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Disabled Military Retirees Not Exempt from Pension Cuts in Budget Deal

Posted by on Dec. 18, 2013 at 8:50 AM
  • 16 Replies

A provision cutting the pensions of military retirees in the bipartisan budget deal that the Senate will vote on this week does not exempt disabled veterans, the Washington Free Beacon has learned.

Disabled retirees were previously thought to be exempt from the changes to military retiree pay, which could cost servicemembers up to $124,000 over a 20-year period.

The Free Beacon previously reported that military retirees under the age of 62 would receive 1 percentage point less in their annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in the plan crafted by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D., Wash.).

The section of the U.S. code that has been altered also applies to disabled servicemembers, many of whom have been wounded in combat.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.), ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, called the change “unthinkable.”

“It has been asserted that the controversial change to military retirees’ pensions affects those who are ‘working-age’ and ‘still in their working years,’ with the clear suggestion being that these individuals are able to work,” Sessions said in a statement. “That’s why I was deeply troubled when my staff and I discovered that even individuals who have been wounded and suffered a service-related disability could see their pensions reduced under this plan.”

“It is unthinkable that this provision would be included in a deal that spares current civilian workers from the same treatment,” he said. “An equivalent amount of savings and more can be easily found, and I hope the Senate will move to address the unbalanced treatment of our servicemembers before considering the legislation any further.”

An original copy of a summary of the budget agreement, obtained by the Free Beacon, explicitly stated that disabled veterans would be exempt.

“This provision modifies the annual cost-of-living adjustment for working-age military retirees by making the adjustments equal to inflation minus 1 percent,” reads the summary, which was sent on Dec. 10. “This change would be gradually phased in, with no change for the current year, a 0.25 percent decrease in December 2014, and a 0.5 percent decrease in December 2015.

“This would not affect servicemembers who retired because of disability or injury.”

The summary now posted on the House Budget Committee website removed the sentence relating to disabled retirees.

The Ryan-Murray deal affects Chapter 71, Section 1401 of the United States Code, which deals with the pay of military retirees.

As the code is currently written, servicemembers can be eligible for early Chapter 61 retirement if it is determined that, due to a physical disability, that individual is no longer able to perform the duties of their office, grade, or rank. The individual must hold a disability rating of 30 percent or more according to Department of Defense standards, and the disability must be the proximate result of performing their duties during a time of war or national emergency.

Section 403 of the budget agreement amends section 1401a(b) of Title 10, U.S. Code, adding the “CPI minus one” percent provision, lowering the COLAs of disabled retirees.

Wounded servicemembers are entitled to Veterans Administration Disability Benefits, which remain unchanged by the budget deal. However, the change to Chapter 61 retirement could account for about 55 percent of a wounded service member’s disability pay, according to a Senate aide.

For example, a 28-year-old staff sergeant (an E-5 rank) who is forced to retire after 10 years would see approximately $50,000 in lost compensation over the next 40 years.

Rep. Ryan told the Weekly Standard that the changes are appropriate because servicemen and women who retire in their 40s after serving for two decades are still young enough to maintain a job.

“We give them a slightly smaller adjustment for inflation because they’re still in their working years and in most cases earning another paycheck,” Ryan said.

Sens. Roger Wicker (R., Miss.), Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), James Inhofe (R., Okla.), and Kelly Ayotte (R., N.H.) have said they are opposed to the deal because it cuts the benefits of military retirees, while not imposing equal cuts to federal civilian workers.

Will Allison, spokesman for the House Budget Committee, said the COLA provision does not offer any exemptions.

“The federal government has no greater obligation than to keep the American people safe,” Allison told the Free Beacon. “And it must take care of the men and women in uniform who put their lives on the line. To meet our obligations to our service men and women, we must make sure their long-term benefits are on a sound, financial footing.”

“Specifically to your question,” Allison said, “the COLA provision does not include additional exemptions, but to clarify: The Bipartisan Budget Act does not affect any benefits provided to veterans in compensation for disabilities suffered as a result of their service.”

“There are no changes made to disability-compensation benefits and no changes that would impact their VA-provided medical care,” he said.

The Senate is expected to pass the deal by a simple majority this week, after it cleareda crucial procedural vote on Tuesday.

Over the weekend, Ryan said it is possible to make changes to the military retiree provision, since it will not take effect immediately.

“We delayed this provision so that it doesn’t take effect until the year 2016, which gives Congress and the military community time to address the broader compensation issue, including this provision, if people believe there’s a better way to solve this problem,” he told the Weekly Standard.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D., Mich.) also has said he will review the cut to military pensions.

“We’re going to look at the whole benefits issue for veterans,” Levin told Stars and Stripes on Friday. “I can’t obviously make a commitment, but I am committed to reviewing this and looking at the impacts.”

by on Dec. 18, 2013 at 8:50 AM
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Replies (1-10):
Woodbabe
by Woodie on Dec. 18, 2013 at 9:24 AM
2 moms liked this

This is bullshit. When are the going to start cutting back benefits for the Civilian Federal workforce? You know, whose people whose closest taste of battle is cutting someone off on 495?

nelopyma
by Bronze Member on Dec. 18, 2013 at 9:34 AM


Quoting Woodbabe:

This is bullshit. When are the going to start cutting back benefits for the Civilian Federal workforce? You know, whose people whose closest taste of battle is cutting someone off on 495?

They already have.  Federal employees will contribute more to their pensions under the budget deal.  Their health premiums increased. Most were furloughed for at least 6 days over the summer.  I can't speak for others, but that was quite a hit for us.  And their pay has been frozen for the past 3 years.  They're not untouched.

Woodbabe
by Woodie on Dec. 18, 2013 at 9:40 AM


Quoting nelopyma:


Quoting Woodbabe:

This is bullshit. When are the going to start cutting back benefits for the Civilian Federal workforce? You know, whose people whose closest taste of battle is cutting someone off on 495?

They already have.  Federal employees will contribute more to their pensions under the budget deal.  Their health premiums increased. Most were furloughed for at least 6 days over the summer.  I can't speak for others, but that was quite a hit for us.  And their pay has been frozen for the past 3 years.  They're not untouched.

And those federal workers up there in Congress? How were they touched? 

I just don't understand the cutting of pay to people who volunteered to serve their country and were blown up or otherwise permanently disabled. While Congress never takes a hit.

 Sexy If its unladylike, fattening or fun, I'm in!
  

nelopyma
by Bronze Member on Dec. 18, 2013 at 10:00 AM
1 mom liked this


Quoting Woodbabe:


Quoting nelopyma:


Quoting Woodbabe:

This is bullshit. When are the going to start cutting back benefits for the Civilian Federal workforce? You know, whose people whose closest taste of battle is cutting someone off on 495?

They already have.  Federal employees will contribute more to their pensions under the budget deal.  Their health premiums increased. Most were furloughed for at least 6 days over the summer.  I can't speak for others, but that was quite a hit for us.  And their pay has been frozen for the past 3 years.  They're not untouched.

And those federal workers up there in Congress? How were they touched? 

I just don't understand the cutting of pay to people who volunteered to serve their country and were blown up or otherwise permanently disabled. While Congress never takes a hit.

Congress doesn't fall under the category of "civilian federal employees."  It's an entity all on its own, and I think they're incredibly overpaid for how little they've done over the past 5 years or so.

Congress continued to get paid during the shutdown because it's mandatory to pay them under federal law.  A huge insult to the gov't workers who were furloughed, or worse, had to continue to work without knowing when they would be paid.

But the average ordinary federal employee makes about $45-$50K per year.  Everyone bitches about gov't workers getting lots of pay for no work.  On the whole, it's not true.  Hell, DH has had to use his vacation days to cover his Guard duty.

Woodbabe
by Woodie on Dec. 18, 2013 at 11:58 AM


Quoting nelopyma:


Quoting Woodbabe:


Quoting nelopyma:


Quoting Woodbabe:

This is bullshit. When are the going to start cutting back benefits for the Civilian Federal workforce? You know, whose people whose closest taste of battle is cutting someone off on 495?

They already have.  Federal employees will contribute more to their pensions under the budget deal.  Their health premiums increased. Most were furloughed for at least 6 days over the summer.  I can't speak for others, but that was quite a hit for us.  And their pay has been frozen for the past 3 years.  They're not untouched.

And those federal workers up there in Congress? How were they touched? 

I just don't understand the cutting of pay to people who volunteered to serve their country and were blown up or otherwise permanently disabled. While Congress never takes a hit.

Congress doesn't fall under the category of "civilian federal employees."  It's an entity all on its own, and I think they're incredibly overpaid for how little they've done over the past 5 years or so.

Congress continued to get paid during the shutdown because it's mandatory to pay them under federal law.  A huge insult to the gov't workers who were furloughed, or worse, had to continue to work without knowing when they would be paid.

But the average ordinary federal employee makes about $45-$50K per year.  Everyone bitches about gov't workers getting lots of pay for no work.  On the whole, it's not true.  Hell, DH has had to use his vacation days to cover his Guard duty.

I get what you're saying but the biggest crime at the Pentagon is the number of Federal GS-OMG employees making over $150,000 who sit around creating bureaucracy and paperwork...and not really doing anything except justifying their jobs. My military husband is surrounded by these men who spend their days shopping online and wandering around the office looking for conversations. Two years he's watched this. And the majority of them are over the age of 60. Tell me again why a permanently disabled veteran should be losing money but these guys aren't? And seriously, when these disabled vets are forced into welfare, is the govt. really saving money or just moving it around from one spending pot to another?

 Sexy If its unladylike, fattening or fun, I'm in!
  

UpSheRises
by Platinum Member on Dec. 18, 2013 at 12:00 PM

I heard it was about $8000 lost over 20 years. The article says $124,000...that seems like a huge discrepancy.

Can anyone weigh in on that?

Woodbabe
by Woodie on Dec. 18, 2013 at 12:06 PM

Its connected to how much money you are actually making...which is based on your last three years of active duty pay combined with pay determined by the extent of your disability. A person who is 30% disabled won't draw as much pay per year as someone that is 100% disabled. Rank, time in service...they both contribute to this as well.

Quoting UpSheRises:

I heard it was about $8000 lost over 20 years. The article says $124,000...that seems like a huge discrepancy.

Can anyone weigh in on that?


 Sexy If its unladylike, fattening or fun, I'm in!
  

Woodbabe
by Woodie on Dec. 18, 2013 at 12:12 PM


Quoting Woodbabe:


Quoting nelopyma:


Quoting Woodbabe:


Quoting nelopyma:


Quoting Woodbabe:

This is bullshit. When are the going to start cutting back benefits for the Civilian Federal workforce? You know, whose people whose closest taste of battle is cutting someone off on 495?

They already have.  Federal employees will contribute more to their pensions under the budget deal.  Their health premiums increased. Most were furloughed for at least 6 days over the summer.  I can't speak for others, but that was quite a hit for us.  And their pay has been frozen for the past 3 years.  They're not untouched.

And those federal workers up there in Congress? How were they touched? 

I just don't understand the cutting of pay to people who volunteered to serve their country and were blown up or otherwise permanently disabled. While Congress never takes a hit.

Congress doesn't fall under the category of "civilian federal employees."  It's an entity all on its own, and I think they're incredibly overpaid for how little they've done over the past 5 years or so.

Congress continued to get paid during the shutdown because it's mandatory to pay them under federal law.  A huge insult to the gov't workers who were furloughed, or worse, had to continue to work without knowing when they would be paid.

But the average ordinary federal employee makes about $45-$50K per year.  Everyone bitches about gov't workers getting lots of pay for no work.  On the whole, it's not true.  Hell, DH has had to use his vacation days to cover his Guard duty.

I get what you're saying but the biggest crime at the Pentagon is the number of Federal GS-OMG employees making over $150,000 who sit around creating bureaucracy and paperwork...and not really doing anything except justifying their jobs. My military husband is surrounded by these men who spend their days shopping online and wandering around the office looking for conversations. Two years he's watched this. And the majority of them are over the age of 60. Tell me again why a permanently disabled veteran should be losing money but these guys aren't? And seriously, when these disabled vets are forced into welfare, is the govt. really saving money or just moving it around from one spending pot to another?

Oh and trust me...none of THEM were furloughed.

 Sexy If its unladylike, fattening or fun, I'm in!
  

UpSheRises
by Platinum Member on Dec. 18, 2013 at 12:12 PM

 Is it different for disabled vets versus retired vets as well? I think the report i watched was only talking about regular retirees.

Quoting Woodbabe:

Its connected to how much money you are actually making...which is based on your last three years of active duty pay combined with pay determined by the extent of your disability. A person who is 30% disabled won't draw as much pay per year as someone that is 100% disabled. Rank, time in service...they both contribute to this as well.

Quoting UpSheRises:

I heard it was about $8000 lost over 20 years. The article says $124,000...that seems like a huge discrepancy.

Can anyone weigh in on that?


 

lga1965
by on Dec. 18, 2013 at 12:15 PM
You're right.

Quoting Woodbabe:

This is bullshit. When are the going to start cutting back benefits for the Civilian Federal workforce? You know, whose people whose closest taste of battle is cutting someone off on 495?

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