A combination of lawmakers and veteran groups are stepping up efforts to fight cuts to benefits for military retirees under the bipartisan budget agreement passed by Congress before the holiday break.
President Obama put his signature on the two-year budget bill, which includes provisions to pare down annual cost-of-living increases in benefits for military retirees under age 62, saving the government an estimated $6.3 million over a decade.
Bills have been introduced by members on both sides of the aisle that would effectively undo pension cuts to military retirees.
Spearheading these efforts are Rep. Julia Brownley, D-Calif., and Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas.
Among other proposals, lawmakers have proposed closing a tax loop hole that has allowed illegal immigrants to claim fraudulent cash payments in order to replace these pension costs.
The change would reduce retirement benefits for working-age retirees.
Starting Dec. 1, 2015, cost-of-living adjustments for pensions of people under 62 would be modified to equal inflation minus 1 percent.
Then, at 62, retirees would receive a "catch-up" increase that would restore their pensions to reflect levels as if the cost-of-living adjustment had been the full consumer price index in all previous years.
But, retirees wouldn't get back what was lost.
An example would be a reduction of nearly $72,000 in benefits over a lifetime for a sergeant first class who retires at age 42.
Outrage by veterans groups cite the unfairness to those Americans who have served honorably in uniform and they predict this change will prompt an exodus of those at mid career once the U.S. economy rebounds, and that it will hurt efforts to recruit new individuals into the all-volunteer force.
Contact elected officials to voice opinions and help lawmakers fight these cuts.
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