Ryan defends military benefits cuts

Greg Nash

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Sunday defended cuts to military retiree benefits, noting Congress would change a provision for individuals who were “medically retired” or received “survivor’s benefits.”

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In a USA Today op-ed published on Sunday, the Republican budget guru, who spent weeks crafting a two-year bipartisan budget deal with Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.), noted the budget chiefs “have agreed to amend the law … well before the reform takes effect in December 2015.”

“Many raised concerns that these reforms would affect the retired pay of service members who are medically retired and those receiving survivor’s benefits. So Senator Murray and I have agreed to amend the law to exclude them well before the reform takes effect in December 2015,” the House Budget Committee chairman wrote.

He explained the rationale behind the joint decision to scale back benefits for military retirees under the age of 62, or “reduction in cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for working-age military retirees,” that has become a source of “controversy,” in recent days.

“If [younger retirees] retire before age 62, the annual increase in their retired pay will be 1% less than the inflation rate. In other words, their benefits will grow every year — just at a slower rate,” Ryan wrote.

The cut is anticipated to save $6 billion over a 10-year period.

Ryan noted military compensation has been simmering for some time. An outside panel is set to release findings in May to the Armed Services panels on how to tackle the more than $400 billion annual cost.