PDA

View Full Version : House Passes Limited Concurrent Receipt Provision



thedrifter
11-14-02, 03:26 PM
This is a special TROA legislative update for Wednesday, November 13,
2002.

Summary: House Passes Limited Concurrent Receipt Provision. House and
Senate Armed Services Committee leaders, fearful of a veto that could
kill the whole FY2003 Defense Authorization Act, convinced the
Administration to accept a reduced package focused on retirees with disabilities due to combat, combat-oriented training or certain other hazard-related circumstances. With that last issue resolved, the House passed the Act (H.R. 4546) by voice vote Tuesday evening. Senate leaders hope to have
a vote today so the Act can be sent to the White House for signature.

House Passes Limited Concurrent Receipt Provision

In the end, House and Senate Armed Services Committee leaders had to
negotiate a limited concurrent receipt provision that didn't leave any of
the parties satisfied. Certainly TROA is deeply disappointed that it
falls far short of the much broader provisions we have been battling for
- and we fully intend to continue that fight. It does not speak well
of the current Administration that 90% of legislators can sign their
names to support full concurrent receipt, that both chambers can pass
substantial programs separately, and we can still end up with a final
provision that falls so far short of what either the House or Senate
approved.

But the Committee leaders believe they had little choice in taking what
they saw as the only possible route to any progress on concurrent
receipt this year, and the only way to keep from killing the FY2003 Defense
Authorization Act and many other important provisions in that
legislation.

They came back to Washington several days early for closed-door
discussions on how to draw up a substantive concurrent receipt provision that wouldn't draw a veto. Then the Senate Armed Services Committee's
senior Republican (and next year's Committee Chairman) Sen. John Warner
(R-VA) visited the President and VA and DoD leaders to persuade them that
some action was needed.

Meeting with military and veterans' association representatives, Sen.
Warner acknowledged that the final agreement was much less than the
Armed Services Committees had hoped to achieve. But he described it as "an
essential beachhead in law" which the Committees hope to expand in the
future. Rep. Ike Skelton (D-MO), the senior Democrat on the House
Armed Services Committee used similar language in describing the deal on
the House floor.

In essence, the deal establishes a new form of "special compensation"
for certain disabled retirees who have at least 20 years of active duty
or a combination of active duty time and Reserve points comprising the
equivalent of 20 years of full-time active duty (unfortunately, very
few Reserve retirees qualify under this strict criterion).

The amount of the special compensation will be the full amount of
retired pay forfeited due to receipt of VA compensation for a qualifying
disability. Unlike the special compensation already in law (which
provides $50 to $300 per month for certain severely disabled retirees), the
new version won't be capped at a specific dollar amount, and will rise
each year as the offset rises. Unlike the current $50 to $300 special
compensation, which requires that a qualifying disability must have
occurred within 4 years after retirement, eligibility for the new version
will not be restricted by any time limit. Qualifying members will be
eligible to receive either the "new" or the "old" special compensation
amount, whichever is higher.

The effective date for the new program will be six months from the date
the President signs the Defense Authorization Act into law (that likely
will happen this month, so the effective date should be sometime in
May). The six-month delay will allow the Pentagon time to determine which
retirees and which disabilities qualify for the new payments (see
below) and establish application procedures (the language passed by the
House indicates qualifying retirees will have to apply for the new special
compensation).

There will be no phase-in or ramp-up period. Qualifying payments will
be paid as of the effective date.

There are two sets of qualifying disabilities, one more complicated
than the other.

On the simple side, any qualifying retiree with a disability rating of
10% or higher that is associated with award of a Purple Heart will be
eligible for the new special compensation. Under this rule, the special
compensation amount will be based on the disability rating awarded for
the combat wound, rather than any higher rating the retiree may have
been awarded for a different reason.

The other, more complicated, eligibility rule covers retirees awarded
disability ratings of 60% or higher for other illnesses/injuries
attributable to combat situations, combat-oriented training, hazardous duty,
or instrumentalities of war. The legislators based these categories on
the Defense Department's current definition of "combat-related"
disabilities, as described in DoD Instruction 1332.38. The following is a
summary of the descriptions in that Instruction, which presumably will be
used to guide DoD eligibility decisions for the new program.

* Direct result of armed conflict: including a war, expedition,
occupation of an area or territory, battle, skirmish, raid, invasion,
rebellion, insurrection, guerrilla action, riot, or any other action in which Service members are engaged with a hostile or belligerent nation,
faction, force, or terrorists.

* While engaged in hazardous service: including, but not limited to,
aerial flight duty, parachute duty, demolition duty, experimental stress
duty, and diving duty.

* Under conditions simulating war: resulting from military training,
such as war games, practice alerts, tactical exercises, airborne
operations, leadership reaction courses, grenade and live fire weapons
practice, bayonet training, hand-to-hand combat training, rappelling, and
negotiation of combat confidence and obstacle courses (does not include
physical training activities, such as calisthenics and jogging or
formation running and supervised sports).

* Caused by instrumentality of war (incurrence during a period or war
is not required): includes such causes as wounds caused by a military
weapon, accidents involving a combat vehicle, injury or sickness caused
by fumes, gases, or explosion of military ordinance, vehicles or
material. (DoD example: an injury resulting from a fall on the deck of a
ship while participating in sports would not normally be covered, since
the sport activity, not the ship, caused the fall. But it would be
covered if the operation of the ship caused the fall.)

Clearly, these guidelines allow for some judgment, so it's uncertain
how many people may qualify. Different Hill sources have offered
estimates ranging from 10,000 to 30,000 eligible retirees, with cost estimates ranging from $4 billion to $9 billion over 10 years. The new Defense Authorization Act specifies that the Pentagon will be responsible for applying the above criteria to determine which VA disability awards
qualify for the special compensation.

In discussing the issue on the House floor, Reps. John Larson (D-CT)
and Gene Taylor (D-MS) expressed their concerns about ensuring that
conditions related to Agent Orange and the Gulf War Syndrome would be
covered. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), who helped negotiate the provision,
expressed his belief that they should be, and expressed his willingness to
write a letter to that effect to the Secretary of Defense.

TROA's bottom line: We agree with the Armed Services Committees that
the authority outline above is preferable, by far, to the alternative of
getting nothing. But it falls far short of what TROA believes is fair,
and still leaves many, many thousands of disabled retirees having to
pay for their own disability compensation. We intend to track
implementation of the new plan closely to ensure the rules are interpreted
reasonably, and will continue the fight to expand eligibility.

We would be remiss if we didn't thank those who have led the way in
this year's battle: Concurrent receipt champions Rep. Mike Bilirakis
(R-FL) and Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), Senate Armed Services Committee leaders
Carl Levin (D-MI) and John Warner (R-VA), House Armed Services
Committee leaders Bob Stump (R-AZ), Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and Ike Skelton
(D-MO), and Reps. Jim Nussle (R-IA) and Charles Bass (R-NH) of the House
Budget Committee.

continued.........

thedrifter
11-14-02, 03:27 PM
Some form of the current law was on the books for more than a century.
Now, with the help of the above-mentioned legislators and many, many
others, we have finally established a beachhead and at least have begun
to address the inequity in a substantive way.

Subscription Information

To subscribe/unsubscribe or change your email address for the
legislative update, please go to https://www.troa.org/SignIn.asp?chrMessageCode=signin&loginpage=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Etroa%2Eorg%2Femail%2F Default%2Easp If you are a TROA member you will need your membership number to sign in to the site. If
you are NOT a TROA member, and you have not already completed the guest
form and received a customer number, please go to the Guest Form and
provide the requested information on the "Sign Up" page to receive your
customer number before signing in to the site. If you have created a
guest record you will need to go back to the original page and sign in to
the Member/Guest sign in page to complete the process.

If you have questions regarding the content (ONLY) of the update,
please send an email to legis@troa.org (subscriptions and changes will NOT
be processed through this address).

Copyright (c) 2002, The Retired Officers Association (TROA), all rights
reserved. Part or all of this message may be retransmitted for
information purposes, but may not be used for any commercial purpose or in any commercial product, posted on a Web site, or used in any non-TROA
publication (other than that of a TROA affiliate, or a member of The
Military Coalition) without the written permission of TROA. All
retransmissions, postings, and publications of this message must include this notice.

Rhod Charles
Program Specialist
Houston Administrative Office
5425 Polk St G-20
Houston, TX 77023
(713) 767-2027
FAX (713)767-2489

rhod.charles@twc.state.tx.us


Sempers,

Roger

firstsgtmike
11-14-02, 04:44 PM
Since I was not personally affected, I did not pay as much attention to this issue as I possibly should have.

Therefore, I may be wrong. My understanding of it is that if a vet is drawing length of service retirement pay and was eligible for VA disability pay, he was limited to receiving one or the other whichever was higher.

The argument was that if the vet opted for VA benefits, he received nothing for his 20 + years of service. If he opted for length of service retirement pay, he received nothing for his disability.

Is this correct?

If it is, my thought would be that full retirement is after 30 years. That after 20 years you could request transfer to the Fleet Reserve and receive Retainer Pay until your active duty and reserve time equaled 30 years, then you would be Retired.

While received Retainer Pay, you were subject to recall to active duty, while after the 30 year period, it would take an all-out war before you could be recalled.

My take on the situation is that since the vet was disabled, and unfit to be recalled, he should receive the disability pay but NOT the retainer pay. After the 30 year mark, he should receive BOTH the disability pay AND his retirement pay.

I would appreciate some feedback on this.

Semper Fi

wrbones
11-14-02, 10:45 PM
I put in a bit over 6 years, First Sergeant and was medically discharged. In a bit over four years, I would a had thirty in......

I agree with the stips in yer last paragrah. But.....I hadn't even thought of the direction yer takin' this. I was thinkin of folks with twenty-thirthy years in.

I don't know that folks like myself are in the same league, so to speak. I say that out of respect for folks who did the whole thing.

They've been thru a bit more than I and have more experience.

We're all Marines, but still....

On the other hand, I don't need much to live on.


I ain't sayin this at all right. I better quit while I'm still behind. LOL

firstsgtmike
11-15-02, 12:02 AM
Bones,

My position is not cast in concrete, actually, I'm groping around, trying to figure one out. I'm not sure it's worth the effort, because my vote, up or down, yea or nay is not going to affect the outcome one iota.

However, I do have friends who ARE affected, and if I could make some sense out of what is happening, and understand the argument for both sides, I'd be in a better position to help someone who was searching for justification.

There should be some machinery in place for equity. I haven't heard the arguments for and against, but several questions immediately come to mind. (Mind you, these are hypothetical, I AM NOT involved.)

1. I had 22 in going for 30, a nine month boot and I both were totally disabled by the same land mine. Is it fair that we both receive the same compensation? (If VA benefits eliminate retirement benefits.)

2. The 9 month boot says, "The Top had 20+ years of employment, to have and provide for his family, and to put money in the bank. Why should I be condemned to live on half the income he will receive? If I have a family I won't be able to support them. "

3. OR, one of the above goes on to be a computor programmer at $250,000 per year. The other one can only work for minimum wage. He wants to know why they are both receiving the same VA benefits.

4. Time in service, degree of disability, prognosis for recovery, future employability and earning potential, number of dependents, present and future, are some of the factors that must be considered.

I'd need much more imput before I could even BEGIN to participate in a semi-literate discussion on the subject.

I'd prefer to stay out of it if all I could add was " Well, life's not ALWAYS fair, is it?"

Sometimes it is, but we just don't like the call.

P.S. I told you in another post, one reason I stayed in was to amortize boot camp.


Semper Fi

wrbones
11-15-02, 12:45 AM
I'm like you First Sergeant. Concerning your original question. I wouldn't even know where to begin! LOL.