NewsBytes February 26, 2021


In this issue:
FRA and Others asks SecDef Not to Raise TRICARE Fees
Concurrent Receipt Legislation Introduced
Military Retiree Survivor Comfort Act



FRA and Others asks SecDef Not to Raise TRICARE Fees
The FRA and several other groups have dispatched a joint letter to the newly appointed Secretary of Defense (SecDef) Lloyd Austin, urging him not to include a TRICARE fee increase in his FY2022 Department of Defense (DoD) budget request. The letter reminds Austin that health care is one of the most important elements of the military compensation and benefits package. It is also a key benefit to retention. 

After two decades of unprecedented demands on the all-volunteer force, the cohort that served nearly their entire careers during wartime, is approaching retirement or have recently retired. At the same time, TRICARE fee increases have diminished the value of the health care benefit, particularly for retirees. Since major changes in the Military Healthcare System (MHS) were passed into law with the FY2017 NDAA, beneficiaries have faced a series of out-of-pocket cost increases. In 2018, copays for outpatient visits more than doubled. In 2018 and 2020, pharmacy copays increased, and biennial pharmacy copay hikes are programmed in statute through 2027. As of January 2021, Group A retirees on TRICARE Select have a new monthly enrollment fee and a higher catastrophic cap. 

The letter also urges SecDef to reconsider scheduled cuts to medical billets that were delayed due to the pandemic. FRA members are urged to use the Action Center located online (www.fra.org) to ask their legislators to oppose any proposed TRICARE fee increases. 



Concurrent Receipt Legislation Introduced
The FRA-supported legislation to expand concurrent receipt has been introduced in the House and Senate. Rep. Gus Bilirakis (Fla.) has introduced legislation (H.R.303) that extends Concurrent Retirement and Disability Pay (CRDP) eligibility to retirees who are rated less than 50 percent disabled. Rep. Sanford Bishop (Ga.) has introduced the “Disabled Veterans Tax Termination Act” (H.R.303), which is comprehensive concurrent receipt legislation that includes the elements of H.R.303 and would also give concurrent receipt to CRDP retirees whose disability ratings are below 50 percent as well as to Chapter 61 retirees with less than 20 years of service.

Rep. Bilirakis (Fla.) and Sen. Jon Tester (Mont.) have introduced the “Major Richard Star Act” (H.R.1282, S.344 respectively) that expands concurrent receipt to include Combat Related Special Compensation (CRSC) beneficiaries who are medically retired with less than 20 years of service. 

Members are strongly urged to use the FRA Action Center to ask their legislators to support these bills. 



Military Retiree Survivor Comfort Act
Rep. John Garamendi (Calif.) will introduce the “Military Retiree Survivor Comfort Act” at the FRA’s request. This bill would allow for the retention of the full final month’s retired pay by the surviving spouse (or other designated survivor) of a military retiree for the month in which the member was alive for at least 24 hours.

Surviving spouses who are unaware that the Defense Finance and Accounting Services (DFAS) should be notified immediately on the death of the military retiree are surprised to learn of this requirement. Those who had joint bank accounts, in which retirement payments were made electronically, gave little if any thought that DFAS could swoop down and recoup any overpayments of retirement pay from such accounts. This action could easily clear the account of any funds remaining whether they were retirement payments or money from other sources. Instead of withdrawing the payment all at once the bill would allow a gradual repayment over 12 months. The bill also gives the Secretary of Defense the option to forgive the over payment. 

Members are strongly urged to use the FRA Action Center to weigh in on this issue.  


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