Sunday, December 29, 2013

Military Monday and the Bipartisan Deal

Welcome to another Military Monday Upon marrying a military man I learned that there is a LOT to know about life as a military spouse. Mondays are my day to talk about the things I am learning, the new language, military news and current events. Ready? Lets jump in. 

I took a bit of a break over the month of December but I am back at it and ready to go. Today I want to tackle the Bipartisan Budget Agreement that President Obama signed the day after Christmas. If you are retired military, active military, or a military spouse this is important, so pay attention! This is something we should all be paying attention to. I have broken it up into two sections, the official word and a translation that normal people can actually understand. The official word is taken from the House Budget Committee webpage and is in green. The translation is from a CNN opinion piece by military spouse, Rebekah Sanderlin and is in purple 

Here is what the official answer prepared by the House Budget Committee majority staff.
The federal government has no greater obligation than to keep the American people safe. And it must take care of the men and women in uniform who put their lives on the line. To meet our obligations to our service men and women, we must make sure their long-term benefits are on a sound, financial footing. Doing so would not only strengthen their retirement security, but also free up more resources for today’s national-security priorities. Rising personnel costs are a growing problem in the defense budget, with the real compensation cost per service member up 41 percent since 2001. The budget agreement makes a modest adjustment to the cost-of-living adjustment for working-age military retirees. And though there will be slightly lower increases in annual retired pay for young retirees, the budget ensures that when they reach normal retirement age, they will receive a catch-up adjustment. And from then on, their benefit will be fully protected from inflation.... (it then tells you to click here to fully understand how this will impact military members, I saved you the time and just copied the next portion here as well.)Generally, military-service members who have completed 20 years of service (regardless of age) are eligible for non-disability retirement—and with it, immediate retired pay. For most, retired pay is a percentage of the highest 36 months of the service member’s basic pay. A service member who retires after 20 years of service receives 50 percent of his or her high-three basic pay with the percentage increasing in 2.5 percent increments for each year above 20. Because service members can retire well before the normal retirement age in the private sector, most begin a second career after leaving the military. The budget agreement provides for a lower annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for inflation (as measured by the Consumer Price Index). The COLA would be inflation minus 1 percentage point starting with the adjustment in December 2015—until the retiree reaches age 62. At age 62, the retired pay would be calculated as if each prior year’s COLA had been the full CPI. And after age 62, the COLA itself would be the full CPI. This modest reduction to retired pay for younger retirees will reduce the deficit by approximately $6 billion over the next ten years while still fully protecting retirees from inflation over the long-term.
And here is Rebekah Sanderlin's explination:
...We learned the Ryan-Murray bipartisan budget deal would cut pension cost-of-living raises by 1 percentage point for retirees who aren't disabled and not yet 62. The compounding effect is what would hurt. A 1 percentage point cut could result in much more than a 20% cut in retiree pension over the course of 20 years. This means military retirees will, on average, lose between $83,000 and $124,000 each from the pensions they were promised. 
These so-called "working-age retirees" are exactly the same troops who were given these promises in exchange for fighting the longest war in our nation's history, and who received repeated assurances from President Barack Obama and others that any changes to their pensions would affect only those just entering service, not those who have already served. 
This is a big deal to not only people who will sign up for a career in the service but for those who already signed an agreement to defend our nation. This is what was quietly being slipped into act while everyone was arguing over Duck Dynasty at Christmas dinner. We need to pay attention and be aware of what our leaders are doing, quietly when they think no one is watching. 

You can read the rest of Rebekah Sanderlin's fantastic article here.
You can read the the House of Representatives Committee on the Budget information here

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