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Benefits for Unemployed Retired Military

benefits

By Debbie Gregory.

The Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Servicemembers or UCX program provides benefits for eligible former military personnel.

With approximately 40,000 active duty service members retiring each year, a significant number of them are in need of employment, who have not yet found work. They may be eligible for UCX based upon the amount of their military retirement pay and the limits in the state in which they are filing. Additionally, former members of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are covered under the program.

While not everyone will qualify, you can guesstimate if you might be eligible by determining the maximum benefit amount in your state and comparing it to the amount of your military retirement pay. If your military retirement pay is near or more than the amount of unemployment benefits for your state, you probably won’t qualify.

In cases where military retirement pay is delayed for some reason, you should be eligible for unemployment in the interim.

If you are actively seeking employment, you can apply in the state where you have applied for unemployment benefits, which is usually the state where you are physically living. This rule may be different than the rules for non-military related unemployment compensation.
You will need your Social Security card, your DD214, a resume, and documentation of your retirement income (Retiree Account Statement.)

If you apply for and receive unemployment benefits, you are usually required to physically remain in the state where you are receiving benefits and search for employment.

If you are unemployed and still have your GI Bill benefits, you may want to consider using the Basic Housing Allowance or BAH to cover your living expenses while you are attending school to attain a degree or learn a vocation.

You might also want to consider the VA’s Veterans Opportunity to Work (VOW). The VOW program extends vocational rehabilitation benefits for twelve (12) months for veterans who’ve completed the VA vocational rehabilitation program and have run out of initial unemployment benefits.

At the end of the day, you have earned these benefits and served our nation. We thank you.

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.

Military Connection: Proposed Changes to Military Retirement

military retirement

By Debbie Gregory.

Current service members are well aware that the military has been taking measures to cut its spending, in light of our nation’s current economic state. Every branch has seen noticeable reductions in force size, with tens of thousands of service members encouraged to enter early retirement or into involuntary separation. Now those who fought to remain in the military may see their retirement benefits reduced as proposals to overhaul the military retirement system mill about our nation’s capital. How will the changes affect those who serve twenty years in the military?

Traditionally, only service members who remain in the military for a full twenty years or more get retirement pensions, medical benefits for themselves and their dependents, as well as other benefits. Exceptions to this policy are those who have a service-related disability, those who received a medical retirement, and those who took the offered early, pro-rated retirement to help force reduction efforts. More than eighty percent of service members don’t meet the requirements for military retirement, and therefore, don’t receive pensions or benefits after they complete their tours of duty.

One of the proposed changes could benefit those who serve and don’t qualify for military retirement, as a proposed new model would offer service members a personal retirement savings account benefit, wherein the government would make annual contributions of up to six percent of their basic pay.

However, this proposed system complicates matters for service members who plan to make a career out of the military and retire with twenty years in. The new system calls for cutting the size of the current pension by twenty percent, an average of over $4,000 per year. To make up for that, the Department of Defense would open 401(k)-style retirement accounts. Funds placed into these accounts will not be available for withdrawal without a tax penalty before the service member reaches age sixty.

The proposed changes to military retirement also effect on when the service member can begin receiving their retirement pension. Under current policy, an individual who enlists at eighteen years old and retires after twenty years can begin collecting their retirement checks as soon as they retire at age thirty-eight. Under the new system, military retirees would have to wait until they are sixty to start receiving retirement pay.

The proposed changes to the retirement system are included in the 2016 defense authorization bill that is moving through Congress. Under that legislation, today’s troops would have about 18 months to make a decision, by 2017, on whether to stick with the old benefit or sign up for the new plan. Let us hope that our elected leaders do what is right when making decisions for our service members. Be sure to contact your representative and senators to make sure that they know how you want them to represent you.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the ArmyNavyAir ForceMarinesCoast Guard,Guard and ReserveVeterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Boardinformation on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Proposed Changes to Military Retirement: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: The Veteran Benefits Debate: By Joe Silva

disabled VetsA congressional auditor’s report found that close to 60,000 Veterans are receiving benefits from three separate government entities … and they are within their legal rights.

The Government Accountability Office report found that these “triple dippers” drew around $3.5 billion between military retirement pay, disability benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Social Security disability compensation.

Most of the recipients received combined benefits of $59,000 per year or less. But approximately 2,300 of these Veterans were in receipt of combined totals of $100,000 or more. The highest payment in 2013 was $208,757 in total benefits!

The permitting of “triple dipping” has caused multiple law makers to call for better coordination among government programs. While not taking away anything that Veterans deserved or have earned through faithful service to their country, they want to find a way to streamline programs.

But those who side with Veterans claim that Veterans are entitled to these payments and concurrent benefits. The argument made is that the Veterans’ retirement pay was earned through years of service in the military, while disability payments are compensation for service-related injuries and wounds; and the two and their compensation should have no effect on the other. In most of these rare cases of “triple dipping,” the Veterans are severely disabled. Approximately four in five Veterans who got triple concurrent payments had a disability rating of at least 50%. And around half of the Veterans receiving triple payments were at least 60% disabled.

Many Americans would find it hard to understand how someone making $86,000 a year in tax-exempt VA income could qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance, when civilian workers are disqualified from the program if they make $13,000 a year. And while politicians and the judging-public zoom in on the $59,000 and $100,000 facts, there is one fact that gets forgotten. With these Veterans being mostly 50% or more disabled, their cost of living goes up tremendously. Even with VA healthcare, there are other lifestyle accommodations that need to be made including modifying their homes and vehicles for their disability.

It wasn’t until after the Sept. 11th attacks that Veterans were allowed to concurrently receive both military retirement pay and Department of Veterans Affairs’ disability benefits. Before that, a Civil War-era statute allowed the Pentagon to dock retirement pay dollar-for-dollar up to the amount of disability benefits from the VA.

Congress changed that law in 2002, restoring military retirement pay to Veterans who were also drawing disability benefits from the VA.  When the bill was being debated, then-Senator John Warner from Virginia presented two questions to his fellow senators:

“How can we ask the men and women who have so faithfully served to sacrifice a portion of their retirement because they are also receiving compensation for an injury suffered while serving their country?”

At the time, Sen. Warner acknowledged that allowing Veterans to receive concurrent benefits would have “significant cost,” but Warner also asked; “Is the cost too high? I think not.”

It appears that twelve and a half years later, all of which was spent at war, politicians and the American public might need to reconsider these questions for our now-disabled Veterans.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: The Veteran Benefits Debate: By Joe Silva