special pays

How Much Do You Get Paid as a Navy Doctor?

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I received a few e-mails asking for help figuring out physician pay in the Navy, and this is a long overdue blog post. In the spreadsheet below is the pay info for the various stages as you move throughout your Navy Medical Corps Career. I’m making a few assumptions:

  • These are FY20 pay numbers (since the FY21 pay plan is not out yet).
  • You promote at the normal times (O4 at 6 years, O5 at 12 years, and O6 at 18 years).
  • Basic Allowance for Housing is with dependents in San Diego. You can personalize this here.
  • The specialty is Emergency Medicine. You can look at the different amounts for other specialties here.
  • You pass your boards and become board-certified after residency.

For those who don’t want to look at the spreadsheet, here are the bottom line annual salaries:

  • New O3 intern – $95,976
  • O3 GMO – $121,803
  • Mid-grade O3 EM Resident – $120,348
  • New O4 EM Attending – $180,249
  • O5 EM Attending on a 6-Year Retention Bonus – $264,665
  • O6 EM Attending on a 6-Year Retention Bonus – $287,878

Here’s the spreadsheet with hyperlinks:

Special Pays Update – Senate Proposal to Increase Pays and BUMED Pays Update

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FY21 NDAA – SASC Bill Released

Please note the good news below, including a PROPOSED increase in special pays, in the legislative summary from the BUMED Legislative Liaison. While it is just a proposal at this point, at least it is a sign that they read the GAO report that concluded that military physicians are grossly underpaid and that they appreciate the extra efforts everyone has been giving due to COVID:

The SASC has released their version of the FY21 NDAA. Please note the bill still needs to be voted on by the Senate, which will include amendments being proposed. I have attached two modified documents: One includes sections 602 and 612 (described below), the other includes all of Title VII – Health Care Provisions. The full bill can be found here.

Below is a brief summary of notable legislative provisions included in the Bill:

Sec. 602. Hazardous duty pay for members of the Armed Forces performing duty in response to the Coronavirus Disease 2019.

Sec. 612. Increase in special and incentive pays for officers in health professions. This provision increases the amounts of the accession bonus, retention bonus, incentive pay, and board certification pay.

Sec. 703. Waiver of fees charged to certain civilians for emergency medical treatment provided at military medical treatment facilities. A military MTF may waive a fee charged to a civilian who in not a covered beneficiary under certain conditions. Please note there is related report language (to be conducted by GAO) in Sec. 751 entitled Assessment of receipt by civilians of emergency medical treatment at military medical treatment facilities.

Sec. 721. Modifications to transfer of Army Medical Research and Development Command and public health commands to Defense Health Agency. While this section is largely focused on Army and preserving the infrastructure and personnel of MRMC/MRDC, it does include language very similar to the house language with respect to delaying the transition of R&D and PH to DHA. The HASC is delaying until 2025, SASC is 2024.

Sec. 748. Audit of medical conditions of tenants in privatized military housing. GAO audit of the medical conditions of eligible individuals and the association between adverse exposures of such individuals in unsafe or unhealthy housing units and the health of such individuals.

With both the HASC and SASC bills moving to the floor of their respective chambers, we will keep you updated if we find anything of significant interest to Navy Medicine from amendments that are adopted. Once the House and Senate pass their versions of the bill, we will produce a Navy Medicine Leadership Side-by-Side including both versions of the Bill.

One of my Army colleagues sent me this summary of the proposed changes to the maximum pay caps:

  1. HPO Accession Bonus (AB) from $30,000/yr. to $100,000/yr.
  2. Critically Short Wartime Specialty Accession Bonus (CSWSAB) from $100,000/yr. to $200,000/yr.
  3. Retention Bonus (RB) from $75,000/yr. to $150,000/yr.
  4. 4. Incentive Pay (IP) for physicians and dentists from $100,000/yr. to $200,000/yr. and ancillary specialties from $15,000/yr. to $50,000/yr.
  5. Board Certification Pay (BCP) from $6,000/yr. to $15,000/yr.

 

Special Pays Update from BUMED

Here is a cut/paste of a message e-mailed to the Special Pay POCs that spells out the various Incentive Pays (IPs). As usual, anyone with questions should address them with their command admin/HRD, or to the BUMED Special Pays email address:

usn.ncr.bumedfchva.mbx.specialpays-bumed@mail.mil

Subject: IMPORTANT-INCENTIVE PAY DATES UPCOMING THIS SUMMER (UNCLASSIFIED)

Ladies and Gentlemen, please make sure this email is disseminated as much as possible. As you can see by all the names and email addresses, there are a large number of contacts for the special pays office, and this is only the ones we are aware of, and we communicate with on a regular basis. There are even more than this we work with, but do not necessarily have up to date POCs identified, such as Fleet Support Teams etc.

This email is to remind everyone of the dates for submitting for Incentive Pay, which particularly for Medical Corps is vital in the summer months. This information is also in the Pay Guidance for each Corps, and the Special Pays Information Power Point under reference on the BUMED Special Pays webpage.

For those MC completing residency 30 June, the GMO IP should have already been submitted to BUMED Special Pays. If not then get it done ASAP. For all commands when a MC or DC officer completes a residency 30 June, they cannot submit for the specialty IP until 60 days out from the effective date, which means if they completed the residency at another command they cannot submit for the specialty IP until they are at your command. Make sure individuals checking in are advised on when, and how to submit, for the IP at your command. DO NOT assume they know, or someone else in the command will tell them. Send out emails, advisories, or anything that will get out to your command telling them they need to submit. We are continuing to receive too many retroactive requests, and many do not have justification to support why an officer has not been paid for over a year.

Medical Corps –

New interns reporting to AD from Medical school via USUHS or HPSP etc. Eligibility for IP is 3 months after completing medical school, and on AD, so if an officer completes Med School 3 May 2020, is eligible for Internship IP effective 3 August 2020, provided on AD on that date.

Residency IP – If completing Internship eligible for IP 3 months after completing internship, but must be licensed. If not licensed at 3 months, then not eligible for IP until become licensed, and eligibility date is date licensed. If entering residency after GMO/UMO/Flight Surgery tour, then eligibility date is residency start date, and must submit.

GMO IP – If completing internship, same as residency IP, 3 months after completing internship, and licensed. If completing residency, eligible for GMO IP day after completing residency if residency completed while on AD.

Specialty IP – 3 months after completing residency/fellowship.

Dental Corps –

General Dentist IP – 3 months after completing dental school, and must be licensed. If not licensed at 3 months, then eligibility date is date licensed.

Specialty IP – Same as MC specialty IP, 3 months after completing residency.

MSC/NC –

Specialty IP is same as MC specialty IP 3 months after completing qualifying training program.

Throwback Thursday Classic Post: Reminder to Graduating Residents – You are Now Eligible for GMO Incentive Pay

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Congratulations to those who are about to graduate residency. Please note the following at the bottom of page 3 of the FY20 Medical Corps Active Component Special Pays Guidance where it discusses General Medical Officer (GMO) Incentive Pay (IP):

Medical Corps officers who complete initial residency on active duty are eligible for the GMO IP the day after completing residency.  For those who complete residency not on active duty eligibility is the date reported to first permanent command, if less than three months after completing residency.

This means you need to go to your Special Pays coordinator and apply for the GMO IP. It increases you from a residency IP of $8,000 per year to the GMO IP of $20,000 per year.

Throwback Thursday Classic Guest Post – The Fellowship-Retention Bonus “Loophole” Still Exists; Are You Eligible?

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By Dustin Schuett, DO

Note: The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Navy, Department of Defense or the United States Government.

The 2018 Navy Graduate Medical Education Selection Board results were released 12 DEC 2018. For a select few Navy physicians pursuing fellowship, the opportunity exists to take a Retention Bonus (RB, formerly Multi-year Specialty Pay) and pay back their fellowship obligation and the RB obligation concurrently without extending their Navy commitment.

To be eligible, the physician must meet all of the following requirements:

  1. Be at 8 years or more of active duty time in the Medical Corps.
  2. Have completed all pre-commissioning obligation time:
    • All initially obligated HPSP/USUHS/HSCP time AND any ROTC or USNA obligated time
    • This does not include residency obligation time

Essentially, if you went to medical school on a 4 year HPSP scholarship, have completed or will have completed 4 or more years of combined GMO and post-residency payback time BEFORE starting fellowship and have 8 total years active duty Medical Corps time, you’re likely eligible.

Here is my personal example:

4 year HPSP > 1 year internship > 2 years as a GMO > 5 years of residency > 2 years post-residency staff time (4 total including GMO time) = 4 years of total payback completing HPSP obligation, 10 years in Medical Corps

As an orthopaedic surgeon, our annual Incentive Pay (IP) is $59,000. I was able to take a 3 year RB which increases my IP to $73,000 annually plus an additional $33,000 lump sum paid annually for a total of $106,000/year, a $47,000 increase per year without increasing my obligation time.

If you have questions about special pay, please follow the current BUMED guidance:

Members should contact their command administration office/special pays coordinator with any questions they have. The command administration office/special pay coordinators will contact BUMED Special Pays should they have questions that cannot be answered or require clarification of the FY20 Pay Guidance.

For more information, see the Medical Corps Special Pay Guidance that can be found on the BUMED Special Pays website.

Good Luck!

Updated Special Pays Frequently Asked Questions – 4 MAR Edition

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As you can imagine, we’ve been getting a lot of questions in the Corps Chief’s Office about the FY20 pay plan. We’ve compiled a list of the questions so far and answers. Here they are with new ones noted in bold right at the top:

Q – Will BUMED be treating Active Duty Service Obligation (ADSO) associated with Career Intermission Program (CIP) as other AD obligations associated with non-medical training? Some physicians use the CIP for medical training (e.g. fellowship).

A – Per paragraph 3.a.(2)(a) page 4 of the Pay Guidance, an officer under obligation for CIP is not eligible to enter an RB. The reason for CIP (medical or non-medical) does not make any difference.

 

Q – I thought I paid back my HPSP obligation during residency, so how do I still have obligated service?

A – Any time spent in Navy-funded training does not count toward repayment of obligation from your commissioning program (ROTC, HPSP, USUHS, USNA). Internship is neutral, which means that you neither incur any obligated service for it nor does it count as payback. Time spent as a GMO, UMO, or Flight Surgeon does count towards repayment of your commissioning program obligation.

 

Q – Is there any guidance on dual board certified MDs? For example, I am dual boarded in Family Medicine and Preventive Medicine. The Family Medicine bonus is affected, but Preventive Medicine is not. Is there any action required or impact expected?

A –If you are getting a Preventive Med RB, no action is required (unless it is time to sign a new RB). If you are getting an FM RB, then your RB will continue to pay at the current rate until the expiration of your contract. If it is time to sign a new RB, then you need to look at the different RB bonus rates to determine which specialty RB you want to receive. One caveat – please remember that you must be actively privileged and practicing in the specialty for which you are receiving the RB.

 

Q – For newly board certified physicians, what is the difference between a board certification pay (BCP) request and a retroactive BCP request? For example, you passed your board on 1 Jan 2020, but were waiting to put the request in for BCP until the FY20 NAVADMIN was released and you lack the letter from your board confirming that you have passed the boards (which will come later in the spring). Must you wait to request BCP until the physical letter arrives, or is there other proof of board certification (e.g. screen shot, web print out) that one can provide as substantiating documentation?

A – A retroactive BCP request is simply a request for BCP that begins at a date that has already passed. In order to receive BCP, you must provide proof of your board certification date, which is not necessarily the day you took your board exam. You can do this one of two ways: (1) provide a copy of the official notification from your ABMS board that you are board certified as of whatever date, or (2) ask your local credentials office to verify your board certification status for you and then submit the primary source verification (PSV) as proof of board certification through your local special pays coordinator.

 

Q – If an AD member in a specialty for which pays were reduced (OB/GYN, Peds, etc.) wanted to transfer GI Bill benefits to a child, which incurs a new service obligation, would that member would no longer be eligible to take a retention bonus for the four year obligation associated with the GI Bill transfer?

A – Obligation associated with non-medical training (e.g. GI Bill, War College) does not disqualify you from accepting an RB. To put it another way, you can transfer your GI Bill to your child and still have your RB.

 

Q – If you are eligible for your continuation pay (8-12 years’ time in service) and you accept it, does that mean you can’t get a retention bonus if you are in those specialties that are not eligible for RB with any active duty service obligation?

A – No. Continuation pay is unrelated to RB eligibility. You can have continuation pay and your RB at the same time.

 

Q – Can I just resign/retire and/or ask for a waiver if I have an existing obligation, time in grade requirements, or time left on my current RB?

A – You are entitled to submit a request to resign or retire and/or submit a waiver request for any remaining service obligation, time in grade, etc. in order to facilitate resignation/retirement. Requests are routed through PERS. If granted (and that is a big if), however, the Navy may elect to recoup any extra special or incentive pays you have already received (e.g. the difference in the 4 year and 2 year RB amounts). Please see this page on waivers or this page on resignations for more information.

 

Q – The Special Pays instruction states in paragraph 2.a.(1) “Is serving in the Medical specialty for which the IP is being paid” and in 2.a.(3) “Member must continue to be credentialed, privileged, and practicing at a facility designated by the Surgeon General as an authorized medical facility, in the Medical specialty for which the IP is being paid”. For RB, it states under paragraph 3.a. “To be eligible for the AD RB, a Physician.meets the same eligibility requirements as for the active duty IP” and in 3.a.(5) is “practicing at a facility designated by the Navy as an authorized facility, in the Medical Specialty for which the RB is being paid, and maintain those for the length of the agreement”. According to Table 2, there is a clear distinction made between General Internal Medicine (IM) and the CAT IV Subspecialties. If I execute an IP/RB for a CAT IV Subspecialty, would I only practice in my Subspecialty and not be required to practice General IM?

A – No. The Navy requires you to maintain General IM privileges regardless of subspecialty, so you must continue to do that. That said, you can only be paid an RB based on one specialty, even if you have privileges in multiple specialties. Since IM subspecialties are paid at a higher rate than General IM, you are better served collecting your IP/RB based on your CAT IV subspecialty.

 

Q – If I am on a 4-year retention bonus but that option no longer exists for my specialty, can they take it away?

A – No, per the guidance on the BUMED Special Pays website, “If a member is under an existing agreement, the officer will continue to be paid the rate in that agreement until it expires.”

 

Q – If you are in OB/GYN, Ophthalmology, Otolaryngology, Urology, Pathology, Family Medicine, General Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Nuclear Medicine, or Radiology, it appears you can no longer take a Retention Bonus (RB) if you have any obligated service when previously it was only your initial obligation that had to be repaid before you could take an RB. Is that correct?

A – Yes, that is correct. Paragraph 3.a.(6) on page 5 of the Medical Corps Special Pays guidance states that physicians in these specialties “are not eligible to enter an RB while under an Active Duty Service Obligation (ADSO) for medical education, training, or Special Pays RB.”  You cannot have any obligated service if you wish to sign up for an RB in these specialties during FY20.

 

Q – For the specialties that saw loss of the 4 year RB and/or reductions in IP/RB amounts, will time-in-grade (TIG) or service obligation (MSR) waivers be offered?

A – At present, no.  However, a draft NAVADMIN that addresses TIG and MSR waivers that is with PERS; it was placed on hold due to Congressional language which prohibits the military divestitures until a Report to Congress is submitted.  No timeline for a decision is available.

 

Q – The DFAS medical special pay website has different values/contracts available for FY-2020.  Are the major changes announced yesterday specific to the Navy and the Army/Air Force special pays for 2020 are reflected on this website?

A – The rates posted on the DFAS website are the maximum allowable payment rates set by DOD.  Physician pay plans are service-specific, and the services are allowed to pay “up to” those amounts.  The pay rates in the documents we sent yesterday (27 FEB) and that are available on the BUMED Special Pays Website are the relevant rates for the Navy in FY20.

 

Q – If I have a valid RB, is there anything I need to do?

A – No.  There is no longer a need to submit an annual request.  Your IP and RB will continue to pay at the current rate through the expiration of your contract.

 

Q – Why is Family Medicine one of the specialties affected by the reductions when it’s not currently overmanned?

A – The special pays plan was based on manning levels that incorporated some of the planned divestitures.  Yes, I know this seems to run counter to the NAVADMIN argument above.

 

Q – Does terminate and renegotiate extend the time owed?

A – Yes.  If you terminate and renegotiate, your obligation resets to day 0 on the effective date of the contract.  For example, if you currently have three years left on a 4 year contract (obligated until 2023) and you terminate and renegotiate for a 6 year RB, you would then be obligated through 2026.

 

Q – Are the RB and GME reductions temporary, or will they continue until some specialties are eliminated from Navy Medicine?

A – First, there are NO PLANS TO ELIMINATE ANY SPECIALTY(IES).  Special pays are reviewed yearly and are set based on current inventory compared to future requirements.  In the black and white world of the Comptroller, overmanned communities do not merit or require retention incentives; the fact that we can continue to offer something was a concession on their part.  However, although our office has strenuously advocated against this approach (as has much of BUMED) over the last 18 months, “voluntary” force shaping measures such as reduction of special and incentive pays are likely to persist until inventory matches requirements.

Updated Special Pays Frequently Asked Questions – 3 MAR Edition

Posted on Updated on

As you can imagine, we’ve been getting a lot of questions in the Corps Chief’s Office about the FY20 pay plan. We’ve compiled a list of the questions so far and answers. Here they are with new ones noted in bold:

Q – For newly board certified physicians, what is the difference between a board certification pay (BCP) request and a retroactive BCP request? For example, you passed your board on 1 Jan 2020, but were waiting to put the request in for BCP until the FY20 NAVADMIN was released and you lack the letter from your board confirming that you have passed the boards (which will come later in the spring). Must you wait to request BCP until the physical letter arrives, or is there other proof of board certification (e.g. screen shot, web print out) that one can provide as substantiating documentation?

A – A retroactive BCP request is simply a request for BCP that begins at a date that has already passed. In order to receive BCP, you must provide proof of your board certification date, which is not necessarily the day you took your board exam. You can do this one of two ways: (1) provide a copy of the official notification from your ABMS board that you are board certified as of whatever date, or (2) ask your local credentials office to verify your board certification status for you and then submit the primary source verification (PSV) as proof of board certification through your local special pays coordinator.

 

Q – If an AD member in a specialty for which pays were reduced (OB/GYN, Peds, etc.) wanted to transfer GI Bill benefits to a child, which incurs a new service obligation, would that member would no longer be eligible to take a retention bonus for the four year obligation associated with the GI Bill transfer?

A – Obligation associated with non-medical training (e.g. GI Bill, War College) does not disqualify you from accepting an RB. To put it another way, you can transfer your GI Bill to your child and still have your RB.

 

Q – If you are eligible for your continuation pay (8-12 years’ time in service) and you accept it, does that mean you can’t get a retention bonus if you are in those specialties that are not eligible for RB with any active duty service obligation?

A – No. Continuation pay is unrelated to RB eligibility. You can have continuation pay and your RB at the same time.

 

Q – Can I just resign/retire and/or ask for a waiver if I have an existing obligation, time in grade requirements, or time left on my current RB?

A – You are entitled to submit a request to resign or retire and/or submit a waiver request for any remaining service obligation, time in grade, etc. in order to facilitate resignation/retirement. Requests are routed through PERS. If granted (and that is a big if), however, the Navy may elect to recoup any extra special or incentive pays you have already received (e.g. the difference in the 4 year and 2 year RB amounts). Please see this page on waivers or this page on resignations for more information.

 

Q – The Special Pays instruction states in paragraph 2.a.(1) “Is serving in the Medical specialty for which the IP is being paid” and in 2.a.(3) “Member must continue to be credentialed, privileged, and practicing at a facility designated by the Surgeon General as an authorized medical facility, in the Medical specialty for which the IP is being paid”. For RB, it states under paragraph 3.a. “To be eligible for the AD RB, a Physician.meets the same eligibility requirements as for the active duty IP” and in 3.a.(5) is “practicing at a facility designated by the Navy as an authorized facility, in the Medical Specialty for which the RB is being paid, and maintain those for the length of the agreement”. According to Table 2, there is a clear distinction made between General Internal Medicine (IM) and the CAT IV Subspecialties. If I execute an IP/RB for a CAT IV Subspecialty, would I only practice in my Subspecialty and not be required to practice General IM?

A – No. The Navy requires you to maintain General IM privileges regardless of subspecialty, so you must continue to do that. That said, you can only be paid an RB based on one specialty, even if you have privileges in multiple specialties. Since IM subspecialties are paid at a higher rate than General IM, you are better served collecting your IP/RB based on your CAT IV subspecialty.

 

Q – If I am on a 4-year retention bonus but that option no longer exists for my specialty, can they take it away?

A – No, per the guidance on the BUMED Special Pays website, “If a member is under an existing agreement, the officer will continue to be paid the rate in that agreement until it expires.”

 

Q – If you are in OB/GYN, Ophthalmology, Otolaryngology, Urology, Pathology, Family Medicine, General Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Nuclear Medicine, or Radiology, it appears you can no longer take a Retention Bonus (RB) if you have any obligated service when previously it was only your initial obligation that had to be repaid before you could take an RB. Is that correct?

A – Yes, that is correct. Paragraph 3.a.(6) on page 5 of the Medical Corps Special Pays guidance states that physicians in these specialties “are not eligible to enter an RB while under an Active Duty Service Obligation (ADSO) for medical education, training, or Special Pays RB.”  You cannot have any obligated service if you wish to sign up for an RB in these specialties during FY20.

 

Q – For the specialties that saw loss of the 4 year RB and/or reductions in IP/RB amounts, will time-in-grade (TIG) or service obligation (MSR) waivers be offered?

A – At present, no.  However, a draft NAVADMIN that addresses TIG and MSR waivers that is with PERS; it was placed on hold due to Congressional language which prohibits the military divestitures until a Report to Congress is submitted.  No timeline for a decision is available.

 

Q – The DFAS medical special pay website has different values/contracts available for FY-2020.  Are the major changes announced yesterday specific to the Navy and the Army/Air Force special pays for 2020 are reflected on this website?

A – The rates posted on the DFAS website are the maximum allowable payment rates set by DOD.  Physician pay plans are service-specific, and the services are allowed to pay “up to” those amounts.  The pay rates in the documents we sent yesterday (27 FEB) and that are available on the BUMED Special Pays Website are the relevant rates for the Navy in FY20.

 

Q – If I have a valid RB, is there anything I need to do?

A – No.  There is no longer a need to submit an annual request.  Your IP and RB will continue to pay at the current rate through the expiration of your contract.

 

Q – Why is Family Medicine one of the specialties affected by the reductions when it’s not currently overmanned?

A – The special pays plan was based on manning levels that incorporated some of the planned divestitures.  Yes, I know this seems to run counter to the NAVADMIN argument above.

 

Q – Does terminate and renegotiate extend the time owed?

A – Yes.  If you terminate and renegotiate, your obligation resets to day 0 on the effective date of the contract.  For example, if you currently have three years left on a 4 year contract (obligated until 2023) and you terminate and renegotiate for a 6 year RB, you would then be obligated through 2026.

 

Q – Are the RB and GME reductions temporary, or will they continue until some specialties are eliminated from Navy Medicine?

A – First, there are NO PLANS TO ELIMINATE ANY SPECIALTY(IES).  Special pays are reviewed yearly and are set based on current inventory compared to future requirements.  In the black and white world of the Comptroller, overmanned communities do not merit or require retention incentives; the fact that we can continue to offer something was a concession on their part.  However, although our office has strenuously advocated against this approach (as has much of BUMED) over the last 18 months, “voluntary” force shaping measures such as reduction of special and incentive pays are likely to persist until inventory matches requirements.

Special Pays Frequently Asked Questions

Posted on Updated on

As you can imagine, we’ve been getting a lot of questions in the Corps Chief’s Office about the FY20 pay plan. We’ve compiled a list of the questions so far and answers. Here they are…

Q – If I am on a 4-year retention bonus but that option no longer exists for my specialty, can they take it away?

A – No, per the guidance on the BUMED Special Pays website, “If a member is under an existing agreement, the officer will continue to be paid the rate in that agreement until it expires.”

 

Q – If you are in OB/GYN, Ophthalmology, Otolaryngology, Urology, Pathology, Family Medicine, General Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Nuclear Medicine, or Radiology, it appears you can no longer take a Retention Bonus (RB) if you have any obligated service when previously it was only your initial obligation that had to be repaid before you could take an RB. Is that correct?

A – Yes, that is correct. Paragraph 3.a.(6) on page 5 of the Medical Corps Special Pays guidance states that physicians in these specialties “are not eligible to enter an RB while under an Active Duty Service Obligation (ADSO) for medical education, training, or Special Pays RB.”  You cannot have any obligated service if you wish to sign up for an RB in these specialties during FY20.

 

Q – For the specialties that saw loss of the 4 year RB and/or reductions in IP/RB amounts, will time-in-grade (TIG) or service obligation (MSR) waivers be offered?

A – At present, no.  However, a draft NAVADMIN that addresses TIG and MSR waivers that is with PERS; it was placed on hold due to Congressional language which prohibits the military divestitures until a Report to Congress is submitted.  No timeline for a decision is available.

 

Q – The DFAS medical special pay website has different values/contracts available for FY-2020.  Are the major changes announced yesterday specific to the Navy and the Army/Air Force special pays for 2020 are reflected on this website?

A – The rates posted on the DFAS website are the maximum allowable payment rates set by DOD.  Physician pay plans are service-specific, and the services are allowed to pay “up to” those amounts.  The pay rates in the documents we sent yesterday (27 FEB) and that are available on the BUMED Special Pays Website are the relevant rates for the Navy in FY20.

 

Q – If I have a valid RB, is there anything I need to do? 

A – No.  There is no longer a need to submit an annual request.  Your IP and RB will continue to pay at the current rate through the expiration of your contract.

 

Q – Why is Family Medicine one of the specialties affected by the reductions when it’s not currently overmanned?

A – The special pays plan was based on manning levels that incorporated some of the planned divestitures.  Yes, I know this seems to run counter to the NAVADMIN argument above.

 

Q – Does terminate and renegotiate extend the time owed?

A – Yes.  If you terminate and renegotiate, your obligation resets to day 0 on the effective date of the contract.  For example, if you currently have three years left on a 4 year contract (obligated until 2023) and you terminate and renegotiate for a 6 year RB, you would then be obligated through 2026.

 

Q – Are the RB and GME reductions temporary, or will they continue until some specialties are eliminated from Navy Medicine?

A – First, there are NO PLANS TO ELIMINATE ANY SPECIALTY(IES).  Special pays are reviewed yearly and are set based on current inventory compared to future requirements.  In the black and white world of the Comptroller, overmanned communities do not merit or require retention incentives; the fact that we can continue to offer something was a concession on their part.  However, although our office has strenuously advocated against this approach (as has much of BUMED) over the last 18 months, “voluntary” force shaping measures such as reduction of special and incentive pays are likely to persist until inventory matches requirements.

FY20 Special Pays Plan Released

Posted on Updated on

The FY20 pay plan NAVADMIN was released today. Here are the documents and below them is the message I sent to the Medical Corps today about the plan and changes:

The most common question I’ve received so far is what happens if you are already on a Retention Bonus (RB) and that option is removed for your specialty? For example, you are on a 4-year RB and they removed that option. In that case, you just continue on that RB agreement. There is no change, your pay doesn’t drop, and you don’t get kicked off of it.

 

ALCON,

The FY20 Medical Department Special Pays Plan has been released, is attached, and is available on the BUMED Special Pays Website. As a result, we’d like to provide some additional information and background.

As the National Defense Strategy (NDS) reminds us, “We have a responsibility to gain full value from every taxpayer dollar spent on defense, thereby earning the trust of Congress and the American people.” In this spirit, the Department of Defense is pursuing aggressive reforms to ensure resources are being put toward the highest priority activities. In doing so, we must be willing to make tough choices as we engage in the great power competition and execute the NDS.

As a result, Navy Medicine developed plans to align Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 special pays guidance with warfighter requirements and decided to reduce or eliminate some special and incentive pays for select medical specialties. This decision was not taken lightly, and was made within the greater context of supporting operational requirements, while balancing force structure and in a fiscally constrained environment. Special and incentive pay reductions were limited to what was absolutely necessary based on operational requirements. Major changes include:

  • Increased Incentive Pay with 4-year and 6-year Retention Bonus contracts for certain specialties to include anesthesiology, general surgery, neurosurgery, orthopedics, and subspecialty category I.
  • Limits ability to terminate early and renegotiate contracts for certain specialties to include: obstetrician/gynecology, ophthalmology, otolaryngology, urology, pathology, family medicine, general internal medicine, pediatrics, nuclear medicine, radiology, and radiation oncology.
  • Eliminates 6-year Retention Bonus for family medicine.
  • Eliminates 4-year Retention Bonus for certain specialties to include: obstetrician/gynecology, ophthalmology, otolaryngology, urology, pathology, family medicine, general internal medicine, pediatrics, nuclear medicine, radiology, and radiation oncology.
  • Reduces Retention Bonus dollar amounts by $2,000 per year for certain specialties to include: obstetrics/gynecology, ophthalmology, otolaryngology, urology, family medicine, and general internal medicine.
  • Reduces Retention bonus dollar amounts by $3,000 per year for certain specialties to include: pathology, pediatrics, radiology, and radiation oncology.

There are other changes not listed above, and the special pay changes are not at all related to the transition to DHA.

To the entire Medical Corps, we would like to emphasize that we will reassess special and incentive pay each year to determine if any changes need to be made to manage operational requirements. This is only a one year pay plan, and we will continue to advocate on your behalf to the best of our ability in future years. Some specialties are growing in both size and amounts of special pay offered. In addition, Navy Medicine continues to offer exciting opportunities to physicians that are generally unavailable in the private sector like flight training, Special Operations experience, undersea medicine, and others. Doing these unique things is why many of us joined the Navy.

To current medical students, interns, general medical officers, flight surgeons, and undersea medical officers, we’d like to emphasize that there will still be Graduate Medical Education opportunities available for all specialties. Some specialties are growing as Navy Medicine aligns to better support readiness and the warfighter.

As was sent out in yesterday’s notice, Specialty Leaders and individual officers should not contact the BUMED Special Pay office directly. The Special Pay Office will have an increased workload over the next several months with processing the requests received. Here is who everyone should communicate with:

  • Individual members should work through their Special Pay Coordinators with questions.  Should the Coordinators have questions, they are the liaison to the BUMED Special Pays office.
  • Specialty Leaders should reach out to CDR Melissa Austin in my office with questions, and I will serve as an alternate POC. For questions we can’t answer, we will work to get you the answers ASAP.

Thank you for everything you do every day for the Medical Corps.

V/R,

Joel M. Schofer, MD, MBA, CPE, FAAEM, FAAPL

Latest Special Pays Update

Posted on Updated on

Here is the update posted on the BUMED Special Pays Website a few days ago:

16 January 2020: The NAVADMIN releasing the approved FY20 Medical Department Special & Incentive Pay Plan is expected to be signed and released in the coming weeks, Until that time, the following clarifications are provided:

  • If an officer’s eligibility date for a special pay is on, or after, 1 October 2019, the request cannot be submitted until the FY20 Medical Department Special & Incentive Pay Plan is approved and released. The NAVADMIN is the authority from Chief, Navy Personnel authorizing Chief, BUMED to execute the special pays in FY20.
  • Once the NAVADMIN is released, medical department officers will have 30 days from the date of release to submit a special pay request effective 1 October 2019, or the date the officer became eligible if after 1 October 2019.
  • Requests for Retention Bonus effective 30 September 2019, or earlier, cannot be submitted until the NAVADMIN is released, as the guidance governing these requests is included in the FY20 Medical Department Special & Incentive Pay Plan.