Military Advantage

Iraq War Ends, Battle for Benefits Begins

While the battles in Iraq end, military pay and benefits may end up being the casualties of next years budget battles.

Tom Philpott’s latest Military Update offers a retrospective of the growth in pay and benefits over the last decade balanced against a warning that the current budget problems will likely end the benefits boom -- record increases in military basic pay, the addition of TRICARE for Life, Concurrent Receipt, an increase in Servicemembers Group Life Insurance and the so-called Death Gratuity.

While the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, which should be on the way to the President for signature, includes several provisions to ease the coming reduction in forces. The defense bill also includes a provision for increasing the TRICARE Prime enrollment fee each year at a rate equal to the retiree cost-of-living-adjustment percentage.

The following is a list of hoped for provisions that didn’t make it to the final cut of the 2012 defense bill:

  • A provision that would have ended reductions in survivor benefit annuities for surviving spouses to match Dependency and Indemnity Compensation.
  • A provision to ease the impact of this SBP-DIC offset by increasing amounts paid under the interim Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance.
  • A lifting of the ban on concurrent receipt for all disabled retirees. This would have expanded CRDP to include disabled retirees with a service-connected disability of 40 percent or less. (CRDP currently only applies to those with 50 percent or greater ratings)
As Tom Philpott points out, “Beneficiaries have reason to be wary of the defense budget to be unveiled in February with all accounts, including personnel, facing spending cuts.”

Read the latest Military Update for more details on the drawdown tools and future benefit cuts.

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