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Veterans Identification Card, Courtesy of Office Depot?

id card

By Debbie Gregory.

The Veterans Identification Card Act of 2015 was enacted so that veterans who weren’t entitled to military retired pay nor enrolled in the VA health-care system could prove their veteran status without having to carry their DD214s.

As the Department of Veterans Affairs prepares to accept applications for the new cards in November, questions remain: will veterans need cellphone contracts in order to enter an online national registry, a step that must be completed before they can even apply for the cards? Will the VA enter into sponsorships with private companies to produce the cards? Will the cards carry corporate logos on them?

But probably the most confusing part of the act is the stipulation that the VA must issue hard-copy photo IDs to any veteran who applies and pays a fee. The law does not stipulate that an honorable discharge is required. So will the ID cards be available to veterans with bad paper discharges? Because when the VA begins accepting applications for the cards in November, veterans with less-than-honorable discharges will not be eligible to apply.

Wait, what?

According to VA Press Secretary Curt Cashour, “Only those Veterans with honorable service will be eligible for the ID card.”

Apparently, only veterans with honorable discharges are eligible to register for and receive an ID during the first phase. Perhaps future phases will be more inclusive. Who knows? And apparently, the ID card will be brought to veterans courtesy of Office Depot!

AMVETS has tweeted images of the new ID card, which carries an Office Depot logo on the back, along with “Saluting you today and every day. Thanks for taking care of business.”

Cashour said that Office Depot is absorbing the cost of making the cards, so that veterans can receive them without having to pay for them.

To apply for one of the new ID cards, you will need to apply online, although the specific website has not been announced. You must also register with Vets.gov, a website that authorizes users through third-party verification company ID.me, to support identity and authentication.

Facts About Social Security and Your Military Service

retirement

By Debbie Gregory.

Did you know you can receive both Social Security benefits and military retirement? Under most circumstances, there is no reduction of Social Security benefits because of your military retirement benefits. You’ll get your full Social Security benefit based on your earnings.

Since 1957, if you had military service earnings for active duty (including active duty for training), you paid Social Security taxes on those earnings. Since 1988, inactive duty service in the Armed Forces reserves (such as weekend drills) has also been covered by Social Security. If you served in the military before 1957, you did not pay Social Security taxes, but you are given special credit for some of your service.

During your service, you pay Social Security taxes just the same as civilians do. In order to qualify for benefits, you must have worked and paid Social Security taxes for at least ten years, including your civilian employment.

Your benefit amount depends on your earnings, averaged over your working lifetime. So, for the most part, the higher your earnings, the higher your Social Security benefit will be.

When you apply for Social Security benefits, you will be asked for proof of your military service (DD Form 214) or information about your reserve or National Guard service. In addition to providing retirement benefits, Social Security benefits are paid out to you and your family if you become disabled. Social Security pays survivors benefits to your family when you die.

While you can retire as early as age 62, your Social Security benefits will be permanently reduced. If you delay applying for benefits until your full retirement age, you can work and still get some Social Security benefits, but when you reach your full retirement age, you can get all of your Social Security benefits regardless of your income.

For more information, visit Social Security online or call the Social Security office toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. The TTY number for the deaf and hard of hearing is 800-325-0778.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.