by Brendon Drew
DFAS has struggled to accurately implement the new pay plan, and most physicians notice the impact on their LES. What most don’t realize, though, is that the errors may have also impacted their Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) investments. If you contribute to the TSP with any of your medical specialty pays, you should thoroughly investigate your LES and your TSP statements. Here’s an example of what can happen.
I was transitioned off of the legacy pay in February 2017:
When DFAS completed the retroactive pay changes, $785.93 was removed from my 2017 TSP contribution total:
While that may not seem like much, consider that my TSP earned 27% in 2017, the money grows tax-free in a Roth account, and I plan on having that account for another 30-40 years.
Since the involuntary withdrawal occurred in calendar year 2018 but went back into calendar year 2017, I was unable to provide “catch up” contributions in 2018.
I recommend that you review your LES carefully. In the month(s) you are transitioned from the legacy system, look for a negative VSP and/or BCP entitlement. If you see one of these, go pull your TSP statements from the corresponding period and you may find that money was taken out of your retirement account and given back to you as cash.
If you have questions about this, feel free to email me on the global address book. Make sure you have access to your LES and prior TSP statements.
The FY18 NAVADMIN has been released, and the NAVADMIN and the FY18 Pay Guidance for each Corps is attached here:
Officers can now submit for special pays through your command’s Special Pay coordinator with an effective date of 1 Oct 2017, until now, if they meet the eligibility requirements. Remember the request and endorsement cannot be dated earlier than the release date of the NAVADMIN, which is 25 Jan 2018.
Here’s a message about the special pays from the Medical Corps Chief (RDML Pearigen) and the Navy Surgeon General (VADM Faison):
From: “Pearigen, Paul RDML USN NAVMED WEST SAN CA (US)”
Date: December 27, 2017 at 11:33:05 CST
Subject: FW: MEDICAL SPECIAL PAYS UPDATE
Medical Corps Specialty Leaders:
Through email, newsletter, and other mechanisms, the MC Chief staff and I have kept you up-to-date on the ongoing issues related to transition to Consolidated Special Pays and, in particular, the challenges and problems DFAS has encountered in executing this in a timely and accurate manner for those officers from medical and other communities eligible for these pays.
The staff of BUMED Director, Total Force, in particular, Mr. Marin and his team in Special Pays, have worked diligently to assist and prod DFAS in getting this right, as well as to support the officers in your community as this conversion proceeds.
I know this has been, at a minimum, an inconvenience for our active duty physicians–and for some a financial hardship based on their expectations with respect to timing and associated commitments they may have entered. They deserve better, and it is not enough for us to simply say it is DFAS’s responsibility and out of our control. BUMED and the MC Chief’s staff continue to work this aggressively, including name-by-name efforts at resolution; the current status has been detailed for you in recent communications from the MC office. Thank you all for your patience and assistance in getting through this very rocky special pays program transition year.
I am forwarding the below message from the Surgeon General, which I ask you to further forward to your specialty community.
Thanks, and with respect,
Paul D. Pearigen, MD, MMM, CPE, FAAEM
RDML, MC, USN
Commander, Navy Medicine West
Chief of the Navy Medical Corps (M00C1)
Navy Medicine Team,
It has come to my attention that many of you have been directly impacted by the challenges DFAS Cleveland is having with processing special pays resulting in lengthy processing delays, errors in the rates DFAS is paying in addition to overpayment of Incentive Pay. In previous years, the individual Services were able to make these payments but they now must be processed by DFAS, resulting in delays of up to four months.
As background, Consolidated Special Pays were directed by the 2008 NDAA. As such, DoD was given 10 years to implement the change which ends in January 2018. However, ASD(HA) did not authorize the Services to convert until fiscal year 2017. I fully realize the financial impact this is having on you and your families. We are committed to doing everything possible both here at BUMED and working with DFAS to address this situation. I am personally
engaged on this and working this closely with our team. The BUMED Total Force team has been proactively working this issue on your behalf by engaging directly with Navy Manpower and DFAS Cleveland. Mr. Bill Marin, BUMED
Special Pays Program Manager, visited DFAS Cleveland in November to simplify the process and reduce the time it takes for DFAS to process and pay Medical Special Pays. In the meantime, DFAS also assigned additional personnel to focus on reducing the backlog. BUMED has and will continue to process all actions received.
Additionally, we are personally engaging the Director of DFAS who will continue to work this for you. Likewise, the BUMED team and I are committed to keeping you informed as updates become available on this issue. If you have
any immediate questions or concerns that need to be addressed, please contact the BUMED Navy Medical Special Pays Program at usn.ncr.bumedfchva.mbx.specialpays-bumed < at > mail.mil.
C. Forrest Faison III, M.D.
VADM MC USN
Surgeon General, U.S. Navy
Chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery
Here are the PPT slides used by the Medical Corps Career Planner at the Specialty Leader Business Meeting:
The remainder of the slides are marked “For Official Use Only” and won’t be posted.
BUMED Special Pays office has identified some Medical Corps and Dental Corps officers who will see a big increase in their 15 Dec 2017 paycheck, that is an overpayment of Incentive Pay (IP). DFAS has been contacted and is performing audits of records to determine who may have been overpaid, and how much. Once they are identified, DFAS will be inputting debts in those member’s accounts who have been overpaid.
Over the past couple of weeks, DFAS has tried to get caught up with the back log of special pays by processing what is called MASS TRANSACTIONS. However, in processing the MASS TRANSACTIONS, DFAS used the full annual IP
rate in determining the monthly amounts of IP to be paid vice the adjusted annual IP amount for those who received an ASP or ISP under the Legacy Special Pays where those pays crossed the start date of the new IP. This will mostly impact MC, but there may be some DC officers particularly OMFS who receive ISP, and those DC officers who entered an IP prior to the expiration of their ASP agreement.
DFAS and BUMED Special Pays office are working to try and audit all the records that may have been impacted, but it is going to take time to complete. In the meantime, the EOY tax cutoff is next week, which means any
records not completed, or the overpayment not repaid by then may have an impact on their 2017 taxes, which may require a Corrected W2 to have to be prepared. BUMED Special Pays office has inquired with DFAS how this is all
going to be corrected, and requested a time line, which they are still awaiting a response.
BUMED Special Pays office is asking that anyone who believes their 15 Dec 2017 paycheck may have an overpayment, to contact their command special pays office, or email BUMED Special Pays office (usn.ncr.bumedfchva.mbx.specialpays-bumed < at > mail.mil), so they can review the member’s record and notify DFAS if the member is overpaid, in order to get it completed hopefully in time for the 2017 tax year.
Here’s a BUMED special pays update I was forwarded by the MEC Chair at my command:
The DFAS payment delinquent issues have been communicated to the SG via Info Paper and elevated to the OASN (M&RA). We are asking that ASN(M&RA) work with the Service M&RAs to raise the issue to USD(P&R). We believe P&R can raise the issue with OSD(COMP), the reporting senior for DFAS.
As of 9 NOV 2017, there were 72 lists backlogged in the DFAS Defense Workload Operations System (DWOWS) dating back to 10 JUL 2017. Thirty of those lists have been at DFAS for more than 30 days, which have increased the payment delays to four months. Many of the lists are in a suspense status. For example, a list could contain three different special pays (IP, RB, BCP), the DFAS clerk could process entries for RB and IP to be paid and have not yet processes the entries for BCP. Further, some officers on the list may have had their pay processed while others are pending.
Additional personnel were hired at DFAS to help expedite processing the Medical Special Pays. The new staff did not understand the intricacies involved with medical special pays, thus the good faith effort has not decreased the amount of time to process requests, and has led to some incorrect payments.
Officers with questions should first contact their Command Special Pays Coordinator for assistance. If the Command Special Pays Coordinator needs further assistance with the officer’s question, they can e-mail or call the BUMED Special Pays Program office. BUMED Special Pays Program office can only provide the date of an officer’s special pay request was submitted it to DFAS. Once a request has reached DFAS, BUMED Special Pays Program office has no visibility of the request until after the pay has started. New pays are reflected on the LES as SAVED PAY.
BUMED Special Pays Program Manager is at DFAS Cleveland this week to address the backlog, expedite the processing of special pay requests, and determine a workable solution to process the FY-18 Special Pays. An update on the success of this trip will be provided in the next update.
The FY18 Medical Department Officers Special Pays NAVADMIN for active duty is expected to be release by mid December 2017. Officers will have 30 days from the release date of the NAVADMIN to submit requests for special pays effective 1 October 2017. Officers must meet the eligibility outlined in the FY-18 Special Pay Guidance. All remaining officers not already under a consolidated special pay contract must submit a special pays request to transition from legacy special pay to consolidated special pay by 28 January 2018.
First you had Joel Schofer’s Promo Prep…over 5,900 downloads…4,329 are by my Mom…thanks, Mom…
Then you had Joel Schofer’s Fitrep Prep…over 1,500 downloads…1,234 are by my Mom…thanks again, Mom…
Now you have CDR Drew’s Consolidated Pay Audit Spreadsheets, which probably will not break the MCCareer download record because my Mom will not be downloading them.
One of the senior officers in my community, CDR Brendon Drew at NMC San Diego, used to be a pay officer and has been deep diving on the new consolidated pay plan. He’s created these Excel spreadsheets below for you to use when trying to audit your pay conversion and see if you are being paid correctly:
Please note the following:
- These spreadsheets only work for physicians who were completely transitioned to the new pay system in FY 17. For example, if variable special pay (VSP), board certification pay (BCP) or any other legacy pay is listed on your September and/or October 2017 LES, these spreadsheets will not provide you with a reliable audit. Once you have “save pay” only on your LES for two straight months, then you can contact CDR Drew as detailed below for a pay audit.
- Save Pay = “new pay” and can be a combination of incentive pay (IP), continuation pay, and BCP depending on what you qualify for.
- CDR Drew’s strong recommendation is that you save your LESs for perpetuity. The DFAS/MyPay system will only let you retrieve them for the last year.
If you’d like help auditing your pay or have any questions about how to use the spreadsheets, contact CDR Brendon Drew (his email address is in the global address book) with your LESs from July of 2016 through October of 2017. If you don’t have your old LESs saved, your audit will likely require some pay office (PSD, DFAS, etc) assistance.