Deadline extended for special military pay

Military members and veterans have until March 18 to file for special pay if their service was extended involuntarily between Sept. 11, 2001, and Sept. 30, 2009.

The 2009 supplemental war appropriations law authorized retroactive stop-loss special pay of up to $500 for every full or partial month that military members served on stop-loss status. The term stop-loss refers to the 1984 presidential authority to keep military members on active duty beyond their service separation date to maintain defense operations and unit cohesion.

Congress set aside $534.4 million in the fiscal 2009 defense supplemental act to pay such claims; to date about $300 million in claims have been paid, despite the services' efforts to find and inform active members, veterans and their families who might be eligible for the money. The outreach has included mail and media campaigns, as well as contact through organizations, according to the Veterans Affairs Department.

After March 18, the law prohibits stop-loss payments.

A 2009 report from the Congressional Research Service estimated the more than 12,000 soldiers in the Army, Army Reserve and National Guard were on stop-loss status. As of 2009, only the Army was using its stop-loss program and in March of that year, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced the phased suspension of the Army's program. While the services retain the legal authority to use the stop-loss program, they must prove critical skills are in short supply and ensure the reinstatement is temporary.

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