Back payments doled out to retirees

By Tom Philpott: Military Update A small group of disabled military retirees this month will be the first of 133,000 to receive lump-sum back payments, which are tied to start-up challenges for two “concurrent receipt” programs enacted since 2003. That’s according to officials with the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS). The trickle of back […]

Federal workers see exponential wage increases

By Freedom Newspapers Here’s an easy way to double your salary: Go to work for the U.S. government. GovExec.com reported earlier this month that in 2005 average compensation for federal employees was “double that of private sector workers for the first time,” according to figures released by the Commerce Department’s U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. […]

Retirees hoping for back pay

By Tom Philpott: Military Update Retired Army Staff Sgt. Daniel F. Purinton, 71, has argued for almost two years that the Department of Veterans Affairs owes him an additional $8,044. Purinton said the underpayment occurred as Department of Defense and VA officials implemented a complex series of laws, starting in 2003, to end for many […]

Salary/benefits spike put leaders out of touch

Freedom Newspapers An alarming study by the libertarian Cato Institute suggests that a new class is being created in America — a government working elite with special privileges, quickly outpacing the private sector in the salaries and benefits it receives. The study found that average federal government workers’ total compensation — salary and benefits — […]

Disabled veterans program mismanaged

By Tom Philpott: Military Update The Department of Veterans Affairs mismanages its program for rating disabled veterans as “unemployable,” according to a new report by congressional auditors. Because of weak oversight of Individual Unemployability (IU) benefits, some veterans get more compensation than warranted, and the VA is ineffective in moving seriously disabled veterans toward productive […]

Lawmakers shouldn’t sneak compensation

By Ned Cantwell: State columnist There he sits, does Bulldog Bill, glowering. Looking every bit like the mascot on the beer can. The governor is not a happy man. The Legislature has done him wrong. There is, however, just the tease of a wry smile as Gov. Bill Richardson awaits legislative bills requiring his signed […]

State involvement could improve protection act

Freedom Newspapers Another year, another stab at re-writing the Endangered Species Act. Last year, the House of Representatives actually managed to pass a bill containing some promising provisions, including one requiring that compensation be paid to people whose property values are diminished by a federal listing. Now the action moves to the U.S. Senate — […]

Genetics won’t touch disability benefits

By Tom Philpott The Veterans’ Disability Benefits Commission unanimously has voted that a veteran’s genetic makeup, which might show predisposition to certain illnesses before entering service, is not a reasonable topic for the commission to study in its review of “service connection” and disability payments. During an Oct. 14 public hearing in Washington, D.C., the […]

Military Coalition leery of changing system

Tom Philpott: Military Update The Military Coalition, a powerful league of 35 service associations and veterans’ organizations, has warned a blue ribbon panel studying military compensation to be wary of claims by senior Defense officials and outside economists that service pay and benefits need business-like reforms. Coalition representatives testified on Wednesday before the Defense Advisory […]

Compensation reviews cause more stress

By Tom Philpott: Military Update Ronald Nesler of Las Cruces, a Vietnam veteran rated 100-percent disabled by post-traumatic stress disorder, learned this month that his case, as decided in 1997 by the Department of Veterans Affairs, lacked documents to support the finding of service-connected PTSD. The VA regional office in Albuquerque advised Nesler in an […]

Service members should be better informed

By Tom Philpott: Military Update Editor’s note: Military Update will move to Tuesdays beginning next week. Many service members are not well informed about their hodgepodge of pays, allowances, benefits and tax breaks and therefore don’t recognize and appreciate the real worth of their compensation packages. The observation is made in a Government Accountability Office […]

Plan adopted to study retirement changes

By Tom Philpott: Military Update The Defense Advisory Committee on Military Compensation has adopted an “action plan” to study private-sector-like changes to military pay and retirement, the kind that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has endorsed for several years. The committee of seven “eminent authorities in the fields of compensation,” as described by the department, adopted […]

Flaws discovered in disability benefits

By Tom Philpott: Military Update A commission conducting the first major review of veterans’ disability benefits in 50 years was warned at its inaugural meeting that perhaps too many veterans have been deemed “unemployable,” which raises their compensation to the level of 100-percent disabled veterans. Renee L. Szybala, director for operations of VA’s Compensation and […]

Misdeeds of few shouldn’t tarnish all

By Walter Williams In the wake of the Enron and WorldCom corporate scandals, the purveyors of envy have found another opportunity to preach about what they consider the evils of high CEO salaries, retirements and bonuses. After all, according to them, evil must be afoot when a corporate executive earns more in a week than […]

Endangered species listing needs regulation

CNJ staff The proposed removal from the endangered species list of the rodent formerly known as the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse is obviously something to cheer. But it likely won’t happen without a protracted battle against those who are exploiting the Endangered Species Act to dictate land use decisions everywhere in the country. More than […]

Oregon law reins in liberal land-use policies

Freedom Newspapers One shouldn’t put too much stock in the blue state vs. red state phenomenon described by political analysts. One of the most significant victories of the Nov. 2 election for believers in limited government came in the heart of blue country. Oregon voters overwhelmingly approved Measure 37, which reins in some of the […]

Location could affect disability claims

Tom Phillpot: Military Update More than two years after congressional auditors scored it as a problem, the Department of Veterans Affairs still has no way to assess whether its 57 regional offices are consistent in deciding disability claims for veterans suffering from the same type and severity of impairment. The Government Accountability Office, in recent […]

Agreement means more money for vets

Tom Philpott Congress and the Bush administration have agreed to a $22.1 billion deal over 10 years that will dramatically pare back a century-old ban on “concurrent receipt” of both military retired pay and tax-free disability compensation for injuries or illnesses traced to time in service. Up to 200,000 disabled retirees with 20 or more […]

New plan in works for offset retired pay

Tom Philpott With fewer strings attached this time to avoid the ire of veterans’ groups, House leaders are nearing a new deal with the Bush administration to end for many military retirees the offset in retired pay that occurs when they draw disability pay from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The deal would cost an […]

Volume is cause of wait for applications

By Tom Philpott Tens of thousands of military retirees still intend to apply for the new Combat-Related Special Compensation. Though the first CRSC applications were filed in early June, only about 1,000 were reviewed and 100 approved in time for payments to begin July 1. Given the volume of applications, waits of two to three […]