Pay and Benefits Watch: Military retiree roundup

Pay and Benefits Watch: Military retiree roundup

Last week's legislative update took a look at the current status on Capitol Hill of bills affecting federal pay and benefits. Some of these bills have been added as amendments to larger appropriations and authorization bills currently working their way through Congress. Here's a look at a couple of bills that readers have requested updates on:

  • H.R. 1079
    This measure aims to right a foul-up in the retirement system for military reserve technicians who are covered under the Federal Employees Retirement System or the Civil Service Retirement System. The bill affects National Guard and military reserve technicians who have dual status as civilian and military personnel and are therefore caught between two different retirement systems. Civilian personnel with less than 30 years service can retire at 55 with a reduced retirement while military personnel can retire with full benefits with 20 years of service. H.R. 1079 strikes a compromise, allowing dual status technicians to be eligible for full retirement after turning 50 with 20 years of service or at any age with 25 years of service. A spokesman from the office of Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii, said the item was included in the fiscal 2001 defense authorization bill, but noted that it would be an uphill battle to get the amendment included in the final conference report.
  • S. 2357
    Sponsored by Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., this bill has also been tacked on as an amendment to the fiscal 2001 defense authorization bill. It would permit retired military members who have a service-connected disability to receive military retired pay concurrently with veterans' disability compensation. A law enacted in 1891 prohibits military retirees from getting both retirement and veterans disability compensation, so they must agree to waive a portion of their retirement pay equal to the amount of compensation. Reid's amendment would change the law to allow concurrent receipt of benefits. Reid has sent letters to members of the conference committee urging inclusion of his amendment. While the bill has a bipartisan support, it may be dropped due to its hefty price tag, according to a spokesman from Reid's office. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that it would benefit more than 400,000 retirees at a cost of about $1.9 billion a year.
In Other Military News ...

The Navy has announced an expansion of its college assistance program, known as CASH. The program will allow recipients to attend college for up to a full year after being sworn in to the Navy while receiving full Navy pay and allowances. It also includes medical and dental benefits for the selectee and his or her family. The Navy is dubbing this an "earn as you learn" program that will allow personnel to work towards a degree while awaiting basic training. For more information see

Former Veterans Affairs Secretary Togo West's replacement, Hershel W. Gober, has made spinal-cord injuries a priority. In his first week on the job, Gover announced a new directive that requires VA health care managers to fully staff spinal-cord injury beds in VA's 23 spinal-cord injury centers and in extended-care nursing home units. It is estimated that about 40,000 veterans live with spinal cord injuries.

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