Pay

MOAA – Defense Bills: House and Senate Versions Compared

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Here’s an article that compares the House and Senate versions of the NDAA 20. Here are the two bullets most readers would care about:

  • A pay raise win. Summaries from leaders of both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees pledge that their final legislation will include a 3.1% military pay raise, which would align with the administration’s FY 2020 budget request and with MOAA efforts to sustain pay comparability with the private sector. While nothing’s settled until passage, this appears to be one of few issues that won’t be affected by ongoing debate – a key House member said as much at a recent news event.
  • Halfway on health care? While House Armed Services Committee (HASC) members included language that would put a stop to a proposal to cut up to 18,000 medical billets, the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) has not. House committee members shared MOAA’s concerns about the potential consequences of cutting roughly 20 percent of the military’s medical force. They included language requiring DoD to study the issue further and report back to Congress.

Big Changes to Navy Medical Pay – FY19 Medical Department Special Pays Guidance

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Here are the official BUMED talking points on the FY19 special pays plan. The pay plan guidance for each Corps is expected to be released early next week.

NOTE: The guidance currently posted on the BUMED special pays website is from FY18 and not FY19.  This new guidance only applies to FY19 pays.

Background:

Navy Medicine’s mission does not change – to keep the Navy and Marine Corps family healthy, ready and on the job. Ensuring the Department of the Navy has a ready medical force to meet assigned operational missions remains paramount. To do this, we must maximize recruitment and retention tools such as special and incentive pay to attract and retain medical department officers with critical specialties.

Navy Medicine is responsible for properly aligning its uniformed force structure to support the medical capabilities of the Navy and Marine Corps operating forces. The Fiscal Year 2019 special pays guidance focuses on meeting congressional intent of NDAA 2017 which specifically focuses on the improvement of infrastructure and alignment to operational readiness.

Navy Medicine analyzed current manning data, end-strength forecasts, loss and retention rates, training timeframes, recruitment rates, and Department of Labor statistics to craft the FY19 Medical Department Special Pays Guidance.

 

Key Messages:

  • The Department of Defense and the Navy are taking a critical look at force structure across the services and within each military department in an effort to align to defense planning guidance priorities and to meet CNO guidance.
  • Navy Medicine is managing its medical force to meet the needs of the Navy and Marine Corps.
  • Navy Medicine must have properly aligned uniformed force structure to meet the medical capabilities of the Navy and Marine Corps operating forces.
  • Navy Medicine uses special and incentive pay, coupled with other personnel management tools, to influence recruitment and retention behavior and ensure we have the right specialty mix, experience, and talent to meet our mission.

Talking Points:

  • Changes to the FY19 Medical Department Special Pays Guidance provide Navy Medicine with significant flexibility and enhanced options for the recruitment and retention of needed specialties.
  • Navy Medicine increased accession and retention numbers in key specialty areas.
  • Navy Medicine carefully considered these changes to optimize personnel career progression and talent management.
  • The vast majority of officers eligible for special and incentive pays within Navy Medicine will be minimally impacted; there will be some impact on a few select specialties.
  • Updates include the following:
    • Accession Bonus:
      • Updated list of eligible specialties for the Critically Short Wartime Skills Accession Bonus to include cardio-thoracic surgery, trauma/critical care surgery, and medical technology, and eliminated internal medicine, otolaryngology, ophthalmology, and pediatrics.
      • Increased accession bonus amounts for critical specialties to include aerospace medicine, anesthesia, emergency medicine, family practice, orthopedics, preventive medicine, psychiatry, pulmonary/critical care, radiology, urology, and nurse anesthetist.
      • Authorized a direct accession critical care nurse to forgo the accession bonus and request retention bonus upon reporting to the first permanent command (must meet board certification & education/training criteria).
    • Retention Bonus:
      • Added 6-year retention bonus for critical specialties to include general surgery, category I subspecialties, orthopedics, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, family practice, psychiatry, pulmonary/critical care, comprehensive dentistry, periodontics, prosthodontics, oral maxillofacial surgery, physician assistant, clinical psychology, critical care nursing, psychiatric nursing, perioperative nursing, psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioners, family nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists.
      • Added additional eligible specialties for the retention bonus to include graduate prepared Clinical Nurse Specialists in medical-surgical and emergency room nursing (must meet board certification and education/training criteria).
      • Authorized critical care nurses and family nurse practitioners to take retention bonuses while under obligation for graduate education through Duty Under Instruction (DUINS), incurring a consecutive obligation.
      • Authorized critical care nurses to apply for selection to DUINS as Clinical Nurse Specialists in critical care nursing while under retention bonus.
      • Removed language allowing 2-year Retention Bonus for non-certified critical care nurses.
      • Limited ability to terminate early and renegotiate contracts for certain specialties to include pediatrics, radiology, radiation oncology, general dentistry, endodontics, exodontia, public health dentistry, oral pathology, pediatric dentistry, pharmacy, optometry, pediatric nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioners, and certified nurse midwife.
      • Limited Nurse Corps retention bonus to Commander/O-5 for all specialties except nurse anesthetists.
      • Limited Medical Service Corps retention bonus to 22 years of commissioned service or less.
      • Limited retention bonus length to 2 or 3-years for pharmacy, optometry, pediatric nurse practitioner, and certified nurse midwife.
  • All personnel who are eligible for medical department special pays should review their corps specific guidance available on the Navy Medicine website.

MyNavy Career Center Open for Business 24/7

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A 24/7 option for anyone with pay or personnel questions is now available. The details are in these two articles:

MyNavy Career Center Open for Business 24/7

Navy upgrades virtual personnel support to 24/7 help — what you need to know now

Stripes.com Article – Military Pay Raise, 15,000 New Troops, Promotion Reforms: 5 Key Aspects of the 2019 Defense Budget

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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.

Guest Post – Conversion to the New Pay Plan Can Adversely Impact Your TSP

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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:

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When DFAS completed the retroactive pay changes, $785.93 was removed from my 2017 TSP contribution total:

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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.