Monday, October 20, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

New ‘fix’ for COLA divides disabled retirees

By
From page B10 | January 19, 2014 |

Congress has rushed to protect the medically retired and survivor benefit recipients from the cap on annual cost-of-living adjustments it approved only a few weeks ago for all “working age” military retirees.

The lightning quick “COLA fix,” part of a massive “omnibus” funding bill for 12 federal departments, still leaves most military retirees under age 62 with future COLAs trimmed by 1 percent below the annual inflation rate, an erosion of retirement value set to begin in January 2016.

The fix also creates a disparity in COLA protection between separate groups of disabled retirees, critics contend. It won’t affect retirees with conditions diagnosed and rated in service, even if the rating is as low as 0 or 10 percent for those with 20 or more years served.

Full COLAs are being restored for anyone medically retired, so-called Chapter 61 retirees.

The COLA cap remains for retirees under 62 whose service-connected disability ratings came later from the Department of Veterans Affairs. These VA-rated disabled retirees will continue to receive full COLAs on disability compensation, but COLAs would be on any military retired pay they draw. Only in the past decade did Congress phase out a long-time ban on “concurrent receipt” of both payments for many disabled retirees.

Retired Army Lt. Col. Michael Parker, an advocate for disabled retirees, said the COLA disparity from the quick fix in the omnibus bill would create “huge inequities.” He gave a few examples.

“A fully employable Chapter 61 disability retiree rated at 0 percent by (the Department of Defense),” which occurs when a condition is recognized but not compensable, “will not be subject to COLA reduction,” Parker said.

Yet, an unemployable length-of-service retiree rated by VA, even if rated 100-percent disabled, would see the COLA cap impact their retired pay.

So would a length-of-service retiree who sustains a severe nonservice-connected disability in retirement, for example, if paralyzed in a car crash, Parker said.

Influential lawmakers, urged by military associations and veterans groups, are still promising to roll back the COLA cap for all retirees before it is to begin in two more years. Still to be determined is whether the quick fix to protect the medically retired takes critical wind out of those sails.

Obstacles to full repeal include support for the COLA cap from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., chairman of the House Budget Committee, and lower profile lawmakers from both parties who see restoring this trim to military retirement as less critical than other budget needs such weapon modernization programs, avoiding higher taxes on the wealthy or protecting other federal entitlements and assistance programs for the young, the poor and the aged.

Bitter disagreement between Republicans and Democrats also remains likely about how to pay for full repeal of the retiree COLA cap.

The cost of cap relief for the medically retired and survivors is $573 million across 10 years. House-Senate negotiators on the omnibus bill didn’t worry about finding offsets for those lost savings because no retirement dollars would be saved before 2016 anyway, said an appropriations committee staff member.

But full repeal to protect all retirees under 62 would slice another $5.7 billion from the bipartisan budget deal struck last month between Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.

Those dollars will have to be offset, either through entitlement cuts, by raising taxes or a combination. Will enough members of Congress agree to such a compromise or does the majority silently side with Ryan that military retirement, designed in an earlier era, is too generous and costly to sustain?

Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, in announcing omnibus bill details, said targeted COLA cap relief was a priority for her and her House counterpart, Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky.

“We were deeply concerned about the cost-of-living issue related to military retirees of working age who were disabled or were survivors. . . . The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014 fixes that problem. It is limited in scope (to) the neediest of the needy,” Mikulski said.

She didn’t say she supports full COLA cap repeal, only that she hopes the ongoing Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission will recommend a more “comprehensive approach” to reform.

One of many lawmakers who say the omnibus COLA fix “doesn’t go far enough,” is Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

In December he introduced H.R. 3790, a bill to repeal the COLA cap for all military retirees. Seven House colleagues and four senators have introduced nearly identical bills, though some of them suggest offsets to pay for it that members of the other party openly reject.

Miller’s bill has 107 co-sponsors, including 37 Democrats, in part because he doesn’t include a way to pay for full COLA cap repeal.

“The bill was intentionally left without offsets to garner united support,” Miller said. Given widespread bipartisan support, he said, “we are hopeful Democrats and Republicans can (agree on how) to pay for the bill.”

The fight over COLAs won’t end until fully restored for all retirees, said retired Air Force Col. Mike Hayden, director of government relations for Military Officers Association of America.

“This breach of faith is impacting the morale of those currently serving,” he said.

Retired senior officers are divided on the matter, however.

Several retired four-stars including former Marine Commandant Gen. James L. Jones, former deputy commander of U.S. European Command Gen. Chuck Wald and former commander of U.S. Naval Forces, Europe, Adm. Gregory Johnson, all of them members of the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C., said last month they support the COLA cap.

In a written statement, these officers joined with retired Marine Maj. Gen. Arnold Punaro, a long-time proponent of retirement reform, in blaming rising personnel costs for “starting to crowd out other important investments that support training, readiness and modernization. This plan is an important first step in tackling those costs.”

Send comments to Military Update, P.O. Box 231111, Centreville, VA, 20120, email milupdate@aol.com or tweet @Military_Update.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Rich GiddensJanuary 19, 2014 - 8:47 am

    Sounds like some of those retired flag officers need to be tarred and feathered. Severious Caesar said it best---''stick together and always pay the army, nothing else matters''. All that said, Congress should cut its insane treasonous spending on global warming and catering to illegal alien underclass demands for unearned entitlements-----that's much more then the 6 billion they want to save by giving the disabled vets short shrift. All of this sounds like something to bark at Garamendi about. Cry havoc, and unleash the dogs of war!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

Girl Scouts explore sweet side of chemistry

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Time again for my Cheers and Jeers

By Tony Wade | From Page: A2, 4 Comments

Total Home, Garden & Harvest Festival wraps up

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: A3, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Pumpkin Patch Festival set for final weekend

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: A3

 
Sessions teach about child support process

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: A3

Arrivederci! Italian Festival

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Red Kettle Program returns for holidays

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: A3, 1 Comment

Holiday Fashion Extravaganza registration deadline looms

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: A3

 
Elder depression and substance abuse topic of discussion

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: A3

Vacaville library to host composting series

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: A3

 
Senior Center hosts monthly travel presentation

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: A3

Napa man jailed for running over ex-girlfriend

By Staff and wire reports | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
Local governments schedule meetings

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: A4

Weather for Monday, Oct. 20, 2014

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B12

 
.

US / World

Expelled Nazis paid millions in Social Security

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Cruise ship docks with Ebola-watched health worker

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Friends, family of Ebola patient reach milestone

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Obama switches gears, confronting Ebola head on

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

CDC to revise Ebola protocol, Pentagon preps team

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
California lottery sales top $5B for first time

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Archaeologists seek movie set in California sands

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
The 10 semifinalists for World’s Funniest Person

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

On the road to find the world’s funniest person

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
New England raking in millions from leaf peepers

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Police hunt for clues near where Va. remains found

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Super drunk woman arrested, mistook jail for bar

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Robotic device helps paralyzed groom walk aisle

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Coroner: 6 fire victims died of smoke inhalation

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Pope beatifies Paul VI at remarkable synod’s end

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
S. Korea: 2 Koreas exchange gunfire along border

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Sweden: 3 credible sightings in submarine search

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
5 Things to Know about Pope Paul VI

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

UN says Iraq has executed 60 people this year

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Marine accused in Philippine killing tests US ties

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

.

Opinion

Is it truly affordable health care?

By Jim Mccully | From Page: A8, 3 Comments

 
Suisun mayor offers his endorsements

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 3 Comments

Which candidates support Alzheimer’s cure?

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
Beware a Trojan horse

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 4 Comments

Pulse poll question

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

 
.

Living

Community Calendar: Oct. 20, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in History: Oct. 20, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

I’m too scared to leave my abusive husband of 15 years

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B5

 
Horoscopes: Oct. 20, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

 
Horoscopes: Oct. 21, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B7

.

Entertainment

TVGrid Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A10

 
TVGrid Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

Comedians honor Jay Leno with humor prize in DC

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
Report: Nashville songwriter Paul Craft dies at 76

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

Reported ‘Easy Rider’ chopper sells at auction

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
‘New Girl,’ ‘Cosmos’ win Environmental Media Award

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

‘Letterman’ cue card man fired for colleague clash

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
‘Fury’ blasts ‘Gone Girl’ from top of box office

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

.

Sports

Manning breaks Favre’s TD mark in 42-17 win over 49ers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Tim Lincecum waits his turn, still yet to pitch

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Keselowski keeps title hopes alive at Talladega

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Palmer leads Cardinals past Raiders 24-13

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Kings pick up G Ben McLemore’s option

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Rockets beat Warriors 90-83 in exhibition game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Pacquiao makes professional basketball debut

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Cal receiver Trevor Davis released from hospital

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Sounders rally for 2-2 tie with LA Galaxy

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Rangers net 2 in 4 seconds; Lundqvist stops Sharks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

NFL roundup: Jaguars bounce Browns, gets first win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
SEC is 1st conference to put 4 in top 5 of AP poll

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Ski champ Svindal injured while playing soccer

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Serena Williams hits back at Russian official

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

This date in sports history for Monday, Oct. 20, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Royals dependent on 3-headed bullpen monster

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
Hend wins Hong Kong Open in a playoff

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

Baek wins playoff to take LPGA South Korea

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
Ilonen beats Stenson in World Match Play final

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

Jay Haas wins Greater Hickory Kia Classic

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
Ben Martin wins 1st PGA Tour title in Las Vegas

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

Denkinger’s miss revisited as Series returns to KC

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9 | Gallery

 
.

Business

Facebook, Apple pay for egg freezing, sperm donors

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
.

Obituaries

.

Comics

B.C. Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Peanuts Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baby Blues Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Rose is Rose Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Dilbert Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Frank and Ernest Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Get Fuzzy Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Pickles Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Garfield October 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Sally Forth Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baldo Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Beetle Bailey Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Zits Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Blondie Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Wizard of Id Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
For Better or Worse Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Bridge Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Cryptoquote Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Crossword Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Word Sleuth Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Sudoku Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Dilbert Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Beetle Bailey Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
B.C. Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Frank and Ernest Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Blondie Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Garfield Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Get Fuzzy Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Baldo Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Pickles Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Rose is Rose Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Baby Blues Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

For Better or Worse Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Sally Forth Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Zits Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Wizard of Id Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Peanuts Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Bridge Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Sudoku Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Crossword Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Word Sleuth Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Cryptoquote Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7