VETERAN’S NEWS From the Internet
Gathered by Bob Kinsler, SSG (ret), US Army, DAV, VFW Dept. of Oklahoma, Publicity Team Member
Greg Parson from Paris, Texas and Shawn Snow report on May 17, 2017
Supreme Court rules in veteran’s favor in closely watched divorce settlement case
The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled Monday, in the case of Howell v. Howell, that a state court cannot offset the loss of a divorced spouse’s portion of a veteran’s retirement benefits when that veteran waives retirement pay in favor of disability pay. The issue has been hotly debated for years.
In 1991, a court awarded Sandra Howell half of Air Force veteran John Howell’s retirement pay when the couple was divorced. However, after becoming aware in 2005 that he was eligible for disability benefits, John, who had received a 20 percent disability rating from the Department of Veterans Affairs, elected to waive $250 of his $1,500 a month in retirement pay, which is taxable, in favor of $250 monthly disability pay from the VA, which is not taxable. That reduced Sandra’s monthly divorce settlement by $125, so she went back to court, arguing that she should get half of what his retirement pay would have been if he had not opted for disability pay.
The Arizona Supreme Court upheld her claim in its interpretation of the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act, a law that regulates how military retirement pay may be divided up after a divorce.
The Supreme Court’s ruling Monday overturned the Arizona court’s decision.
Until 2003, disabled veterans had to select either their full retirement compensation from the Department of Defense or their VA disability benefit with a reduced retirement annuity. This penalty became known as the “VA offset.” Many veterans choose the offset, however, because disability payments are tax free. In the 2003 and 2004 defense authorization bills, Congress waived this offset in certain cases, and veterans with career-ending combat injuries or a disability rating of 50 percent or higher were allowed to concurrently receive both types of payments. According to the Congressional Budget Office, about 55 percent of the 2 million military retirees are subject to the VA offset.
Adam Unikowsky, a lawyer representing John Howell, argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in March that Congress intended for veterans to keep their disability pay, as it fills the gap for pay they will no longer be able to make in the future. The goal of protecting a veteran’s pay is not temporal in nature, he said, meaning it has nothing to do with whether the veteran is eligible for disability before or after the divorce.
He further argued that the U.S. Supreme Court had previously decided, in Mansell v. Mansell, that the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act did not permit state courts to treat retirement pay that had been waived to receive veterans’ disability benefits as something that could be divided.
Dan O’Grady from the Hugo VFW post reports: Wednesday 24 May I will be putting out flags on the graves of Mt. Olivet here in Hugo for the veterans in preparation for Memorial Day. Could use some help if anyone wants to be part of this. Start 9AM. Will finish by noon. Thanks.
Last week I requested that anyone who needed transportation to their VA Medical clinic or VA Health Care System Center (VAMC) please call one of the people I named. Well, I got one. The others have not had anyone call or notify them they need transportation.
I, with the help of Markwayne Mullins office, put in a congressional inquiry to KI-BIOS Transit, after discussing it with a senior elected member of the VFW Department of Oklahoma who informed me that KI-BIOS Transit had received a multi-million dollars grant to provide transportation within the Eastern Oklahoma area, why they have not used some of these funds within the SE Oklahoma area.
Guess what, they did not receive this multi-million dollars grant and have no idea where that information came from (no I did not tell them either). They are like the Little Dixie Transportation services in SE Oklahoma who charge for trips.
So, veterans here is the deal, I personally know of four veterans who need transportation to and from those VA Health Clinics/Centers from people calling me or complaining to my spouse about it. So, as noted before, YOU MUST CONTACT YOUR PRIMARY CARE TEAM TO INFORM THEM YOU NEED TRANSPORTATION TO GET TO YOUR APPOINTMENT. (Bonham Transportation number: 903-583-6496)
While I am still trying to get something or at least get a reduction in fees to ride Little Dixie transportation system for VA Appointments (including those QTC/VES appointments for VA Disability Claims). I might just try a “Fund Me” page to see what results that would provide.
On the other hand, there is a franchise opportunity for those veterans who know how to fly Drones in the area. Ms. Samantha Wilson (telephone – (360) 338-6543) has a system you really need to look at and with the promise of 25% (or for certain veterans a 50%) discount for franchise fee to get into this for a great way of insuring an income:
We are a drone as a service company that has been providing services for three years with contracted pilots, we have found such value in our local and national accounts that we have moved forward with a franchise module.
We provide franchisees access to our national accounts, operations manual, vendor relationship and training by industry experts, just to name a few.
On average, we have a franchise fee of $35k dollars and define territory by counties adjacent to one another in your state. (Bob Note: with the discounts that is 26,250 to 17,500 not bad for what they are offering and quite a bit less than any other franchises I have seen lately)
For us to begin to explore this together, a call is necessary. I am happy to accommodate your schedule to the best of my ability.