Edmonds Military Wire: Government shutdown impacts military pay

Michael Schindler
Michael Schindler

The Department of Defense recently recalled approximately 350,000 federal employees back to the Pentagon in order for it to reduce the impact caused by the government shutdown. This recall is taking place while private contractors such Lockheed Martin is furloughing some 3000 employees due to projects being stalled as a result of the shutdown.

According to the Department of Defense, the Pentagon lawyers’ legal interpretation of a law called the Pay Our Military Act provides protection and pay to warrant the recall.

However, according to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS), which is the entity responsible for providing payment services for the U.S. Department of Defense, there is still a bit of uncertainty; they issued the following statement on their website: “During the government shutdown, the Department of Defense will have no legal authority to pay any personnel – military or civilian – for the days during which the government is shut down. The shutdown will not affect payments to retirees and annuitants as those funds come from a retirement trust fund.”

DFAS acknowledges the Pay Our Military Act and is awaiting further instruction in order to better understand how to implement all elements of the law.

For those who are serving in uniform or as civilians, the following applies – until there is further explanation:

Military: Active, Reserve, and National Guard members will be paid on time for pay entitlements earned Sept. 30 or earlier. Military members cannot be paid for duty performed after the expiration of the current CRA on Sept. 30. Once another CRA or an appropriations act is signed into law, normal disbursement of military pay will resume.

Civilians: All civilian employees will be paid on their normal pay date for all entitlements earned through September 30. After September 30, the following rules apply:
• Excepted employees who perform duty during the shutdown will be entitled to retroactive payments once another CRA or an appropriations act is signed into law.
• For furloughed employees, Congress will have to provide authority for retroactive payments to be made.
• Employees whose organizations have available resources such as Defense Working Capital Fund, will be paid as normal until such time as cash reserves are exhausted.
• NonAppropriated Fund (NAF) civilian employees: Your pay will be processed and paid as normal.

For more information or an explanation, visit DFAS.mil

— By Michael Schindler

Michael Schindler, Navy veteran, and president of Edmonds-based Operation Military Family, is a guest writer for several national publications, author of the book “Operation Military Family” and “The Military Wire” blog. He is also a popular keynote and workshop speaker who reaches thousands of service members and their families every year through workshops and seminars that include “How to Battle-Ready Your Relationship” or “What Your Mother-in-Law Didn’t Tell You.” He received the 2010 Outstanding Patriotic Service Award from the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs.

  1. I’m retired Navy as well. I’ve read in various military-related websites that even though our retirement pay is not affected by the current shutdown, it MIGHT be effected by the debt ceiling situation. No one can say for sure because the government has never defaulted before.

    1. And the government will not default here either, there is sufficient cash flow to cover current Federal obligations and requirements that have priority on national funding, Internal operating debts are another story and are not a default consideration under present laws.

  2. There is a bit of confusion, although the monies for annuities and retirement come from a separate trust fund so those earned benefits should not be compromised.

  3. Lets hope that our elected parties will come to an agreement. Do they realize what effects they are having on our society let alone the veterans of our country?

  4. we all did our time and some of us really need the retirement pay. lets see what happens if the politicans don’t get paid until they fix the problem i bet they pass the bill quickly then

  5. Retirement pay is paid from a separate account (a Trust account) and should be unaffected – although, this is subject to change. Disability pay and other annuities could be impacted if no resolution to the shutdown or an approved budget happens by November 1st.

    1. Since the trust fund is not impacted by the CRA, which is appropriated funds, I think the bigger issue (for retired pay and of course many other things) might be the debt ceiling. If the debt ceiling isn’t raised then Treasury has to make some tough decisions – i.e. which debts do they pay. I’m guessing the “trust fund” is not self-sufficient and relies on fiduciary instruments that would be impacted by a “default” by the U.S. What do you think?

  6. The Treasury has made the public statement that they will have insufficient funds to make all payments after 17 OCT. Jim, I’m not totally clear on how the trust fund is supported (I’ve not taken the time to research it), but what we do know is that veteran disability checks, military pay, social security …and it could be feasible that retirement checks will be impacted should the debt ceiling not be raised.

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