AFSA HQ Newsletter – October 25th

This newsletter is produced and released on a weekly basis by AFSA HQ. To read the full newsletter, as well as archived entries, visit the AFSA On Call Newsletter section of www.hqafsa.org.

AFSA’s WEEK IN REVIEW 

2012 COLA

Last week the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for 2012. The CPI increased 1.7 percent in 2012. As a result, Social Security recipients, military and federal retirees will be authorized a 1.7 Cost-of-Living Allowance (COLA) adjustment increase effective December 1, 2012. This increase will be reflected in their January 1, 2013, checks.” 

VA Pension Data

A new VA Pension fact sheet for Veterans, survivors, and family members. Click here to view. 

The Looming Threat of Sequestration

In comments to reporters at WinthropUniversity, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) rightly noted that “The automatic cuts put in place during the nation’s debt ceiling negotiations last year will “destroy the finest military in the world”. He is not alone. A growing number of lawmakers from both sides of the isle agree with Graham and are becoming more and more disturbed at Congress’ inability to resolve the matter. 

The issue is expected to take center stage when lawmakers return in November because the fix here is the key to other important decisions awaiting Congress. Issues like the annual Defense Authorization bill, the “Doc Fix” and tax-related issues could all be affected by any deal reached involving the national budget deficit and/or sequestration.   Likewise, we hear commissary funding could be cut $130 million or 9.4 percent if Congress fails to reach a debt-reduction deal by January 2, 2013.

 TRICARE Impacted by Sequestration

Under the law governing sequestration, the president can exempt military personnel accounts or reduce them by a lower percentage. This past summer, President Obama told Congress that he would exempt military personnel accounts from sequestration; meaning the jobs, pay, allowances and retirement benefits for those in uniform are protected from sequestration IF the cuts take effect January 2, 2013. But TRICARE, the military’s health care program, IS NOT IMMUNE to spending reductions. TRICARE, which is part of the Defense Health Program, as this falls under the Defense Department’s operations and maintenance budget, and IS SUBJECT to sequestration.

The bottom line; the entire military community could be affected by sequestration. Do you know where your elected officials stand on this issue? If the answer is “NO,” please use the AFSA CapWiz system and ask them. We even have a sample letter you can use which you will find here. 

AFSA on the Hill

Passage of the FY 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and averting the negative impacts of sequestration are the subject of our conversations with congressional offices this week. Most staff members we spoke with sincerely believe an agreement will be reached on the NDAA prior to the end of the year. But they are less confident about a deal to block deep defense cuts and funding for other federal programs triggered by last year’s Budget Control Act. Currently, just 72 days remain until the sequester kicks in and it’s possible that the deadline could arrive with no action by Congress. None in DC expected a deal prior to the election and while behind the scenes talks are ongoing, they appear to be going nowhere. Increasing numbers of experts believe whatever “fix” lawmakers eventually come up with will be applied retroactively—meaning an agreement won’t be reached until late December or sometime early next year. Additionally, few believe Congress will be able to stave off the effects of sequestration entirely because the deficit is too high and the cost to counteract the plan is too great. Compounding matters even further is the fact that many other big ticket items need to be addressed like expiring tax cuts and the already mentioned “Doc Fix.” Rest assured that while Congress has a full plate and whatever they can’t chew through will have consequences, AFSA is watching closely to ensure every morsel is addressed. 

Living in a Battleground State?

While all votes hold equal value, AFSA members voting in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Caroline, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin should be aware they are in “battleground states.” As you know from the numerous TV ads in your state and what the rest of America is hearing, you have been identified as the “Upcoming Presidential election deciding states.” AFSA challenges you and all members to be educated on your candidate’s position on the hot issues such as the federal budget, military end strength, social policies and future Supreme Court judge appointments as this election will have “lasting impacts” on you and your family members. Regardless of your political party or choices for President or Congressional members, cast your vote and ensure your voice is heard! 

Insurance: Property & Casualty

Protect what’s important to you with affordable insurance from USAA. USAA offers top-rated coverage at low rates. Combine that with award-winning service — in fact, USAA was ranked one of Business Week’s top two “Customer Service Champs” the last four years in a row. To make it easy for you, you can do it all online — quote, buy, print ID cards, and much more. Call USAA at (800) 531-8722 or go online here


Click HERE to receive daily updates            Click HERE to access AFSA CAPWIZ

This newsletter is produced and released on a weekly basis by AFSA HQ. To read the full newsletter, as well as archived entries, visit the AFSA On Call Newsletter section of www.hqafsa.org.

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