Stripes.com Article – Military Pay Raise, 15,000 New Troops, Promotion Reforms: 5 Key Aspects of the 2019 Defense Budget
Here’s a link to the article, and here’s the most relevant sections for us:
With a 2.6 percent pay raise in place, which is slated to go into effect Jan. 1, servicemembers will see their wages increase at its highest level in nine years.
Servicemembers should see the increases in their first paychecks of the new year on Jan. 15, 2019.
“It clearly signals that Congress wants military pay to be competitive,” said Mark Cancian, a senior adviser with the Washington think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies.
The pay increases still aren’t as high as ones in 2008, 2009 and 2010, when servicemembers saw hikes of 3.4 percent or more. Also, servicemembers’ pay raises will compete against rises in inflation. On Friday, the Department of Labor reported the cost of living rose 2.9 percent for the year ending in June 2018.
“Always tough to get it right, because we will not know the inflation rate for calendar year 2019 until January 2020,” said Andrew Sherbo, a University of Denver finance professor who has tracked government and defense budget issues.
Under the plan, an E-5 with 8 years of service could see their monthly basic pay rise $80.81 a month from $3,126.16 in 2018 to $3,206.97 in 2019, or an annual gain of $969.72, Sherbo estimated.
The legislation also directs benefit improvements and personnel reforms. For example, it enhances reforms of the Military Health System and installs the most widespread changes to the Defense Officer Personnel Management Act since it was enacted in 1980.
DOPMA, which standardized military promotions across the armed forces, will now let the services use civilian experience to establish new ranks for entering servicemembers, let certain officers promote faster and the expectation of retirement if a servicemember fails to promote twice could be removed.
In addition, servicemembers could also see higher per diem reimbursements in cases where they travel more than 30 days under the NDAA’s changes.
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.
By Chief of Naval Personnel Public Affairs
WASHINGTON (NNS) — Tuesday, the Navy released NAVADMIN 020/17 announcing the release and availability of the Blended Retirement System (BRS) Opt-In course.
The decision to stay in the current retirement system or opt-in to BRS is an important and irrevocable decision that eligible Sailors must make based on their own individual circumstances. This course aims to help eligible service members make that decision.
All service members who are opt-in eligible must complete the Blended Retirement System training, now available on Joint Knowledge Online (JKO) at: http://jkodirect.jten.mil/html/COI.xhtml?course_prefix=J3O&course_number=P-US1332 (course #: J3O P-US1332). The training will be available soon on Navy e-Learning.
Active Component (AC) members are eligible to opt-in if they entered military service on or before Dec. 31, 2017, and have less than 12 years of service.
Reserve Component (RC) members, including Full Time Support (FTS) members, can opt-in if they entered military service on or before Dec. 31, 2017, and they have accumulated fewer than 4,320 retirement points as of Dec. 31, 2017.
United States Naval Academy and Reserve Officer Training Corps Midshipmen as well as Delayed Entry Program service members are opt-in eligible if they entered the military on or before Dec. 31, 2017.
Eligible Sailors should have received notification of their opt-in eligibility via email (sent to the email address registered to an individual’s Navy Standard Integrated Personnel System (NSIPS) account). Command administration departments must contact their personnel support divisions to access a list of all opt-in eligible members within their command and then notify all opt-in eligible members within their units.
In order to ensure opt-in eligible Sailors are making the most informed decision possible, a few additional tools have been developed for use. Additionally, an on-line calculator is expected to be released in March to aid eligible members in their decision making process.
The Navy has also developed the Navy Financial Literacy app that is designed to provide Sailors with access to both training and resources, which is especially critical during the transition to BRS. The free app is available for download now at the Google Play and iTunes app stores. To find the app, search “Navy Financial Literacy” in the app stores or in your web browser.
For the most up-to-date information on BRS and links to training go to the Uniform Services Blended Retirement web page at http://militarypay.defense.gov/BlendedRetirement/.
For complete information on BRS opt-in training requirements and availability see NAVADMIN 020/16 at http://www.npc.navy.mil.
For more news from Chief of Naval Personnel, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnp/.
New in 2017: Expect rigorous debate over military pay and benefits
By: Leo Shane III, Military Times, December 27, 2016
For the first time since 2013, military personnel in January will see a “full” pay raise equal to the expected increase in private sector wages. But it remains unclear whether this is a sign of better benefits and compensation in years to come.
How Congress and the new president treat military pay and benefits will be an issue worth service members’ attention in the year ahead, since the moves will directly affect their families’ finances.
President-elect Donald Trump has already promised to boost military spending, including more personnel and equipment. He has also promised that the country will “take care of the military” better than under President Barack Obama.
Outside advocates hope this means protecting military compensation.
In recent years, Pentagon leaders trimmed expected increases for housing stipends and basic pay to instead redirect hundreds of millions of dollars to modernization and training efforts. Military officials have said it’s a distasteful but necessary tradeoff, given shortfalls in the defense budget.
But troops’ advocates and some lawmakers have said it needlessly burdens troops and their families. They successfully fought a lower pay raise proposal for 2017, and pushed back against plans for a complete overhaul of housing stipends which could have taken away thousands of dollars annually from some troops.
With the new administration they’ll push Trump’s Pentagon to hold personnel costs separate from major weapons purchases, and hope to recoup some of the lost trims in the years to come.