RAO Davao City

United States Military Retiree Activities Office Davao City, Philippines

DOD VET BETRAYAL CLAIM September 14, 2008

Posted by Service Officer on September 14th, 2008

In a letter sent to members of Congress in early SEP, the directors of two major veterans’ groups say the Pentagon’s personnel chief has intentionally withheld benefits from wounded service members. “We need your immediate assistance to help end the Defense Department’s deliberate, systemic betrayal of every brave American who [dons] the uniform and stands in harm’s way,” states the letter, signed by David Gorman, executive director of Disabled American Veterans (DAV), and Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). “Sadly, the 2007 Walter Reed scandal, which resulted mostly from poor oversight and inadequate leadership, pales in comparison to what we view as the deliberate manipulation of the law” by David S.C. Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, and his deputies, the letter states.

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CRDP UPDATE September 14, 2008

Posted by Service Officer on September 14th, 2008

As previously reported, last year’s National Defense Authorization Act authorized full, immediate concurrent receipt for disabled retirees rated as “Individually Unemployable” (IU) by the VA. The provision takes effect 1 OCT 08 with payment retroactive to 1 JAN 05. It is estimated that 50,000 are eligible to receive these increased payment amounts. According to Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS), the increase in IU payment will come in the November check. DFAS says, “Retirees will not need to take any action in order to receive this increased benefit amount. The Defense Finance and Accounting Service receives this information from the DVA [Department of Veterans' Affairs] on a regular basis.” In recent contact with DFAS, we are told that the retroactive payment is being worked out. While there is no clear timeline for these back-payments, DFAS informs us that a lump sum payment will be made once the calculation of individual payments is final.

To qualify for the CRDP entitlement, the retiree must have 20 years of service or retired under Temporary Early Retirement Authority (TERA), must be in receipt of retired pay, in receipt of DVA compensation, rated 50 percent or higher by the DVA. Those rated by the DVA as IU, are compensated at the 100 percent rate in accordance with the DVA disability compensation basic rates. Payment is not a separate payment but reduces the dollar for dollar offset that retiree’s give up for every dollar they receive from the DVA. This will eliminate the offset and give retirees in this category all of their retired pay, and they will continue to receive the DVA compensation as they have been all along. In addition, to receive the additional compensation amount, the retiree must be receiving compensation at a disability rating not less than 60 percent and be rated IU. Additional information can be found at the DFAS site: DFAS-IU Information. [Source: NAUS Weekly Update 5 Sep 08 ++]

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GREYHOUND MILITARY DISCOUNT September 14, 2008

Posted by Service Officer on September 14th, 2008

Greyhound Bus Company is offering a fare discount to active duty and retired military personnel and their family members. The offer is a 10% discount off the Greyhound walk-up (unrestricted) fare and a maximum fare of $198 round trip anywhere in the continental U.S. The following terms apply:

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MILITARY COMPENSATION REVIEW UPDATE September 14, 2008

Posted by Service Officer on September 14th, 2008

The new report of the Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation (QRMC) proposes a number of changes in military pay and benefits. Under the law, the Defense Department must conduct a QRMC every four years. MOAA previously addressed concerns about the QRMC’s proposed changes in the military retirement system (refer to “Purposes and Pitfalls of Retirement Reform” at www.moaa.org/lac/lac_asiseeit/lac_asiseeit_2008/lac_asiseeit_080813.htm). Now they have provided an assessment of the QRMC health care recommendations. The Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) is in agreement with proposals to stress preventive care by removing copays and deductibles for procedures and medications that are intended to guard against health problems, including colonoscopies, mammograms, and medications intended to control chronic conditions such as diabetes. Similarly, they think the QRMC is on the right track in outlining a variety of initiatives to improve recruiting and retention of the full spectrum of military medical professions and expand contract, reimbursement, and other options to attract the needed level of civilian providers to meet the military community’s needs. But they have a pretty big hiccup on QRMC proposals to:

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NDAA 2009 UPDATE September 14, 2008

Posted by Service Officer on September 14th, 2008

The Senate returned to work and took up consideration of the cloture motion to proceed to S.3001, the DoD Authorization bill on 8 SEP. Two hours later they proceeded to a roll call vote on the Motion to invoke Cloture which was approved 83-0 allowing the Senate to move to debate on this bill. Cloture is a procedural vote to limit debate and force a vote on a particular issue. It prevents excessive discussion of an issue (called filibustering or talk-a-thon). Three-fifths of all senators (sixty if there are no vacancies) must vote for the motion for cloture for it to be invoked. Once cloture is invoked, the Senate must take final action on the issue by the end of the thirty hours of consideration and may consider no other business until it takes that action. Each senator may speak for a total of no more than one hour. Senators may yield all or part of their hour to one of the floor managers or floor leaders that may in turn yield that time to other senators, but each manager and leader may be yielded no more than two hours. No delaying amendments or motions are allowed, and all debate and amendments must be relative to the debate. Only amendments filed before the cloture vote may be considered; no new amendments may be offered. No senator may call up more than two amendments until every other senator has had an opportunity to do so.

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NATIONAL GUARD BENEFITS September 14, 2008

Posted by Service Officer on September 14th, 2008

Currently, enlistees may be eligible for up to a $20,000 cash signing bonus for select careers and up to $32,000 for your college education through the Montgomery G.I. Bill and other incentive programs. The Guard offers many federal benefits/entitlements to their unit members and their families such as the Base Exchange, Commissary, use of Morale Welfare And Recreation facilities, and up to $400,000 life insurance at reduced rates. Members can also take advantage of Tricare Reserve Select Health Insurance and Tricare Dental. Both of these Health Insurance programs offer low cost premiums that round out the benefits necessary for families to maintain good health. Federal education benefits through the Montgomery G.I. Bill are available to most unit members provided they enlist for 6 years. These benefits are available to members after completion of basic training and technical school. This program is a non-contributory benefit, meaning no payment or reduction in pay is required to receive these benefits. Federal benefits received: Montgomery GI Bill chapter 1606; up to $317 per month to offset college cost of attending college fulltime. Other Education Benefits for members enlisting for six years in a critical skills job are: Montgomery GI Bill kicker up to $350 per month for full-time college enrollment, Student loan repayment program; up to $20,000 paid throughout enlistment. If you have prior military service and elected the active duty MGIB, you may still take advantage of this benefit up to a maximum of 48 months of combined benefits at the full-time rate. In addition to the federal benefits listed above, each state may offer additional benefits for their members such as: up to 100% tuition assistance, state tax deferment, and reduced auto license fees. Some of these benefits extend to member’s families. To search for benefits by state refer to www.goang.com/benefits/. For more information refer to:

• Army Guard: www.1-800-GO-GUARD.com

• Air Guard: site is www.GOANG.com

• Coast Guard Reserve: http://www.gocoastguard.com

• Marine Corps Reserve: http://www.marforres.usmc.mil/join/Bonus.asp

• Navy Reserve: http://www.navyreserve.com/?campaign=Reprise_YahooPI_Homepage_Homepage_Text

[Source: NGAUS Leg Up 5 Sep 08 ++]

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MEDICARE PART B NON-ENROLLMENT September 14, 2008

Posted by Service Officer on September 14th, 2008

Tricare beneficiaries who qualify for Medicare Part A will automatically be enrolled in Medicare Part B at an increased marginal cost unless declined by the beneficiary. However, subject to the exceptions noted below, the consequences for declining Medicare B can be potentially disastrous, as Tricare can pay nothing for care while a beneficiary is eligible for Medicare Part A unless the beneficiary also has Medicare Part B coverage. Tricare will also recoup any benefit payments made to physicians for a disqualified beneficiary for the period that the beneficiary was eligible for Medicare Part A but declined Medicare Part B. The same consequence would apply to Tricare beneficiaries who are awarded two years or more of retroactive Medicare Part A coverage because of a Social Security disability award but decline the option to take Medicare Part B for the period of retroactive Medicare Part A coverage. Any payments made to physicians during a period of retroactive Medicare Part A coverage for which Medicare Part B is declined will be recouped by Tricare.

The mandatory Medicare Part B enrolment rule does not apply if the beneficiary has an active duty sponsor, is enrolled in the US Family Health Plan, or is covered under Tricare Reserve Select. Tricare beneficiaries who are changing Tricare coverage, such as those switching to Tricare for Life and those Tricare beneficiaries with potentially successful Social Security claims should particularly take heed of the Medicare Part B requirement if they want to continue Tricare coverage. The clear message from Tricare Management Activity to Tricare beneficiaries covered by Medicare Part A is that if they decline Medicare Part B coverage, they do so at their peril as this could terminate Tricare payments of claims. It is possible to later enroll in Medicare Part B for those who decline the initial coverage but substantial penalties could apply. Questions on this requirement should be directed to your Tricare contractor. You can also visit the Tricare website for your region or program as follows.

• North Region: www.healthnetfederalservices.com

• West Region: www.triwest.com

• South Region: www.humana-military.com

• Tricare for Life: www.tricare-4u.com

[Source: NGAUS Leg Up 5 Sep 08 ++]

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VA RETRO PAY PROJECT UPDATE 2 September 14, 2008

Posted by Service Officer on September 14th, 2008

The Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax Act of 2008, signed into law on 17 JUN 08, changed the federal income tax filing deadlines and the length of the look-back period for amended tax returns when retirees are affected by a retroactive VA disability compensation determination. Amended tax returns usually are required when you have paid income taxes on past retirement income that later becomes tax-free income as a result of the award of retro-VA compensation. For retro-VA compensation determinations as of 18 JUN 08 or later, retirees have up to one year to file their amended return from the date of the VA determination. The retiree now can amend tax returns going back five years. It used to be a three-year look-back. There also is a transition period allowed in the tax code change. For retro-VA compensation determinations from 1 JAN 01 through 17 JUN 08, retirees have until 17 JUN 09 to file amended returns for tax refunds for tax years 2001 to the present. Consult your tax specialist for more detailed information about how these changes affect you. Refer to H.R. 6081, Section 106, which amends the IRS Tax Code Section 6511(d) by adding a new paragraph (8). For a technical explanation of H.R. 6081 on the House of Representative’s Web site refer to www.house.gov/jct/x-44-08.pdf. additional reference can be located at www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h110-6081 and

frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=110_cong_bills&docid=f:h6081enr.txt.pdf . [Source: MOAA News Exchange 10 Sep 08 ++]

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VA RETRO PAY PROJECT UPDATE 1 September 14, 2008

Posted by Service Officer on September 14th, 2008

In SEP 06 the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (DVA) identified more than 133,000 recipients of Combat Related Special Compensation (CRSC) or Concurrent Retired Disability Payment (CRDP) potentially eligible for additional retroactive compensation. Since then the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) in coordination with the DVA have processed all of the original cases as of 8 JUN 08. Throughout the project DVA identified additional retirees that were prospectively eligible for retroactive payments. The agency also resubmitted accounts, from the original 133,000, for potential supplementary entitlements. Those accounts, classified as “new and returning,” were processed as of 29 JUN 08. Those people identified with potential eligibility for retroactive payment after JAN 08, were placed in a category referred to as “On-Going.” The On-Going category documents the most recently received new and returning VA Retro cases. Those accounts as of 20 JUL 08, have been processed. To date a total of more than 230,000 accounts have been processed. Going forward, plans are to process all incoming claims within 30 days. While certain accounts may have received payment from DFAS, you may also be eligible for payment from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (DVA). Once your account has been processed at DFAS, the information is forwarded to the DVA for additional validation and possible payment. There may often be a lapse of time between the payments from the two different agencies. Questions concerning the VA can be addressed by calling 1-800-827-1000. [Source: DFAS http://www.dfas.mil/retiredpay/retroactivepayment.html 5 Sep 08 ++]

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TRDP UPDATE September 14, 2008

Posted by Service Officer on September 14th, 2008

An upcoming change to Tricare soon could give military retirees living overseas reason to smile. Beginning 1 OCT, those retirees will have access to the Tricare Retiree Dental Program (TRDP) insurance benefits that have been previously unavailable outside the United States, Tricare officials said in an e-mail to Stars and Stripes on 5 SEP. Jeff Album, spokesman for Delta Dental, the California-based contractor that handles Tricare’s dental coverage, said the company expects about 14,000 of the 35,000 eligible retirees to take advantage of the optional program in its first year. While the change is good news for many, it might not be cost-effective for every retiree living overseas, said Ed Chan, the Tricare Pacific director. For instance, out-of-pocket expenses for dental care in the Philippines are generally much less than monthly insurance premiums, he said. “In some cases, they may not get back what they paid into it,” he said. In South Korea and Japan, he said, retirees might have national insurance if they’re married to citizens of those countries, which includes some dental coverage. In some places in Japan and Okinawa, officials say, retirees can receive free space-available care on base. Retirees in South Korea have very limited on-post care. They are authorized emergency care and can get cleanings during special events such as retiree appreciation days and noncombatant evacuation exercises, said Chris Vaia, chairman of the retiree counsel at Yongsan Garrison in Seoul.

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