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FAQ

Question:
Are 100% service connected disabled veterans eligible to hop flights? My id card is a DD FORM 2765, but I’m told that I would have to have a DD FORM 2 (the blue retiree id card) to hop a flight. I didn’t retire from the military, but can a 100% SC veteran be issued a DD FORM 2 card?

Answer:

Space-A travel is one of the more restricted military benefits. Even though you are entitled to many veterans’ benefits, Space-A travel privilege is not one of them at this time. It is limited to veterans who are military retirees.

Question:
Under what circumstances is it authorized for a retired serviceman to wear his uniform in public?

Answer:

The rules vary by service branch, but in all cases, veterans and retirees can wear the rank and insignia currently in use, or the rank and insignia in use at the time of their discharge/retirement, but cannot mix the two. The rules for each branch can be found in links on this page:http://usmilitary.about.com/od/theorderlyroom/a/retuniformwear.htm

Question:
Are adopted children eligible for education benefits?

Answer:

In general, dependent children of service members (including biological children, legally adopted children, foster children, and stepchildren) are entitled to a great number of benefits, including health care and education benefits. To ensure the benefits are received, when a service members adopts a child, they must report this new dependent to the military in DEERS.

Question:
I have lost all of my military information. I would like to find out about my life insurance policy if I have one through the military and also information about being buried at the federal cemetery in Leavenworth. Do I have any benefits that I could be using right now? I need a veterans military card with my number to show I was in the military.

Answer:

Many veterans benefits depend on your length in the service, and the time since you were discharged, so without more details I can’t tell you if you have benefits you could be using. The good news, though, is that you can order your military personnel records from the National Archives in St. Louis and then use those to get an ID card and sign up for any benefits that you have remaining. Visit the Archives website for instructions on how to order your records: http://www.archives.gov/st-louis/military-personnel/

Question:
Hi, what is this COLA for veterans? Is it for all veterans or just disabled veterans. I have been out of the Army since 2010. If I am eligible, how do I apply for benefits?

Answer:

COLA is the Cost-of-Living-Adjustment that is applied to veterans’ disability compensation, dependency and indemnity compensation for survivors, and pensions of low-income combat veterans. If you are receiving any of these benefits, the COLA is automatically added to your payments at the beginning of the year. You do not need to do anything additional to receive the adjustment.

Question:
I am looking for information on entitlements’ for moving house hold goods. I was told by my PSD in Honolulu I do not receive any advance for travel. I would need to file my claim when we reach our destination. I wanted to find out the amount my family and I get per mile for driving from Oakland, CA to Denver, CO, and amount of per diem. I just want to make sure I am reimbursed for what I’m entitled. I assumed I would get advanced travel just like any other military move, but was told I did not get any advance by the PSD in Hawaii. Is this true, and do you know what instruction I can reference to for information on retired moves? Thanks.

Answer:

Because you have asked about multiple expenses (moving household goods, per diem travel rates, a mileage, the best place to start is the Defense Travel Management Office’s website (DTMO). All of the charts needed to calculate these expenses can be found in links on this page: http://www.defensetravel.dod.mil

Question:
I am getting the run around from Human Resource Command (HRC) about my Date Initially Entered Military Service (DIEMS).  I entered the US Military Academy 2 July 1979 and HRC is putting my Date of DIEMS date at the end of my Academy time.  I have looked up several references in United States Code, DA Regulation etc. and found stated in the law that cadets are under the UCMJ and are part of the Army. As defined by law the time at the Academy cannot count toward retirement, but in identifying that time the law identifies the start of my military service in my mind and according to other documents, people and United States Code.  I understand that the actual time does not count and have known this for a long time which is what HRC keeps throwing at me as justification for their action, but as you state in your retirement guide the date of entry does not change.  They now claim that I have to put my case before an arbitration board and claim “they have won for their side at these boards.”  Who do I contact to get them to follow what I see as clearly the law to right this problem for me and the service members that entered on the earlier side of 8 SEP 1980 and graduated or were commissioned on the other side and are now given the later date as a DIEMS?

Answer:

Unfortunately, I do not have one contact person who could force them to recognize the correct date. However, rather than use our handbook as a reference, you could show them the information we used as our source: the Military Pay information on Defense.gov (http://militarypay.defense.gov/retirement/). The first unique circumstance they cite (which isn’t very unique) relates to you. “The DIEMS for Academy graduates who entered the Academy with no prior service is the date they reported to the Academy, not the date they graduated.” I’m not sure how they can argue with citations from the Department of Defense itself. Good luck in your fight!

Question:
I am 100% service-disabled veteran. My wife and I have legal guardianship of our two granddaughters; one 17, the other 13. Is there any assistance or a VA program for college I can have the oldest apply for?

Answer:

If you are the legal guardian of your granddaughters and they receive other military dependent benefits, they should be eligible for most of the scholarships and programs designated for any military dependent. As many are run by private organizations, you might have to check on the individual scholarship application to be sure. We have several listed on our website here: http://www.militaryauthority.com/benefits/education/scholarships/military-scholarships.html Another good resource for scholarship information and other ways to pay for college is the Military Children’s Scholarship Handbook you can download for free at http://militaryhandbooks.com.

Question:
My deceased husband was a veteran and I have two children starting college. I’m wondering if there is any scholarships available for my children.

Answer:

There are dozens of scholarships set aside for children of service members. Some are for specific circumstances such as branch of service or if the sponsor was killed in the line of duty. We have several listed on our website here: http://www.militaryauthority.com/benefits/education/scholarships/military-scholarships.html Another good resource for scholarship information and other ways to pay for college is the Military Children’s Scholarship Handbook you can download for free at http://militaryhandbooks.com.

Question:
I am a disabled veteran from the Vietnam era and unemployed.  I am trying to determine if I would qualify for the tax credit if I am hired by another company.  I have been unemployed since 11/2012.

Answer:

I’m sorry to hear that you are unemployed. So many of our veterans are right now. But the tax credit you are referring to would go to the hiring employer, not to you as the employee. It is the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, and it could be something you could mention to a potential employer during a job interview.

Question:
I would like information on benefits (money for college) for reservist who already served.

Answer:

The Reserve Education Assistance Program (REAP) was established for service members like yourself. There is no time limit on this benefit while you remain in the same level of the Ready Reserve. There are exceptions for discharge due to disability or transfer from the IRR to the Selected Reserve. REAP participants who separated from the Selected Reserve after completing their service contract under other than dishonorable conditions are now eligible for REAP benefits for 10 years after they are separated from the Selected Reserve. You can learn more about REAP benefits here: http://www.militaryauthority.com/benefits/education/reap/

Question:
Hello, I am a widow, I am 67 years old. I am considering getting married again. Would I lose my TriCare for Life and Base privileges?

Answer:

As a widow,you remain eligible for Tricare coverage for life and many of the base privileges, as long as you do not remarry. Once you remarry, though, you are no longer a beneficiary of the deceased sponsor. Your eligibility could not be restored even if a new marriage were to end in death or divorce.

Question:
Hello, I am a veteran of the Army.  I was in the Army for two years.  I was in the Army from 1960-1962.  Do I have any benefits?  Also, can I shop at the commissary at the Camp Lejeune Base?

Answer:

Prior to 1980, there was no minimum length of service necessary to be considered a veteran for most VA benefits, so you would be eligible for VA services as long as you did not receive a dishonorable discharge. Education and training benefits do have a time limit, however, with most expiring 10 to 14 years from last date of service. Commissary privileges only extend to active duty, Guard and Reserve members, military retirees, Medal of Honor recipients, 100 percent disabled veterans, and their authorized family members.

Question:
I am trying to get information on the rights of Term Employees if the employment is terminated prior to the Not to Exceed date,  Are the rules different if the employee is a Rehired (Re-employed) Annuitant?

Answer:

Term appointments by definition are made to cover a single project, an extraordinary workload or when there is uncertainty of future funding. The not-to-exceed date is not a guarantee of employment until that date. Because a project can end early, the workload can be reduced or funds are lost, a term appointment can end at any time. As a rehired annuitant, you may be eligible to enroll in FEHB, just as any other new employee would.

Question:
I am in the Army Reserves, I have been for almost 21 years.  I recieved my 20 year letter last year but I have recently been promoted to an E-6 position (December 2012).  How long must I obtaim an E-6 status in order to retire at E-6 status?

Answer:

Good luck! Planning early is the key and you are asking all of the right questions now.

Question:
I am rated as 100% disabled. What are my Va copaments?

Answer:

That chapter also outlines various annuity estimates based on contributions and withdrawals you have made to the CSRS during your employment.

Question:
my daughter is a medical professional with the VA hospital in richmond,virginia.  i need to get a copy of the handbook that outlines her employee rights and the grievance and/or termination policy and procedures.  HR at the facility is completely unhelpful.

Answer:

In Chapter 5 of our handbook, we lay out a retirement plan that begins as far as 5 years out from retirement. That obviously won’t all apply to you, but you can start with the One Year before retiring, Six Months before, Two months before and so on.

Question:
I plan to retire 1 Nov 14. I am also a CSRS recipient and had one withdrawal that I never paid back. How can I ensure everything is correct in my particular situation and will be finished in time? When should I really start putting in papers–not too early or too late?

Answer:

“Those are all very good questions. Please download the Federal Retirement Handbook from federalhandbooks.com. It will provide you more details than I can in one message. In Chapter 5 of the handbook, we lay out a retirement plan that begins as far as 5 years out from retirement. That obviously won’t all apply to you, but you can start with the One Year before retiring, Six Months before, Two months before and so on.
That chapter also outlines various annuity estimates based on contributions and withdrawals you have made to the CSRS during your employment.
Good luck! Planning early is the key and you are asking all of the right questions now.”

Question:
I am curious about your blog entry from April 2013, in which you state “Appointments involved with intermittent or seasonal work may be extended indefinitely, if extensions are made in increments of one year or less and the employment totals less than six months (1,040 hours), excluding overtime, in a service year.”  Can you tell me where I might find that in the OPM code?  I know someone who has been working 80 hours/pay period 50 weeks a year for four years, and if the above statement from your blog is true, than he should not be an intermittent employee.

Answer:

Was your friend hired for a “temporary appointment”? Intermittent and season refer to the work schedule, not the length of the appointment. Seasonal and intermittent employees can be either permanent or temporary employees. In 1994, temporary appointments were limited to 2 years because a “temporary” employee who died in his 8th year on the job was not eligible for death benefits because his job was labeled “temporary.” Here is a link to the full explanation from the OPM: https://www.opm.gov/news/testimony/111th-congress/temporary-employee-practices-how-long-does-temporary-last/

Question:
I am trying to find something that says that I am authorized or something that says I am not authorized to use sick leave for travel to and from a medical appointment. Am I required to take annual leave for travel to and from a medical appointment then use sick leave for the medical appt? Do you have any suggestions?

Answer:

The Office of Personnel Management lists three personal medical uses for sick leave on their fact sheet (http://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/leave-administration/fact-sheets/sick-leave-general-information/): receiving a medical, dental or optical exam/treatment; incapactitation by physical or mental illness, injury, pregnancy or childbirth; and if you would jeopardize the health of others by your presence. It wouldn’t make much sense to take 30 minutes of annual leave to drive to an appointment, use 2 hours of sick leave while at the doctor’s office, and take another 30 minutes of annual leave to travel back to your home or work. Getting to the appointment would be part of the process of receiving treatment. You may use annual leave in place of sick leave, however, if you desire. But since annual leave is subject to supervisory approval, it may be denied unless you are willing to share the reason with your boss.

Question:
I am a Federal Employee at the Brockton, MA VA Hospital for the past 9 years. I have federal school loans and need assistance paying them. I would like to know if there is a loan forgiveness plan for federal employees?

Answer:

There is a Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, but it has several restrictions attached to it. First, only loans received under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan program are eligible. Loans through another program such as a Perkins Loan can be consolidated into a Direct Loan. However, you must have made 120 consecutive full payments on-time for the rest of your loan to be considered for forgiveness. If you have been making payments, but they were not as part of a Direct Loan, they won’t count as part of the 120 monthly payments. Another program is the Federal Student Loan Repayment Program, which allows federal agencies to repay all or part of an employee’s student loans as a recruitment or retainment incentive. Unless you want to look for work in another agency, you will need to ask your supervisor at the VA about the options available to you. These payments are made on a discretionary basis, and some agencies do not offer them at all.

Question:
Can a person with a disability join the military when they turn 18? I was wondering this because I have MS and I am turning 18 this Sunday I am still in high school but my bus driver who is a military guy thinks it’s a good idea.

Answer:

I admire you for wanting to serve your country, but unfortunately, MS is one of the conditions that precludes you from military service. You would be required to pass an entrance health exam and finding MS in your records would be cause to not allow you to serve. Those who are already in the military at the time of their diagnosis are giving a medical discharge and aren’t allowed to stay in.

Question:
What constitutes being considered a ‘Federal Employee’?  I am retired from the Army Reserves with 20 yrs. and 3 6 months service, with Veteran’s status.  Am I considered a ‘Federal Employee’ because of this service?

Answer:

Technically, you would be considered a retired federal employee because your military service was in the Department of Defense. However, for the purposes of our handbooks, federal employees are considered non-uniformed military personnel who work in the Judicial Branch or Legislative Branch of government, or for one of the agencies in the Executive Branch such as the Department of Commerce, Department of Energy, or Department of Labor. Military and former military personnel find more useful content in the handbooks available at MilitaryHandbooks.com.

Question:
What can be considered when calculating alimony? I say it should be based on base pay, plus locality pay. My ex-wife’s attorney says pay plus all of the benefits the government pays for which shows on your benefits statement but has no cash value and is not part of my taxable income. I am a GS11-7 currently seeking alimony modification because the opposition originally based the alimony on $86,940. At the time I was a step 6 making $66,974 — a $19,966 difference!

Answer:

“According to the Judiciary Guidelines for Alimony, alimony is calculated from “”Disposable earnings,”” that part of an employee’s compensation paid or payable for personal services, whether denominated as wages, salary, commission, bonus or otherwise, including periodic payments under a pension or retirement program, that remains after the deduction of any amounts required by law to be withheld. Benefits which have no cash value are not included as part of “disposable earnings” and should not be included in the alimony calculation.

Question:
Are federal civilian employees authorized break times other than lunch?

Answer:

“Federal law does not require lunch or coffee breaks. However, when employers do offer short breaks (usually lasting about 5 to 20 minutes), federal law considers the breaks as compensable work hours that would be included in the sum of hours worked during the work week and considered in determining if overtime was worked. Unauthorized extensions of authorized work breaks need not be counted as hours worked when the employer has expressly and unambiguously communicated to the employee that the authorized break may only last for a specific length of time, that any extension of the break is contrary to the employer’s rules, and any extension of the break will be punished.
Bona fide meal periods (typically lasting at least 30 minutes), serve a different purpose than coffee or snack breaks and, thus, are not work time and are not compensable.”

Question:
How do I contact OPM to have them fax info on my income to my Wells Fargo bank for a re-finance of my home?

Answer:

OPM does not publish a full list of contacts due to the sheer volume of potential numbers, but their general inquiries phone number is 202-606-1800. I’d call them to see who you need to contact directly.

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