FRA Newsbytes – 12-6-13

Congressional December Rush Begins

The agreement that ended the government shutdown on October 16, 2013 only funds the government until January 15, 2014 and extends the debt ceiling until February 7, 2014, and creates House and Senate conference committees to resolve budget differences by December 13, 2013. Congress still needs to pass the 2014 Defense Authorization bill, make the “doc fix” permanent or extend the deadline, and complete work on spending legislation before leaving town for the rest of the year.

The Senate needs to pass the Defense Authorization bill (S. 1197) next week. Then, the House and Senate must resolve differences between their respective versions of the bill before sending it to the president to sign into law before Congress leaves town for the holiday. Weigh in on pending Senate floor amendments.

Congress needs to prevent a 24 percent cut in Medicare/TRICARE doctor reimbursement rates that will take effect January 1, 2014 if Congress does not extend or make the “doc fix” permanent. Ask your elected officials to make the “doc fix” permanent.  

Congress must pass spending bills for FY 2014 or at least pass another Continuing Resolution by January 15, 2014 to keep the government operating. FRA is urging legislators to exclude Defense from punitive sequestration cuts. The next round of sequestration cuts must be implemented by January 15, 2014 unless Congress acts. Tell the president, your senators, and your representative that these arbitrary cuts to Defense will create a "hollow force" and will endanger national security.

The Department of Defense has announced that it may close stateside commissaries as a cost savings measure. Shopping at a major facility in the United States helps out the facilities overseas and at remote locations. Shutting down stateside commissaries will impact those who need it most. DeCA employs nearly 100,000 people, of whom almost 62% are veterans or military family members. DeCA also helps with the problem of veterans’ unemployment. Ask your legislators to keep our commissaries open. 

TRICARE Dental Premiums Scheduled to Increase

The Defense Health Agency has issued notice that effective February 1, 2014 TRICARE Dental Program (TDP) monthly premium rates will change. These rate changes are regular annual increases that are part of the TDP contract. Premiums can be paid via a member’s payroll allotment/deduction. Members who are not able to pay using this method can opt for electronic funds transfer or credit card payments. Visit for information regarding payment options.

CRDP/CRSC Open Season in January

Retired service members who are eligible for both Concurrent Retirement and Disability Pay (CRDP) and Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC), can participate in the CRDP/CRSC open season to select which payment they prefer to receive. Federal law states that retirees can receive CRDP or CRSC, but not both. This year's annual open season is Jan. 1, 2014, to Jan. 31, 2014.

Beginning in late December 2013, all eligible retirees will be mailed a CRDP/CRSC Open Season Election Form. Retirees need to return the form only if making a change from CRDP to CRSC or vice versa. If a retiree prefers to keep things the way they are, no action is needed and the current payment will continue uninterrupted. If a retiree wants to change from CRDP to CRSC or vice versa, the form needs to be completed, mailed and postmarked no later than Jan. 31, 2014.

The DFAS website includes a comparison of the CRDP and CRSC entitlement amounts as well as information about the tax ramifications. 

If the form or envelope is dated after January 31, 2014, it will not be processed and the current payments will continue. Beneficiaries should return their form if they want a change before February 1, 2014. The estimated processing time is 30 days, allowing the change in pay to occur no later than the first business day of March. For March payments, there will be a retroactive adjustment for the payment that would have been paid on the first business day in February.

A beneficiary’s selection will remain in effect unless changed in a subsequent annual open season.

If you need help, contact DFAS at 800-321-1080. Customer service representatives are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (ET).

Day that Will Live in Infamy

FRA shipmates around the country will participate in events tomorrow, December 7, to remember the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, killing more than 2,300 Americans. This Saturday marks the 72nd anniversary of the attack, and FRA National President Virgil Courneya will be at Pearl Harbor to participate in ceremonies memorializing those who made the ultimate sacrifice on “the day that will live in Infamy.”