I’m sure you’ve by now seen the fury directed at congress. The new budget deal is attempting to save money by reducing retirement benefits by a measly 1%. So why all the fuss?
For several reasons actually:
- The money they’ll save by doing this will barely make a dent in the interest owed by the government on its loans.
- The military retirees worked long and hard doing a thankless job, at low pay, and this was their reward.
- When you join the military you go in knowing if you slog it out for twenty years (and during that time you’ll be away from your family, shot at, live in conditions at times that even the US poor would shun, miss major events like birthdays, funerals, weddings, the birth of your own child…) you’ll be ‘taken care of’.
- Military has few benefits; commissary, Px, health care and retirement.
- While the military retirees are being forced to take this financial hit congress will not be closing the loop holes allowing people who entered this country illegally from getting tax incentives (child credit for example).
You know the arguments on both sides by now. You’ve heard it all at this point and are probably tuning it out; consciously or otherwise. But lets make it personal for you; it is for me.
If you follow this blog you know my husband is active duty. What you don’t know is that he’s got barely over half a decade left in. He dropped his indefinite just a few years ago; with the assumption he’d be getting a certain amount for retirement based on contributing factors. In my husband’s case he planned to enter the civilian sector once he retired; he’s been working since he joined the military at 18 and I’d probably kill him if he was under foot, assuming he didn’t die of boredom.
This measly 1%, that they couldn’t cut elsewhere, will effect us big time when he retires in 5 plus years.
But here’s a few that it effects now.
My father is 62. My father is disabled. My father cannot work. My father retired at an E6. Retirement pay is less than your active duty pay. My father doesn’t get a lot of money and has to manage what he does have. Now he has the bitter taste of betrayal in his mouth and less money in his wallet. For every 30,000$ the government will be taking back 300$. Money that could have put gas in his ten year old car or food in his stomach.
My stepdad is 65. He is 60% disabled but can work in some situations. He put in 28 years before getting out. He retired and while not making a lot of money lived comfortably. My mom has worked since she was 15. It’s all she knows. My mom was recently disabled, with pins in her knees, and unable to work; drastically slashing their income. She was injured on the job and then fired embroiling them in a 2 year long lawsuit. She is now unable to work at all. My stepdad must now work just to pay off loans they could previously afford. Now he has even less to pay off his loans while interest rates won’t be going away.
But it’s 1% you say? Yes, 1% that takes away tens of thousands over the course of years.
It’s the equivalent of your boss coming to you and saying, “It turns out I overspent the last few years. So instead of your yearly bonus, I’m going to dock your pay for the next few years. But don’t worry! It’s only 1%… of every paycheck.”
Would you not feel jaded? Would your belly not burn with bitterness and ire? You signed your contract knowing that if you did your part your boss would do his. Only he didn’t. Only he’s not really looking for ways to cut back his spending. Docking your pay and everyone else’s isn’t even going to cover the interest he’s so far in debt.
The problem is so far reaching and well known about military spending problems there are jokes about it. It’s commonly referred to as the 30,000$ hammer.
“Of course they have to dock our retirement! You can’t expect them to not buy that 30,000$ hammer!”
For most of you this isn’t a concern. That 1% doesn’t effect you. For me it’s personal. For my friends and family it’s personal.
- Two Uncles
- Grandfather (deceased)
- My father’s cousins
- My Great Uncle (a 92 year old who lost an eye in WWII)