VETERAN’S NEWS From the Internet
Gathered by Bob Kinsler, SSG (ret), US Army, DAV, VFW Dept. of Oklahoma, PRO/Editor
I have been sitting with our new Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs, Claims and Benefits Representative Lisa Mussett for the last two weeks (in place of the Antlers VFW Post Service Officer who has been busy or slightly ill with a cold). One of the many subjects that came up is for the retired military types out there regarding Survivor Benefits Plan (SBP). So here is what I got from an edition of the US Army Retirement publication “Echoes”:
Are you creating a future debt for your spouse? By Bill Hursh, Army Survivor Benefit Plan Program Manager
You may be creating a debt for your spouse when you fail to update your Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) election or fail to pay your SBP premiums when your military retired pay is offset by your Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability compensation. When you die, your surviving spouse or other survivors will not receive your SBP annuity until all SBP premiums for coverage received are paid. For unpaid premiums, this can include interest on amounts owed.
SBP premiums are deducted from your military retired pay. If your VA disability compensation offsets your retired pay to the point where the SBP premiums cannot be fully paid from your retired pay, you create a debt to the government. You can pay the SBP premiums by either submitting a DD Form 2891, Authorization for RCSBP or SBP Cost Deductions, to the VA or by paying the SBP premiums directly to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS). If you take no action to pay the SBP premiums, you are creating a debt that must be paid before your survivors receive the SBP annuity. While at this time DFAS is only informing you of the SBP premium debt, in the future, DFAS could take more direct steps to collect the SBP premiums.
If you had spouse SBP coverage and it was suspended due to your spouse’s death or your divorce, your new spouse became your SBP beneficiary, by law, at the first anniversary of your new marriage. If you never informed DFAS to update your SBP election after your new marriage, no SBP premiums were deducted from your retired pay. However, if you have suspended spouse coverage and DFAS learns you have been remarried for more than one year, DFAS will immediately establish a debt for the past SBP premiums with interest. DFAS will then collect both current and past SBP premiums with interest from your military retired pay.
If you have suspended spouse SBP coverage and are remarried for at least one year when you die, your new spouse will receive both good and bad news from DFAS. The good news is that your new spouse is your SBP beneficiary by law, even if you didn’t notify DFAS of your new marriage. The bad news is your new spouse must first prove he or she is your surviving spouse and then he or she must pay any SBP premiums due with interest owed before receiving the SBP annuity.
To ensure you do not create an SBP premium debt for your new spouse when you have suspended spouse coverage, complete and submit a DD Form 2656-6, SBP Election Change Certificate, to DFAS with your marriage certificate. You can elect to increase your original SBP coverage, decline to cover your new spouse and any future spouse, or resume your previous spouse SBP coverage. If you have additional questions, contact the nearest installation RSO at Ft Sill, OK telephone # is: 580-442-2645 or email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I got the form for this and will give it to the Antlers VFW Service Officer – Mike Bray at 317-509-4165 (and keep one for my own use, in case the other posts need it).
Statement from the Department of Veterans Affairs on federal hiring freeze
Posted on February 28, 2017
VA announced exemptions to the federal hiring freeze in the president’s memo dated January 23, 2017. The authorities outlined in the president’s memo provide VA the ability to continue filling essential positions that provide public safety services to our Veterans. We strongly believe that these exemptions are in line with the president’s intent.
“The Department of Veterans Affairs intends to exempt anyone it deems necessary for public health and safety, including frontline caregivers,” Acting Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Snyder said. “The president and VA remain committed to seeing that our Veterans receive the quality care and benefits they’ve earned. This is the right thing to do for our Veterans.”
Another issue that was asked was about the changes in Tri-Care in the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, so I went to the actual act and copied the below:
Sec. 701. Access to TRICARE Prime for certain beneficiaries.
Sec. 702. Modifications of cost-sharing for the TRICARE pharmacy benefits program.
Sec. 703. Expansion of continued health benefits coverage to include discharged and released members of the Selected Reserve.
Sec. 704. Access to health care under the TRICARE program for beneficiaries of TRICARE Prime.
Sec. 705. Expansion of reimbursement for smoking cessation services for certain TRICARE beneficiaries.
Sec. 711. Waiver of recoupment of erroneous payments caused by administrative error under the TRICARE program.
Sec. 712. Publication of data on patient safety, quality of care, satisfaction, and health outcome measures under the TRICARE program.
Sec. 713. Expansion of evaluation of effectiveness of the TRICARE program to include information on patient safety, quality of care, and access to care at military medical treatment facilities.
Sec. 714. Portability of health plans under the TRICARE program.
Sec. 715. Joint uniform formulary for transition of care.
Sec. 716. Licensure of mental health professionals in TRICARE program.
Sec. 717. Designation of certain non-Department mental health care providers with knowledge relating to treatment of members of the Armed Forces.
Sec. 718. Comprehensive standards and access to contraception counseling for members of the Armed Forces.
Due to space, I cannot expand on any of the above, maybe in later articles.