers […]

Disabled veterans program mismanaged

By Tom Philpott: Military Update The Department of Veterans Affairs mismanages its program for rating disabled veterans as “unemployable,” according to a new report by congressional auditors. Because of weak oversight of Individual Unemployability (IU) benefits, some veterans get more compensation than warranted, and the VA is ineffective in moving seriously disabled veterans toward productive […]

Benefit program deadline approaching

By Pete Domenici: Guest columnist The May 15 deadline for signing up for Medicare prescription drug benefits is quickly approaching and there are still thousands of New Mexicans, particularly low-income residents, who have not signed up. Because we built in extra compensations to help poor seniors, I strongly encourage them to act now to sign […]

GI Bill holds inequities for Reserve, Guard

By Tom Philpott: Military Update Reserve and National Guard members mobilized for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are discovering an inequity in their GI Bill education benefits that needs to be fixed, says Arkansas Rep. Vic Snyder, senior Democrat on the House armed services’ subcommittee on military personnel. “It’s unconscionable how these young men and […]

Chairman eyes steps to ‘modernize’ GI Bill

By Tom Philpott: Military Update Rep. Steve Buyer, R-Ind., chairman of House Veterans Affairs Committee, wants active duty veterans to have more “flexibility” to use Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) benefits. He also will consider making Reserve MGIB benefits “portable” so they can be used after reservists leave service. But Buyer hasn’t endorsed that second change, […]

Privatizing pension agency would benefit taxpayers

Freedom Newspapers The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. took another step down the slippery slope last week, according to an Associated Press story. The federal agency announced it has assumed the pension assets and claims of Falcon Products Inc., a manufacturer of commercial furniture. The two plans taken over by the agency cover about 2,300 current […]

Job security, welfare benefits not enough

Mona Charen: Syndicated Columnist Through a combination of socialism at home and appeasement abroad, the French believed they had found a viable alternative to, in former Prime Minister Lionel Jospin’s phrase, “jungle capitalism,” as practiced by you know who. Jacques Chirac was more direct, condemning “ultra liberal Anglo-Saxon” economic policies, while also famously boasting that […]

Military health spending to be slowed

Tom Philpott: Military Update Congress will worsen a near crisis of runaway military health care costs if it enacts a Senate-backed provision to open the new TRICARE Reserve Select program to all drilling Reserve and National Guard members, the Defense Department’s top health official has warned. In testimony before a House subcommittee, Dr. William Winkenwerder […]

Genetics won’t touch disability benefits

By Tom Philpott The Veterans’ Disability Benefits Commission unanimously has voted that a veteran’s genetic makeup, which might show predisposition to certain illnesses before entering service, is not a reasonable topic for the commission to study in its review of “service connection” and disability payments. During an Oct. 14 public hearing in Washington, D.C., the […]

Retirees getting second chance at program

By Tom Philpott: Military Update More than 800,000 military retirees who declined the Survivor Benefit Plan at retirement will get another chance to buy into a much-improved program, starting this fall. But delayed enrollment won’t be cheap, particularly for retirees who left service during the last six years. Congress voted last year not only to […]

Service members should be better informed

By Tom Philpott: Military Update Editor’s note: Military Update will move to Tuesdays beginning next week. Many service members are not well informed about their hodgepodge of pays, allowances, benefits and tax breaks and therefore don’t recognize and appreciate the real worth of their compensation packages. The observation is made in a Government Accountability Office […]