|This page contains information of interest on a variety of topics. The purpose of the page is to highlight, for a short time, significant information. After a period of time, the information is moved to the appropriate topic page, such a Money Matters, Health Matters, or one of the other pages. Some information may also be moved to the U.S. Military Retirees Association Korea area, which contains sub-pages with general information of interest to Korea retirees. If there are no current high-interest items, the page may be blank.|
Medicare Part B Limitations for Korean Spouses and Widows
What this means is that the only medical insurance available to retiree spouses and widows is the Korean medical insurance, but that insurance is not available to spouses who have the A-3 (SOFA) visa. This situation has been confirmed by the Yongsan TRICARE office. Civil service employees have the options of using the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) insurance. The other alternative is commercial international health insurance and the RAO has no recommendations for those who might want to consider this option.
Instead of trying to change the law defining Medicare Part B eligibility (thus affecting all non-resident aliens), a more logical solution would be to continue TRICARE Standard coverage beyond age 65 for those who cannot obtain TRICARE for Life because of Medicare Part B ineligibility. This change would only affect DoD ID card holders eligible for military medical care. However, this will require retirees and their supporters to make their case to the agencies and offices having the ability to make the modification to TRICARE Standard eligibility. If you want it, you'll have to fight for it.
Space Available for Retirees May Change in 2006
2-15-04 A number of retirees live in Korea on a Tourist (C-3) visa. This requires them to leave Korea every 90 days because that is the maximum length of a stay in Korea with this visa. Many retirees depend on the Patriot Express either to fly out themselves or to reduce the demand on other space available assets, particularly intra-theater flights. With the elimination of Patriot Express flights from Korea in 2006, the demand for space available seats will increase for the remaining flights. With retirees being the lowest priority for space available seats, those retirees who rely on space available flights to Japan may find that seats have become virtually non-existent. It's not too early now for retirees with C-3 visas to start considering alternate plans for the day that space available seats may dry up for Category VI travel.
Rule Change Does Not Affect Korea
1-29-04 DoD recently announced that TRICARE beneficiaries no longer need a non-availability statement from their TRICARE office before seeking civilian medical care. This change does not affect retirees and their dependents in Korea. According to the Yongsan TRICARE office, they must still be referred by their local TRICARE office in order to be sure of being reimbursed. Of course, referrals are not required in bona fide emergency cases.
1-29-04 On Feb. 2, an estimated 150,000 military retirees will see an increase in their pay. The National Defense Authorization Act, enacted in November 2003, significantly modified a long-standing law preventing retirees from receiving full retired pay if they also received disability pay from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The new law allows concurrent receipt of military retired pay and VA disability pay for retirees with more than 20 years of service and a disability rating of 50 percent or greater. This restored pay will be phased in over a 10-year period that began on Jan. 1, 2004.
Retirees are not required to take any action to receive the additional pay. The Defense Finance and Accounting Service has already identified eligible retirees and begun making adjustments to their military retired pay.
The first payments are due the first business day of February for the law change that was effective Jan. 1. The additional funds will be paid on Feb. 2, 2004 based on entitlement for Jan. 1-31, 2004. The restored pay is paid on the same schedule as current military retired pay. Recurring payments will be made on the first business day of each month based on entitlement for the prior month.
For the majority of military retirees, the additional money is taxable income and subject to federal tax withholding.
One category of military retirees that is eligible for additional funds but will not be paid on Feb. 2, 2004, are those who receive retired pay based on a disability percentage instead of years of service. Further guidance is needed from the Department of Defense to determine how the law will be applied in these cases. Once guidance is received, payments will be made retroactive to Jan. 1, 2004. An estimated 2,800 military retirees fall into this category. (DFAS News Release, Jan 27)
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Compensation Update for 2004
|Veteran and spouse||2,366||1,458||1,296||1,117||893||709||504||354|
|Veteran with spouse and child||2,458||1,541||1,370||1,182||948||755||541||381|
|Veteran with child only||2,325||1,421||1,263||1,089||868||689||488||341|
|Each addtl child under 18||65||58||53||45||39||32||26||19|
|Each addtl schoolchild over 18||202||181||161||141||121||101||80||60|
|Veteran with one parent||2,342||1,436||1,277||1,101||878||697||495||346|
|Veteran with two parents||2,445||1,528||1,359||1,173||939||748||536||376|
|Addtl aid/attendance for spouse||114||102||91||80||68||57||46||34|
Department of Veterans Affairs Survivor
Compensation for 2004
12-21-03 A widow whose husband's death was determined to be service-connected is eligible to receive the VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC). In 2004, the DIC is $967 per month. If at the time of the veteran's death the veteran was in receipt of or entitled to disability compensation rated as totally disabling for a continuous period of eight years and the widow was married to the veteran for the same eight years, the widow is entitled to an additional $208 per month. For each child under 18, an additional $241 per month is allowed. If the widow is entitled to Aid & Attendance, this allowance is $241. If the widow is housebound, a Housebound allowance of $115 per month is provided. These rates apply to widows when the veteran's death occurred on or after Jan 1, 1993. For information on rates prior to Jan 1, 1993, go to http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/Rates/comp03.htm.
Widows not eligible to receive DIC may be eligible for the Improved Death Pension of $552 per month (in 2004). This allowance is subject to income limitations. For more information about additional entitlements with this pension, go to http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/rates/pen02.htm.
Divorce and VA Disability Compensation
12-21-03 Military retirees who receive part of their retired pay as disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) may find their pay threatened by divorce action. A supreme court ruling noted that state courts only have jurisdiction on pay as permitted by the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA). Disability benefits are specifically not divisible by the USFSPA. Combat-Related Special Compensation is categorized as special pay resulting from disability and is treated the same as disability pay, i.e., it cannot be divided. Concurrent Receipt is considered the same as retired pay and can be divided.
Road to Concurrent Receipt
12-13-03 A scripted briefing on implementation of Concurrent Receipt (restoring retired pay that has been offset by disability pay) is available as an on-screen presentation or downloadable as a PowerPoint presentation (395KB PPT, right click to save). A one-page handout comparing Combat-Related Special Compensation and the 10-year phase in of Concurrent Receipt is available in Adobe Acrobat format < (50KB PDF) or in Microsoft Word format (173KB DOC).
Medicare Part B Late Enrollment Penalty Waived
12-13-03 TRICARE for Life requires that military retirees be enrolled in Medicare Part B when they reach age 65. Some over-65 retirees were subject to a late enrollment penalty (10% per year for each missed year) when they signed up for Medicare Part B to qualify for TRICARE for Life. The new Medicare Prescription Bill removes the late enrollment penalty for those who signed up in 2001-2003. Also, there is a one-year open enrollment period for over-65 military retirees to sign up for Medicare Part B without the late enrollment penalty. The monthly cost for Part B in 2004 is $66.
Retiree Activities Office at New Location
Legislators Announce Concurrent Receipt Deal
The proposal will benefit as many as 200,000 disabled retirees in two ways:
In both cases, Guard and Reserve retirees with 20 qualifying years of service (including those with less than 7,200 retirement points) will be eligible.
CRSC payments are in the amount of the VA disability compensation paid for whatever percentage of the members disability rating is due to combat-related disabilities, as determined by the parent service. Retirees must apply to their parent service for CRSC payments, but there is no phase-in period for CRSC. DoD is discouraging all those not currently eligible for CRSC from applying until this provision is signed into law.
Disabled retirees rated
50% and higher who do not elect CRSC payments should start seeing their retired
offset phased out automatically, starting January 1, 2004. No application is
expected to be required. For 2004, qualifying retirees should see their retired
pay increase by a flat amount, depending on disability, as follows:
$750 for 100% disabled;
$500 for 90%;
$350 for 80%;
$250 for 70%;
$125 for 60%; and
100 for 50%.
The remaining retired pay
offsets would then be phased out over the following nine years. In 2005, they
would get back another 10% of any remaining offset; in 2006, they would get back
20% of the remaining offset; in 2007, 30% of the remaining offset; and so on. By
January 2014, disabled retirees with 50% and higher ratings will be entitled to
full concurrent receipt of military retired pay and VA disability compensation.
Disabled retirees who
qualify for both programs would have to choose one or the other. Because the
CRSC program provides full payment immediately vs. the 10-year phase-in for
concurrent receipt, legislators plan to allow an annual election option for
CRSC-eligibles. This recognizes that a retiree who is 100% disabled, but only
60% of that is due to combat-related conditions, may find it advantageous to
elect full CRSC payments for a few years until the concurrent receipt payment
rises to a level that exceeds the CRSC payment. Because CRSC payments are
tax-free and nondisability retired pay is not, this could also figure into
qualifying retirees election decisions.
procedures for retirees to make such elections is but one of the many
administrative challenges the Defense Department will have to address in
implementing the new authority.
The new agreement also calls for the formation of a special commission to review the VA disability system and recommend any needed changes. Of its 13 commissioners, at least seven will have to be highly decorated veterans. Four will be appointed by the House, four by the Senate, and five by the Pentagon and/or the VA. (MOAA Legislative Update, Oct 16)
MyPay Fraudulent Site
10-5-03 All personnel are warned to beware of a site called www.mypay.com. This is a bogus site that is attempting to get you to enter personal information which could be used for identity theft. The correct site for the Defense Finance and Accounting Service is via secure connection to https://mypay.dfas.mil
Main Gate Closed for Renovation
Retiree Mailing Ban to Be
Lifted for Prescription Orders