View Full Version : TROA Benefits Information Update November 2002

11-05-02, 10:41 AM
1. COLA is 1.4% for 2003
2. HHS Announces Medicare Premium And Deductible Rates For 2003
3. TROA Scholarship Fund a Designated Charity
4. TROA Benefits Information Booklets And Fact Sheets Available On Line
5. FLTCIP Open Enrollment Passes Midway Point
6. TRICARE Online Promises Easier, Faster Service To Some Patients
7. DECA Scholarships For Children Program Opened Nov. 1
8. "myPay" Improves DFAS Electronic Pay Services
9. DoD Releases Deseret Test Center/Project 112/Project Shad Fact Sheets
10. Helping You Solve The TFL ID-Card Puzzle

1. COLA is 1.4% for 2003

Monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits to more than 50 million Americans will increase 1.4 percent in 2003.

Military retirees will also get the 1.4 percent increase since raises are based on the Consumer Price Index which determines the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to various programs including military retired pay, survivor benefits, and veterans compensation, in addition to Social Security benefits.

The 1.4 percent increase will begin with benefits that beneficiaries receive in January 2003.

Some other changes that take effect in January of each year are based on the increase in average wages. Based on that increase, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $87,000 from $84,900 in 2002.
As a result of the increase in the taxable maximum in 2003, the maximum yearly Social Security tax paid by employees and employers will increase by $130.20 each for a total of $5394.00. For self-employed workers, it will rise by $260.40 to a total of $10,788.00. Of the approximately 155 million workers who pay Social Security taxes, about 9.7 million are affected by the higher wage base in 2003.

2. HHS Announces Medicare Premium And Deductible Rates For 2003

On the heels of the slight 1.4 percent Social Security increase, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a more substantial increase in the Medicare premium, deductible and coinsurance amounts to be paid by Medicare beneficiaries in 2003.

The monthly premium paid by beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Part B, which covers physician services, outpatient hospital services, certain home health services, durable medical equipment and other items, will be $58.70, an increase of 8.7 percent over the $54.00 premium for 2002.

Medicare law requires that the deductibles and premiums be updated annually in accordance with statutory formulas. The law sets the Part B premium at the amount needed to cover 25 percent of estimated program costs for aged enrollees. General revenue tax dollars cover the other 75 percent of the costs. The same statute prescribes the method for computing the Part A inpatient hospital deductible.

All Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in Part B pay the monthly premium. The Part A deductible applies only to those enrolled in the original fee-for-service Medicare program.

Most of Medicare's 40.4 million beneficiaries are enrolled in the optional Part B, which helps pay for physician services, hospital outpatient care, durable medical equipment and other services, including some home health care. Nearly 90 percent also have some form of supplemental coverage (such as Medigap, Medicaid, or TRICARE For Life) to help reduce out-of-pocket medical costs.

The Part A deductible is the beneficiary's only cost for up to 60 days of Medicare-covered inpatient hospital care. However, for extended Medicare-covered hospital stays, beneficiaries must pay an additional $210 per day for days 61 through 90 in 2003, and $420 per day for hospital stays beyond the 90th day in a benefit period. For 2002, per day payment for days 61 through 90 was $203, and $406 for beyond 90 days.
For beneficiaries in skilled nursing facilities, the daily co-insurance for days 21 through 100 will be $105 in 2003, compared to $101.50 in 2002. Most military retirees with TRICARE For Life do not incur these costs.

States have programs that pay some or all of beneficiaries' premiums and coinsurance for certain people who have Medicare and a low income. Information is available at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) and, for hearing and speech impaired, at TTY/TDD: 1-877-486-2048.

Information concerning the Social Security Cost of Living increase for 2003 was also released today and can be found at http://www.SSA.gov.

3. TROA Scholarship Fund a Designated Charity

The TROA Scholarship Fund is a designated charity of the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) and local United Way campaigns. Recipients are children of TROA members, and children of active-duty, Reserve, National Guard, or retired enlisted military personnel. If you wish to contribute through the Combined Federal Campaign or the United Way of the National Capital Area, the TROA Scholarship Fund number is 2142. Otherwise, look for the Scholarship Fund number in your local United Way Campaign literature listed as Retired Officers Association Scholarship Fund (TROA). If you cannot locate the charity number, you can write in TROA Scholarship Fund, 201 N Washington St., Alexandria, VA 22314 on your pledge card. Remember, all money donated to the fund is used for loans and grants. The administrative costs are paid by TROA.

4. TROA Benefits Information Booklets And Fact Sheets Available On Line

Did you know that you could view and download most of TROA's Benefits Information Department Booklets and Fact Sheets from your computer? Log onto www.TROA.org and select "Benefits Information" to enter the Benefits Information area. You can order booklets to be sent to you through the mail from this area. However, you can also click on "Fact Sheets" to read or download those documents. Booklets can also be downloaded in total or in sections from the same area. Just select the "Booklets" item contained in the Fact Sheets section to view the selections available.

5. FLTCIP Open Enrollment Passes Midway Point

The open enrollment season for the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program has now past the halfway point. The season started July 1 and eligible individuals can enroll through Dec. 31.

Those eligible include active-duty members, retirees, reservists, federal civilian employees, their spouses, parents, stepparents, parents-in-law, and adult children.
The insurance is offered by John Hancock and MetLife and is administered by Long
Term Care Partners, a joint venture between the two companies.

For more information, call (800) LTC-FEDS or visit www.LTCFEDS.com. Please note that Federal Long Term Care Insurance is not a TRICARE program.

6. TRICARE Online Promises Easier, Faster Service To Some Patients

Some TRICARE Prime and Plus beneficiaries have a new tool that makes getting doctor's appointments and health care information as easy as clicking a mouse.

TRICARE Online at http://www.tricareonline.com/ is DoD's first effort at using the Internet to reach out and touch patients across the entire military health system. More than 4,000 TRICARE patients have made routine appointments using http://www.tricareonline.com/ since testing began in June 2001. The initial test installations were Andrews Air Force Base, Md.; Rader Clinic, Fort Myer, Va.; and Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C.

Anyone with a Web browser can surf the site, but only TRICARE Prime and Plus beneficiaries in the serviced areas are currently able to use the site to make appointments with primary health care providers. The Web site features a 30- to 40-day calendar showing patients all available appointments with their primary care manager or the manager's team members where they're enrolled.

Beneficiaries must set up a password-protected personal account on the site to take full advantage of TRICARE Online's power. People will be able to refill their prescriptions on the Web within the next year. That service currently is unavailable.


11-05-02, 10:42 AM
7. DECA Scholarships For Children Program Opened Nov. 1

The 2003 Scholarships for Military Children program opened for business Nov. 1 and the burning question is "How has being the child of a military service member influenced your educational goals?" The scholarships are sponsored by the Defense Commissary Agency and managed by Fisher House Foundation.

The Scholarships for Military Children program has awarded 920 scholarships and nearly $1.5 million in its first two years. All funds for scholarships are donated by the various manufacturers, brokers and suppliers that provide products for sale in military commissaries, which are recognized as a valuable quality of life benefit and an integral part of the military community. Applications for the 2003 program can be downloaded from http://www.commissaries.com or http://www.fisherhouse.org starting Nov. 1. They can also be picked up at any commissary. The deadline for returning applications by hand or mail to a commissary is Feb. 21, 2003.

The scholarship program is open to dependent unmarried children (under the age of 23) of active duty personnel, Reserve, Guard and retired military. Eligibility will be determined using the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) database. Applicants should ensure that they, as well as their sponsor, are currently enrolled in the DEERS database and that they have a current ID card.

All applicants must be citizens of the United States. The applicant must be planning to attend, or already attending, an accredited college or university full-time in the fall term of 2003. Students attending a community or junior college must be enrolled in a program of studies designed to transfer directly into a four-year program. See instruction sheets for additional criteria.

8. "myPay" Improves DFAS Electronic Pay Services

Members of the retiree community can now enjoy improved services from "myPay" to manage their pay account information more easily and more securely than ever before. Formerly known as E/MSS, myPay allows retirees and annuitants as well as active, Reserve, and Guard members and civilian employees to take charge of their pay accounts online. The new improved service launches today on the Internet Oct. 15 at http://mypay.dfas.mil. With myPay, customers can perform the following activities by simply using their existing E/MSS Personal Identification Number (PIN):

View, print and save leave and earnings statements
View and print tax statements (military members will have this available in Jan. 2003)
Change federal and state tax withholdings
Update bank account and electronic funds transfer information
Manage allotments
Edit address information
Purchase U.S. Savings Bonds
Control Thrift Savings Plan enrollment (military only)
View and print travel vouchers
(Features vary by Armed Service and status. The Coast Guard, NOAA and Public Health Service are not paid by DFAS).

According to DFAS officials, myPay's new design helps customers find the information they want and complete any transaction in just three clicks. Available nearly 24 hours a day, myPay means no waiting in lines or on the phone. It also improves customer confidence by providing clear confirmation messages. myPay combines strong encryption and secure sockets layer technology with the user's social security number and PIN to safeguard information from unauthorized access.

Using myPay can save millions of dollars in printing, postage and customer service costs. The service provides leave and earning statements online, so customers can turn off the print version of their statements and save Uncle Sam money. If all civilian employees received their leave and earning statements electronically, the Department of Defense could save more than $6 million annually.

The Defense Finance and Accounting Service also estimates an additional 17 percent of costs associated with traditional customer service activities can be eliminated by satisfying common questions and account updates online.
Customers who have been using E/MSS can continue to use their PIN at https://mypay.dfas.mil. Customers in the following categories - military retirees and annuitants, civilian employees, active Air Force and Marine Corps members - who need a new PIN should go to the web site, click on "need new PIN?"

Active Army and Navy members may request PINs by faxing name, social security number, phone number, signature, and copy of a government ID to DFAS at 216/522-5800. Then, log on following the instructions provided.

All customers with questions about myPay can call customer support at (800)
390-2348, Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time.

9. DoD Releases Deseret Test Center/Project 112/Project Shad Fact Sheets

The Department of Defense today released another 28 detailed fact sheets on 27 Cold War-era chemical and biological warfare tests identified as Project 112. Project 112 was a comprehensive program initiated in 1962 out of concern for our ability to protect and defend against these potential threats.

This is in addition to the 12 fact sheets for 10 tests released in September 2001 and January and May this year. Release of the information is part of an on-going effort to provide information needed by the Department of Veterans Affairs to respond to some
Veterans' claims that tests conducted in the 1960s and early 1970s may have affected their health. The new fact sheets cover tests performed both at sea and on land. A DoD investigative team found that actual chemical and biological warfare agents and simulants for these agents were used in some of these tests.

Equipment and Terrain Testing

From 1962 to 1973, the Deseret Test Center, headquartered at Fort Douglas, Utah, conducted a series of chemical and biological warfare vulnerability tests in support of Project 112. The Deseret Test Center planned 134 tests: 46 are confirmed conducted and 62 were canceled. Currently, DoD investigators are searching for final reports on five tests, an additional four tests are pending review, and the status of 26 other planned tests is still under investigation.

The purpose of the tests done under Project Shipboard Hazard and Defense was to identify U.S. warships' vulnerabilities to attacks with chemical or biological warfare agents and to develop procedures to respond to such attacks while maintaining
a war-fighting capability. The purpose of the land-based tests was to learn more about how chemical or biological agents behave under a variety of climatic, environmental and use conditions.

The releases can be viewed at: http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Oct2002/d20021009112.pdf. The site includes fact sheets about two tests conducted off the coast of California, two tests conducted in the coastal waters of Hawaii, one test conducted in Puerto Rico, and one test conducted on Baker Island as part of Project SHAD. The remainders are land-based tests conducted in Alaska (11), Florida (one), Hawaii (three), Maryland (one), Utah (three), Canada (one), and one test done jointly in the U.K. and Canada.

Veterans' Concerns

The Department of Defense began investigating the shipboard hazard and defense tests in September 2000, after the Department of Veterans Affairs asked the DoD for information needed to clarify claims information from servicemembers who believed they might have been exposed to harmful substances during their participation in tests. The VA claims experts needed to know what substances veterans may have been exposed to and who might have been exposed. DoD agreed to deliver that information when it could be found.

An investigative team located and searched classified records to identify which ships and units were involved in the tests, when the tests took place, and to what substances their crews and other personnel may have been exposed. This required declassification of test-related ship and location information, without release of information that remains classified for valid operational security reasons.

As DoD's investigators continued their examination of the facts associated with these tests, it became clear that an investigation of all the tests conducted by the Deseret Test
Center was necessary. Consequently, early this year the investigation of shipboard hazard and defense tests was expanded to include all tests conducted by the Deseret Test Center.

Health and Safety

While some may be concerned about a possible connection between an exposure in the 1960s or 1970s and a later illness, DoD investigators have not identified a link to these tests and adverse health consequences. Documents show that these were comprehensive tests that carefully considered the health and safety of the personnel involved in conducting the tests and protecting the environment. The DoD investigation into Deseret
Test Center tests continues, and DoD is committed to releasing as much information as possible on all tests conducted.

Veterans who believe they were involved in Deseret Test Center tests and desire medical evaluations should call the VA's Helpline at (800) 749-8387. Veterans who have DoD related questions, who have information to contribute, or who are DoD beneficiaries and have medical concerns or questions, should call DoD's Deployment Health Support Directorate's contact center at (800) 497-6261. All Deseret Test Center fact sheets are available on the DeploymentLINK Web site at


11-05-02, 10:43 AM
10. Helping You Solve The TFL ID-Card Puzzle

Are you confused about TRICARE For Life (TFL) and whether you need to update your Uniformed Services Identification (ID) Card to use the program? Do you want to know the difference between updating your Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) record and obtaining a new ID card? Do you want to know why the back of your ID card reads "Civilian No" and your friend or family member's reads "Civilian Yes?" If your answer to any of these questions is yes, then you will find the following information helpful.

If you are a sponsor, age 65 or over, and eligible for Medicare Parts A and B, you do not need to update your current ID card to receive health care under TFL -- even if the medical eligibility status printed on the back of your ID card indicates "Civilian No." Medicare Part B is required for TFL eligibility. If you have used TFL and have received a TRICARE explanation of benefits statement that TFL has paid your claims, you do not need to notify DEERS that you have Medicare Part B. Your Medicare Part B information has been picked up in a data match with Medicare. You do not need to update anything in DEERS other than changes in your residence, mailing address or family member status.

If you haven't used TRICARE For Life yet or don't think that your Medicare Part B information is being picked up during TFL claims processing, you may call your regional managed care support contractor or visit your nearest military personnel office that has an ID-card facility and have them register your Medicare Part B enrollment status in DEERS. If you visit an ID-card facility, you should bring your Medicare card with you. You may go online to locate the nearest personnel office or ID facility at www.dmdc.osd.mil/rsl, or call 1-888-DoD-LIFE (1-888-363-5433) for these locations and other information about TRICARE For Life. You do not need to obtain a new ID card when you add your enrollment in Medicare Part B, as you are only updating your record.

If you are a family member, survivor, or TRICARE-eligible former spouse age 65 or over, and eligible for Medicare Parts A and B, you need to look at your ID card and see if it has expired. If you have an expired ID card, you should visit or contact the nearest military personnel office that has an ID card facility to have a new ID card issued.

You may go online to locate the nearest personnel office or ID facility at www.dmdc.osd.mil/rsl, or call 1-888-DoD-LIFE (1-888-363-5433) for these locations and other information about TRICARE For Life. If you are not able to travel, contact your nearest ID card facility for instructions on renewing your ID card by mail. To renew your ID card, you must have a pre-verified application form titled, Application for Uniformed Services Identification Card -- DEERS Enrollment, DD Form 1172. If your sponsor is alive, the form must be signed by your sponsor in front of a notary public or other authorized verifying officer. If you are a survivor, you should contact your local ID card office for the documents that are required to obtain an ID card.

Family member ID cards are current for four years, unless you turn 65 during the four-year period. Turning 65 is another reason for your ID card to expire.

If you are over age 65 and have recently updated your ID card, your medical eligibility status printed on the back of your ID card may indicate "Civilian Yes." This means you are eligible for TFL.

If you have had no reason to update your ID card (it hasn't expired and you haven't recently turned 65), your medical eligibility status printed on the back of your ID card may indicate "Civilian No." You are not required to update your current ID card to receive health care under TFL. The next time you update your ID card, the medical eligibility status will be changed.

To update Medicare Part A and B eligibility in your DEERS record, the process is the same for sponsors, family members, and survivors of eligible former sponsors, as long as their Social Security Number (in addition to the sponsor's) is recorded in DEERS. If you have used TFL and you have received a TRICARE explanation of benefits, it is not necessary for you to update DEERS. Your Medicare Part B information has been picked up in a data match with Medicare. You do not need to update anything in DEERS other than changes in your residence or mailing address.

To verify your eligibility in DEERS, you may call the Defense Manpower Data Center Support Office toll free at 1-800-538-9552, or TTY/TDD: 1-800-363-2883 for speech or hearing impaired. If you require additional information on enrolling in Medicare Part B, contact the Social Security Administration toll free at 1-800-772-1213, or TTY/TDD: 1-800-325-0778 for speech or hearing impaired. Additional information on Medicare is available at www.medicare.gov, and up-to-date information on TFL is available on the TRICARE Web site at http://www.tricare.osd.mil/tfl.