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Congress moves to restore full COLA for medical retirees

Jan. 7, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Harry Reid
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Tuesday that a move to restore full cost-of-living adjustments for working-age retirees likely would be included in the omnibus spending bill being negotiated by Senate appropriators. (J. Scott Applewhite / AP)
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A repeal of the reductions to future military retirement increases may come as soon as this week for service members forcibly retired from the military for medical reasons.

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Tuesday that a move to restore full cost-of-living adjustments, or COLAs, for working-age retirees likely would be included in the omnibus spending bill being negotiated by appropriators Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., and Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky.

“I would bet that that’s addressed in this deal,” Reid said Tuesday while debating legislation to extend benefits for the long-term unemployed.

The comment appears to confirm what congressional sources said would be a swift resolution to the controversy over changes in retirement pay for disabled troops.

But it is not a sweeping repudiation of the pending reduction to COLAs for retirees under age 62 that is being sought by advocacy groups as well as affected active-duty personnel and retirees.

Before the ink had dried on the Bipartisan Budget Act last month, co-architect Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., indicated in an opinion piece in USA Today that the portion of the law pertaining to medically retired service members as well as those receiving survivors’ benefits likely would be repealed.

Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., also said she would welcome a repeal of all the cuts if lawmakers could find a way to replace the estimated $6 billion that the rollback in COLAs would save.

Ryan and Murray said offsets will not be needed to fund the repeal of COLA reductions for medically retired personnel, estimated to cost $6 million.

Neither Ryan nor Murray would comment Tuesday on the ongoing omnibus spending bill negotiations nor confirm whether COLA repeal was under consideration as part of the legislation.

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