Top generals, admirals can make more in retirement than on active duty, report shows

Sang Tan/AP

This story has been updated with comment.

The military’s top generals and admirals can now make more in retirement than they did on active duty, thanks to pension rules that were changed as part of the 2007 National Defense Authorization Act, USA Today reports.

According to the paper’s examination of congressional and federal records, a four-star officer retired in 2011 with 38 years in the military can receive a pension of about $219,600, or 63 percent beyond what was previously allowed. Three-star officers with 35 years’ experience can receive about $169,000, or 30 percent higher than they would before the 2007 law was enacted.

Before the change, the maximum pension was based on an officer’s pay at 26 years’ of service, USA Today reports.

“Pentagon officials sought to change top officers’ pensions in 2003, records show, over concerns that the military would lose too many experienced generals and admirals during wartime,” USA Today’s Tom Vanden Brook wrote.

“At the time of this legislation, with the exception of cost-of-living increases, most [of the admirals and generals] were serving for over a decade without increases in salary or retired pay,” Pentagon spokeswoman Eileen Lainez said.

“The legislative changes provided greater incentive and more appropriate compensation of service for individuals who the department retains beyond 30 years of service, increasing readiness through increased retention,” Lainez added.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s fiscal 2013 budget proposal released in January calls on lawmakers to establish a panel to review military retirement “in the context of total military compensation,” but does not make specific recommendations that target military retirements as a source of savings.

The department could not speculate on whether or not this panel might examine or impact the pension increases, Lainez said.

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