MOAA's Expectations for 2019 Federal Budget

About the Author

Col. Mike Barron, USA (Ret) is the Director of Currently Serving and Retired Affairs for MOAA's Government Relations department.

Congressional leadership appears to have secured a deal to continue to fund the government and raise the caps on both defense and nondefense discretionary spending for the next two years. That's a great start, but the legislative season is just getting under way. Looking ahead, MOAA hopes to see five things in President Donald Trump's soon-to-be released FY 2019 defense budget request to Congress.

  1. Support for a full military pay raise of 2.6 percent per the Employment Cost Index (ECI), to which by law, military pay increases are tied. As part of the FY 2018 defense authorization legislation, the president agreed to a pay raise commensurate with ECI thus providing pay-raise parity with the private sector - we would like to see the trend continue.

  2. Matching troop levels and commensurate funding to mission requirements. Given an increasingly turbulent and unpredictable security environment with ongoing global requirements and commitments, the services need the right personnel end strength levels and funding to properly execute their missions. 

  3. No major TRICARE fee increases. Given the large number of various fee increases approved last year to TRICARE and the impact those increases will have on beneficiaries, MOAA would oppose to any new proposed increases for care.

  4. Support to end the disability offset for medically retired servicemembers. MOAA's long-held position is that career servicemembers earn retired pay by service alone, and those unfortunate enough to suffer a service-caused disability in the process should have any VA disability compensation added to - not subtracted from - military retired pay.  For servicemembers forced into disability retirement before 20 years, commonly referred to as Chapter 61 retirees, service-earned retired pay should be vested as acknowledgement of their service, even though their career was cut short by their service-caused disability.

  5. Support to repeal the widows tax. Military survivors whose sponsors die of service-connected issues are eligible for two federal benefits: a sponsor-purchased Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) from DoD and Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) from the VA, but current law requires money paid from SBP to be reduced dollar-for-dollar by the amount paid by VA's DIC. MOAA strongly believes the widow's tax should be eliminated. These programs are paid for two separate reasons: SBP is a servicemember-purchased plan to ensure a continued financial benefit for a servicemember's survivor.   DIC is a monetary benefit paid to eligible survivors whose sponsors die from a service-connected injury. It remains a sense of Congress to end this offset as soon as fiscally possible.

Stay engaged with MOAA! We will post updates on social media as the legislative year begins. Let's watch for the president's FY 2019 budget proposal - expected February 12, 2018, to stay informed and to take action together on these and other important issues and topics!



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