Spouse and Surviving Spouse Chapter Member Newsletter - May 2016 Issue

PLEASE SHARE THIS NEWSLETTER WITH ALL MOAA CHAPTER MEMBER SPOUSES!

Storming The Hill

 

The Maryland MOAA contingent of member officers and spouses from several Maryland Congressional districts participated in "Storming the Hill" activities from April 11th-April 14th, 2016.  The actual "Storming" took place on Wednesday, April 13th.  Our officers visited with all 8 Maryland Representatives and 2 Senators (or their staffers) and educated them on the merits of major issues, to include MOAA's rationale for not raising fees for many of our medical costs: TRICARE, TRICARE for Life (TFL), and drug copays.  Our MOAA members also presented fact sheets and spoke about the unfair Federal Government existing law pertaining to SBP/DIC offset (also known as the "Widow's Tax").  Many of these members/staffers did not fully understand the implications of SBP/DIC and were pleased to receive the fact sheets.  According to General Dana T. Atkins, MOAA President and CEO, the advocacy effort on Capitol Hill provided a "huge boost" to MOAA's legislative agenda.  There has been a 16% overall increase in cosponsoring related to the SBP-DIC offset, and that is likely to grow. 

Spouses and surviving spouses were briefed about several other issues of interest the following morning (Thursday).  The Federal Government would like to combine TRICARE Standard and TRICARE Prime--similar to the system for Federal Government Civil Service employees.  This would cost Uniformed Service retirees/spouses more money. 

We can not let that happen.  TRICARE for Life Issues: Do NOT purchase any Medical supplement.  TFL already is a MEDICARE SUPPLEMENT.  DO NOT PAY extra for any medical supplement!  Should you be asked for payment, just show your Medicare card.  It is strongly recommended that you SUSPEND your employer plan, if you are still working and are enrolled in TFL.  MOAA recommends that you use USAA advisors for financial advice---do NOT work with a private financial firm and don't share your finances with private firms. They will offer many services for free, but, frequently try to sell you a service or product that you don't need. The MOAA Transition Center (Capt. Jim Carmen) and Member Service Center (ask for Lt Col Shane Ostrom) offer financial education, legislative benefit updates, strategic money methods, and financial planning and advice on investments.

Legislative Actions in Process--

House Actions Related to Retirees:

H.R. 303.  The Retired Pay Restoration Act permits additional members of the Armed Forces who have service-connected disabilities to receive both disability compensation from the VA for their disability and either retired pay or Combat-Related Special Compensation.

H.R. 333.  The Disabled Veterans' Tax Termination Act permits retired members of the Armed Forces who have service-connected disability rated less than 50% to receive concurrent payment of both retired pay and veterans' disability compensation.  It eliminates the phase-in period for concurrent receipt, and extends eligibility for concurrent receipt to Chapter 61 disability retirees with less than 20 years of service.

Senate Actions Related to Retirees:

S. 271.  The Retired Pay Restoration Act permits certain retired members of the uniformed services who have a service-connected disability to receive both disability compensation from the department of Veterans Affairs for their disability and either retired pay by reason of their years of service or Combat-Related Special Compensation.

House Action Related to Survivor Issues:

H.R. 1594.  The Military Surviving Spouses Equity Act repeals the requirement for reduction of survivor annuities under the Survivor Benefit Plan to offset the receipt of veteran's dependency and indemnity compensation.

Senate Action Related to Survivor, Health Care, and Spouse/Family Issues:

S. 979.  The bill would eliminate the SBP-DIC Offset--the dollar for dollar offset of Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) from VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC).

S. 471.  The Women Veteran Access to Quality Care Act allows a credit against income tax for amounts paid by a spouse of a member of the Armed Forces for a new State license or certification required by reason of a permanent change in the duty station of such member to another State.

S. 210.  The Military Spouse Job Continuity Act allows a credit against income tax for amounts paid by a spouse of a member of the Armed Forces for a new State license or certificate required of a permanent change in the duty station of such member to another State.

House Action on Other Legislation:

H.R. 1475 The Korean War Veterans Memorial Wall of Remembrance Act authorizes a Wall of Remembrance as part of the Korean War Veterans Memorial and would all allow certain private contributions to fund it.

Senate Action on Other Legislation:

S. 1982.  The Korean War Wall of Remembrance Act authorizes a Wall of Remembrance as part of the Korean War Veterans Memorial and would allow certain private contributions to fund it.

* * * * * ONE MAJOR SUCCESS in the Maryland General Assembly -  2016 Session * * * * *

Senate Bill 245 has been passed and signed by Governor Hogan's.  It permits a private sector employer to grant a hiring and promotion preference to an eligible veteran, the spouse of an eligible veteran who has a service-connected disability, or the surviving spouse of a deceased eligible veteran.  An eligible veteran is a veteran of any branch of the Armed Forces who has received an honorable discharge or a certificate of satisfactory completion of military service, including the National Guard and military reserves. In granting this preference, an employer is now assured that he/she is not violating any State or local Equal Employment Opportunity law.

Our State Senator, Roger Manno of District 19, was the sponsor of the bill.  My husband, Harvey, and I have been invited to attend the signing ceremony later this month in the Governor's office in Annapolis.

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Naomi M. Kaplan

Spouse and Surviving Spouse Liaison

MOAA Maryland Council of Chapters