At least 1,200 recently retired sailors have experienced delays in the start of their retired pay and some glitches in Tricare access while the Navy works to transition its personnel systems, Navy officials acknowledge. The transition has also affected some active-duty sailors’ pay, ID cards and Tricare benefits, Navy Times reported in mid-August.
Service personnel officials have had to resubmit retirement packages to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service for about 1,200 sailors whose retirements took effect July 1 and Aug. 1, and those payments were made Sept. 1, said Capt. Dave Hecht, spokesman for Naval Personnel Command,. Those 1,200 sailors are the ones Navy personnel officials proactively identified as they went through their systems, Hecht said. The personnel folks are communicating with retirees who are affected, and “DFAS has indicated they will process any further resubmissions as they come in,” he said.
Those recently retired sailors represent about two-thirds of the 1,800 sailors — active and retired — who have been affected by the pay issues. The hiccups in the transition also caused delays for about 1,000 sailors trying to get ID cards needed to access benefits. Hecht said the current timeline for complete resolution of the Tricare issue is no later than Sept. 15.
There is no estimated timeline for resolution of the pay issues, but issues are “being addressed promptly when identified,” Hecht said.
Of the 1,800 pay issues, 686 have been completely resolved, and the remaining ones “are being actively resolved and adjudicated through manual interface across Human Resource systems,” Hecht said. In addition, ID cards needed for Tricare access are being handled manually. “All pay issues are receiving the highest priority to ensure that every sailor receives everything to which they are entitled,” Hecht said.
The problems stemmed from the Navy consolidating its Navy Enlisted System and Officer Personnel Information System into a streamlined Navy Standard Integrated Personnel System, or NSIPS, in July. Due to “interface errors,” the new personnel system in some cases wasn’t able to communicate with the Defense Joint Military Pay System or the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS), which handle pay and benefits, Hecht told Navy Times in August..
One recently retired sailor told Navy Times he got his first retired paycheck Sept. 11, nearly six weeks after it was supposed to start on Aug. 1. While he said he was fine financially before the retired pay kicked in, he is concerned about others.
“I remain concerned about their process,” he said. “Why not put effort into communicating problems rather than staying quiet?. . . I could really see this having an effect on people.. … This could be crippling for someone with dependents and limited emergency savings.”
Hecht emphasized that personnel officials are fully aware of the urgency.
“One sailor not getting paid on time is one too many, but it’s important to note this technical problem impacted less than 1 percent of sailors serving in the Navy,” Hecht said. “We’ve identified the sailors in this small, isolated group and are working directly with them. Ensuring our people are paid accurately and on time is our priority, and when we recognized there was a problem, we acted swiftly.”
The problems all related to changes in pay or dependency status submitted through the Navy Enlisted System and Officer Personnel Information System. They only affected sailors who were undergoing such changes during the transition period. Other retirees and currently serving sailors were not affected by the transition.
Both those legacy personnel systems are in a “read only” status until Sept. 30, as originally planned, Hecht said. The transition timeline allowed the new system to take on all the functions of the Navy’s personnel system before the legacy systems were shut down.
“Work arounds are in place to mitigate impacts to our sailors and their families while the final technical solutions are developed,” Hecht said.
Data errors caused DEERS to incorrectly report the status for Tricare eligibility and benefits for some sailors. Updates are being made as underlying data issues are identified, he said.
Meanwhile, sailors who are affected by the data errors in DEERS should seek emergency care if they are experiencing a medical emergency; and those who need treatment for a chronic or life-threatening illness should contact the MyNavy Career Center and request urgent assistance due to needed medical treatment.
Those who are having pay issues should contact the MyNavy Career Center Contact Center immediately. Operators are available 24/7 to help with anyone’s needs. Sailors can call, chat or send an email. Active-duty and Navy Reserve sailors, retirees and veterans can speak to an agent by calling 833-330-6622.
Sailors will receive any back pay owed, as well as retroactive Tricare coverage.
Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.