MOAA Leadership Supports Bill To Benefit Disabled Veterans

MOAA Leadership Supports Bill To Benefit Disabled Veterans

MOAA President and CEO Lt. Gen. Dana T. Atkins, USAF (Ret), and I recently met with Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.) to discuss concurrent receipt and the Chapter 61 issue and the potential way ahead in Congress.

Bishop is the sponsor of the most comprehensive concurrent receipt legislation currently introduced in Congress - H.R. 333, the Disabled Veterans Tax Act. The legislation seeks to change current law and would allow all eligible servicemembers to receive both retirement and disability compensation - a longstanding MOAA goal.

The legislation also would seek to remedy the Chapter 61 inequity as a must solve subset of this wider goal. Currently, Chapter 61 retirees cannot have their retirement and disability pays computed equal to those who retire with 20 or more years of service, regardless of the disability rating.

MOAA highlighted H.R. 333 during Storming the Hill in April, which helped to raise the profile of the legislation in Congress and what it's trying to accomplish for military retirees, leading to an increase in co-signers for support.

For H.R. 333 to move forward and be passed, the legislation needs more cosponsors in the House of Representatives. This will give the bill the needed political momentum to help get it approved in House Armed Services Committee's Personnel Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over the legislation. This achievement has alluded the legislation thus far but is the critical first step in order for the legislation to be debated by the full Armed Services Committee and then, if passed by the full committee, be brought to the House for consideration and debate.

In MOAA's efforts to gain congressional support for the wider concurrent receipt issue, we have worked with other legislators in both the House and Senate, and two other bills - not as comprehensive as H.R. 333 - have been introduced to try and remedy the concurrent receipt issue. Those bills are H.R. 303, the Retired Pay Restoration Act,introduced by Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.), and S. 66, Retired Pay Restoration Act, introduced by Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.)

In addition, Heller plans to introduce an amendment in the upcoming floor debate on the Senate's version of the FY 2019 Defense Authorization Bill (S. 2987), which would seek to remedy the Chapter 61 issue through a phase in over a six-year period. MOAA has worked closely with Heller on this amendment and recently sent out an alert message to members to contact their senators to support the amendment.