Fixing the Ryan-Murray Budget Deal

Last week the House passed the Ryan-Murray budget deal that inadvertently changed the benefits for service members who retired due to a disability or a service-related injury. This is not acceptable and was not the intention of either Chairman Ryan or Chairwoman Murray. I do not support changing the retirement benefits for disabled veterans, and today, I introduced a bill with House Veterans Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller (FL-01) that will ensure this COLA reduction does not impact service members who retired because of disability or a service-related injury. The bill I introduced will exempt:

  1. All veterans who medically retire;
  2. Any veteran receiving Combat Related Specialty Compensation (CRSC);
  3. Any veteran receiving Concurrent Receipt Pay (CRDP); and
  4. Surviving spouses receiving payments under the Survivor Benefit Program (SBP) from the one percent COLA reduction included in the Ryan-Murray budget deal. Senator Murray is introducing a similar bill in the Senate, and I look forward to this important legislative fix becoming law soon.

It is important to remember that the Ryan-Murray budget deal does not affect disability-compensation benefits and does not impact any service members’ VA-provided medical care. Starting December 1, 2015, the Ryan-Murray budget deal reduces by one percent the COLA for any service member who retires after 20 years of service and is not yet 62 years old. Here is an example of how a COLA works under current law and how it will work under the Ryan-Murray budget deal:

  • If a service members’ retirement benefit is $100 per year and the annual Consumer Price Index (CPI) is 2%.
  • Under current law, the service members’ total payment would be their benefit ($100) plus their COLA ($2 because 2% of $100 = $2) which would equal $102 for that year.
  • Under the Murray-Ryan budget deal, the service members’ total payment would be their benefit ($100) plus their COLA (which is 1% since 2%-1% = 1% and 1% of $100 is $1). Their total payment would equal $101 for that year. At age 62 the service members’ COLA, would revert to the annual CPI and their COLA would no longer be reduced.

Since the founding of our great country, we have been blessed with men and women who are willing to risk their lives to keep our county safe. It is one of the great privileges of my job to support the men and women who support us, and I will be working hard to ensure we fix the drafting error in the Ryan-Murray budget deal so that we do not reduce the retirement benefits for any service member who retired due because of disability or a service-related injury.

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