Congressional compensation needs cutting

At least one group of Americans has been profiting despite the faltering economy: members of the U.S. House of Representatives. They’re supposed to be the part of the government that’s “closest to the people.” But as the saying has it, they came to do good and stayed to do well. In their cases, mostly very […]

Compensation for vets expanded

More than 84,000 Vietnam veterans afflicted with heart disease, Parkinson’s disease or B-cell leukemia are drawing disability compensation today thanks to a decision by Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki to expand the list of ailments presumed caused by exposure to herbicides, including Agent Orange, used during that war. Another 74,000 veterans have claims pending, […]

Press release: Udall urges troops and veterans to claim stop loss compensation

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tom Udall, D-N.M., is urging active duty service members, veterans, and beneficiaries of service members who were involuntarily extended between September 11, 2001 and September 30, 2009, to apply for Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay. Under the 2009 War Supplemental Appropriations Act, compensation is available to service members of every military […]

DoD launches compensation study

By Tom Philpott: PNT columnist Military compensation is far different today than it was on Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists attacked America. As U.S. troops surged into Afghanistan and, 17 months later, invaded Iraq, Congress began pumping a stream of piecemeal improvements into pay and benefits. That continues, though the flow of new initiatives has […]

Experts: Military pay gap no longer exists

By Tom Philpott: Military Update Every witness before a Senate subcommittee hearing last week on military compensation — all experts on service pay and benefits — called directly or indirectly for Congress to end its 12-year run of voting for annual military pay raises that exceed wage growth in the private sector. No witness suggested […]

Group, worker suing state for workers compensation benefits

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By Argen Duncan: PNT senior writer New Mexico is hearing a debate over whether agriculture workers need to be included in the state-run workers compensation system. A group of civil rights organizations is suing to have New Mexico agricultural workers included. However, many in the agriculture industry have said their employees are already covered and […]

VA not ready to back disabled pay

By Tom Philpott: Military update Monthly compensation the Department of Veterans Affairs pays to veterans with service-connected disabilities is intended to replace average earnings loss due to injuries or ailments. But should VA also pay disabled veterans something extra for diminished quality of life? Two prominent commissions in 2007 said it should. Last week, however, […]

Another gaffe in retro pay project

By Tom Philpott: Syndicated columnist As many as 39,000 disabled military retirees have been left out of the VA Retro Pay program by mistake, say officials at the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) who are calculating the amount of money owed. This latest and perhaps most serious gaffe in the problem-plagued VA Retro Pay […]

Study: No gap between military and civilian pay

By Tom Philpott A new Department of Defense study of military compensation finds no pay gap exists today between service members and civilian peers. But the study, conducted over the last two years, advises Defense leaders to adopt a new tool for comparing military and private sector compensation so that service members learn to appreciate […]

2008 Basic Allowance for Housing set

By Tom Philpott Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) paid to service members living off base in stateside areas will climb an average of 7.3 percent next month to keep pace with local rental costs. A total of 1.2 million service members will draw BAH in 2008, an increase of 250,000 over 2007, said Susan A. […]

Labor bill receives lukewarm reception

By Marlena Hartz : Freedom Newspapers A bill that would help farm and ranch laborers injured at work has gotten a lukewarm reception in the Legislature, and local lawmakers predict it has too many hiccups to pass. Rep. Anna Crook, R-Clovis, and others said a bill that would amend the Worker’s Compensation Act to include […]

Retro pay reaches $31,000, averages $1,500

By Tom Philpott : Military Update Two months into a year-long review of pay records and disability compensation histories for 140,000 military retirees have produced a total of $45 million in back pay to 31,000 disabled retirees, say officials in charge. The lump-sum payments average about $1,500. Ten retirees have received more than $25,000 each, […]

Lump sum payment may be improvement

By Tom Philpott: Military Update The Veterans’ Disability Benefits Commission has examined and rejected a proposal that the VA begin offering veterans with lower-rated disabilities a lump-sum payment instead of lifetime monthly compensation. The 13-member commission reached its decision unanimously last week at a public meeting in Washington, D.C. It did so after being briefed […]

Feds employee too many, pay to much

Editorial Here’s an easy way to double your salary: Go to work for the U.S. government. GovExec.com reported earlier this month that in 2005 average compensation for federal employees was “double that of private sector workers for the first time,” according to figures released by the Commerce Department’s U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. In 2005, […]

Public salaries now averaging higher than private sector

Editorial An alarming study by the libertarian Cato Institute suggests that a new class is being created in America — a government working elite with special privileges, quickly outpacing the private sector in the salaries and benefits it receives. The study found that average federal government workers’ total compensation — salary and benefits — now […]

Veteran compensation needs overhaul

By Tom Philpott: Military Update The Department of Veterans Affairs mismanages its program for rating disabled veterans as “unemployable,” according to a new report by congressional auditors. Because of weak oversight of Individual Unemployability (IU) benefits, some veterans get more compensation than warranted, and the VA is ineffective in moving seriously disabled veterans toward productive […]

Benefit changes not appealing to coalition

By Tom Philpott: Military Update The Military Coalition, a powerful league of 35 service associations and veterans’ organizations, has warned a blue ribbon panel studying military compensation to be wary of claims by senior Defense officials and outside economists that service pay and benefits need business-like reforms. Coalition representatives testified on Wednesday before the Defense […]

June 14 Military Update

By Tom Philpott The Defense Advisory Committee on Military Compensation has adopted an “action plan” to study private-sector-like changes to military pay and retirement, the kind that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has endorsed for several years. The committee of seven “eminent authorities in the fields of compensation,” as described by the department, adopted an agenda […]