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Letters to the Editor, March 18

Mar. 17, 2013 - 01:34PM   |  
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Bill to help disabled vets

More than a decade ago, I learned that Congress has repeatedly forced the bravest men and women in our nation — retired career veterans — to forfeit dollar-for-dollar their retirement pay if they also receive disability pay for an injury that occurred while serving our nation. This is a problem that needs a solution.

For more than 122 years, these disabled and injured heroes have been shortchanged. What started as a cost-cutting measure implemented after the Civil War became an accepted long-term reality. We owe it to our veterans to do better, and that is why I began working to legalize concurrent receipt of disability and retirement benefits.

We have made progress. In 2003, I led Congress in passing a 10-year phase-in of concurrent receipt for military retirees whose disability is 50 percent or greater. In 2004, those with 100 percent disability were able to begin drawing concurrent pay immediately. And I am pleased that this year, the 10-year phase-in period will finally come to bear. However, we must now fight to close the gap for our nation’s heroes who have a disability rating less than 50 percent.

In February, I introduced the 2013 Retired Pay Restoration Act. This legislation will permit retired members of the armed forces who have a service-connected disability rating less than 50 percent to receive both their military retired pay and full Veterans Affairs Department disability compensation.

This legislation will provide much needed support for the remaining 625,000 disabled veterans who do not qualify for this earned benefit. Without passage of this bill, wounded warriors in Nevada and every other state will fail to receive the care they were promised.

I am committed to correcting this unfortunate error. We must always stand up for the men and women who become wounded or disabled in service to this great nation. I urge my colleagues in Congress to join me to ensure American heroes are never abandoned.

— Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., Washington

Change to chained CPI

Regarding “Lawmakers say chained CPI proposal off table — for now,” Jan. 7 issue: The chained CPI does not mean retirees will have their compensation cut. All it means is the net annual increase in annuities will be slightly less.

A person is getting, say, $1,000 monthly. Currently, he would get a 1.7 percent cost-of-living adjustment, bringing his check to $1,017. Under the proposal, he would still get a raise, only it would be $3 less — his new pay would be $1,014. How many of us would be thrown into hardship by a $3 loss?

The Simpson-Bowles team claims this small change will save $290 billion over 10 years. Let’s stop complaining and just do it.

— Robert F. Benson, Columbus, Ohio

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