Military disabled to get full benefits

By Tom Philpott Pentagon lawyers are studying the 2005 National Defense Authorization Act to determine if a provision to restore full military retirement to 100-percent disabled retirees next month can be interpreted to apply to 28,000 retirees who have lesser disabilities but are deemed unemployable. At stake for these retirees is, on average, more than […]

By Tom Phlipott Pentagon lawyers are studying the 2005 National Defense Authorization Act to determine if a provision to restore full military retirement to 100-percent disabled retirees next month can be interpreted to apply to 28,000 retirees who have lesser disabilities but are deemed unemployable. At stake for these retirees is, on average, more than […]

Recent benefits update was needed

by Tom Philpott Military survivor benefits for 270,000 elderly recipients, and the future value of the Survivor Benefit Plan for all beneficiaries, will begin to rise next October when the first of four special pay hikes takes effect. When the last one occurs, in April 2008, SBP annuities for older beneficiaries will have returned to […]

Pentagon considers SBP reform options

By om Philpott: Military Update As House-Senate conferees prepare to deliberate differences in their separate plans for phasing out a sharp drop in military survivor benefits that occurs at age 62, the Bush administration says it has some “better alternatives” to improving the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP). Rather than phase out the age-62 drop in […]

DOD: Survivor Benefit Plan is costly

By Philpott: Military Update Defense officials, in a late-hour attempt to persuade senators not to join the House in voting to raise military survivor benefits, said the case for doing so has been built on a series of “mistaken assertions.” They also cautioned senators about the cost of enhancing the Survivor Benefit Plan’s $5 billion […]

House bill bad news for military spouses

Tom Philpott: Military Update The Department of Defense says it does not support imposing new limits on the number of years that former spouses can receive court-awarded shares of military retirement. Such limits are at the heart of the Uniformed Services Divorce Equity bill (HR 1111), introduced by Rep. Cass Ballenger, R-N.C., to better protect […]

Finding CRSC eligibility worth the effort

By Tom Philpott: Military Update Retired Army 1st Sgt. Arthur C. Thornburgh of Ewell, Ala., figures the Department of Defense owes him $20,000 so far in Combat-Related Special Compensation. The missing payments, he said with evident frustration, go back to June 1, 2003, the day he applied and also the day the CRSC program began. […]

Initiatives by Congress may be too costly

By Tom Philpott:Military Update A senior Defense official has warned Congress against creating an entitlement-rich military the nation cannot afford. Charles S. Abell, principal deputy under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, was asked last week while testifying before the Total Force Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee to list a few issues […]

SBP, healthcare top retirees’ wish list

Tom Philpott Advocates for military retirees will press Congress this year to enact two more major benefit reforms, one to improve the oft-criticized Survivor Benefit Plan and another to move the government nearer to providing free healthcare to a generation of older retirees. Neither is expected to be backed by the Bush administration. The top […]

Pentagon rejects raising retiree drug costs, for now

Tom Philpott Defense Department officials have defeated a White House budget initiative that would have raised prescription fees for military retirees, their spouses and survivors next October. The plan included imposing first-ever co-payments on retiree prescriptions filled at base pharmacies. Higher pharmacy fees remain a possibility by October 2005. The Office of Management and Budget’s […]

Disabled military to get higher pay

By Tom Philpott Though unseen by an anxious population of disabled retirees, work proceeds at the Pentagon and the Defense Finance and Accounting Service to implement a multi-billion-dollar upgrade in retirement benefits. The effort soon will deliver bigger paychecks to 200,000 or more annuitants. Here is how the two new programs — limited Concurrent Receipt […]

Agreement means more money for vets

Tom Philpott Congress and the Bush administration have agreed to a $22.1 billion deal over 10 years that will dramatically pare back a century-old ban on “concurrent receipt” of both military retired pay and tax-free disability compensation for injuries or illnesses traced to time in service. Up to 200,000 disabled retirees with 20 or more […]

New plan in works for offset retired pay

Tom Philpott With fewer strings attached this time to avoid the ire of veterans’ groups, House leaders are nearing a new deal with the Bush administration to end for many military retirees the offset in retired pay that occurs when they draw disability pay from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The deal would cost an […]

Police pay problem can solve jail issue

Letters to the editor It was not until I read the insightful comments of your readers in last Sunday’s paper that the solution to the city/county dilemma of police office pay and prisoner housing became clear. Step 1: We can fire any of the cops who want money for their work. Right away this eliminates […]

Benefits last for retirees

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Doy Mick, beneficiary services representative at Cannon Air Force Base for Triwest Healthcare, explains health care benefits for military retirees. Darrell Todd Maurina With an estimated 2,600 military retirees within a 100-mile radius, many Cannon Air Force Base facilities serve not only the base’s active-duty population but also those who retired from the service. Those […]

Medicare not good enough for Congressmen

In a glaring example of Congressional hypocrisy, federal lawmakers are working to ensure that when they retire they won’t have to live under the Medicare drug reforms they’re attempting to enact for mere commoners. The House recently passed legislation to guarantee that federal retirees — future retired members of Congress included — receive comparable health […]

Pressure rises to ease military pay law

By Tom Philpott House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert and other Republican leaders are urging President Bush to drop his veto threat and allow Congress to further ease the century-old law that bans “concurrent receipt” of full military retired pay and Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) disability compensation. Capitol Hill sources said career retirees who now […]

Volume is cause of wait for applications

By Tom Philpott Tens of thousands of military retirees still intend to apply for the new Combat-Related Special Compensation. Though the first CRSC applications were filed in early June, only about 1,000 were reviewed and 100 approved in time for payments to begin July 1. Given the volume of applications, waits of two to three […]

Fate of retirees’ compensation still up in air

By Tom Philpott More than 670,000 military retirees with VA-rated disabilities are ineligible for the new Combat-Related Special Compensation. Many wonder whether CRSC truly is a beachhead in battle for “concurrent receipt” of full retired and VA disability compensation, or the end of the line on this issue. That will depend on whether lawmakers vowing […]

High court ends retirees’ quest for free care

By Tom Philpott A seven-year court challenge by elderly military retirees, who say the government reneged on promises of free lifetime health care, came to an end June 2 when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear their appeal. In refusing to accept the case for review, the justices let stand a 2002 decision by […]