Edmonds Military Wire: Military and veteran services return to normal

Michael Schindler
Michael Schindler

On Oct. 16, the President signed the bill that averted the default crisis and ended the 16-day partial government shutdown. According to the terms of the bill, the debt cushion now extends through Feb. 7, with current spending levels being authorized through Jan. 15.

The Defense Finance and Accounting Services website reports that “The Continuing Resolution signed by the President on Oct.17 allows you [all DoD Civilian employees] to receive pay for time worked or spent in a furlough status from Oct. 1 to the present. On your next regular payday, expect to receive pay for BOTH the pay period ending Oct. 19 and retroactive pay for the pay period ending Oct. 5, if all personnel and time and attendance transactions are completed.”

Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) regional offices re-opened their doors on Thursday, 17 OCT to resume services and according to Secretary of VA Eric Shinseki, “November 1 benefit checks will go out to approximately 5 million veterans and other beneficiaries as scheduled.”

More than 1,600 Veterans Benefits Specialists were furloughed during the government shutdown and now many veterans who had been scheduled for disability hearings during those 16 days, after waiting months and years, some up to five years, are back in the queue with no determined reschedule date for their hearing.

USA Today reported that the cost of the shutdown was substantial; “Estimates of the toll range from $12 billion to $24 billion for the U.S. economy, or as much as $1.5 billion per day, and as many as 250,000 jobs.”

According to economist Joel Naroff, “The shutdown trimmed fourth-quarter growth by 20 percent.”

Congress did approve back pay for furloughed government workers, which means at least 400,000 government workers will be paid for not working during the entire shutdown. This is not necessarily the case for federal contractors.

For more information on navigating your way through the pay back log, visit DFAS.mil or VA.gov.

– 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.

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  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.

    • 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.

    • 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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