Grand Strand Chapter
The MOAA Grand Strand Chapter Legislative Liaison is James H. Offutt, CDR, USN (retired). For questions or further information, he may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or, contact the South Carolina Council of MOAA Chapters Vice-President for Legislative Affairs, Thomas Robillard, Col, USAF (retired), at: email@example.com
Or, go to the MOAA "Take Action" Legislative Affairs website at: http://moaasc.org/Legislation
Our Legislative Affairs officer, Jim Offutt, has provided this "take action" link ( MOAA Legislation ), from the National MOAA web site, which facilitates contact with your elected representatives regarding important pending legislation. Click on the preceding link to view the MOAA Legislative website page, which includes pending Federal legislation which could have a negative impact on our service members and veterans and their families. Current 2020 Legislative mission areas led by national MOAA can be found at this link: https://www.moaa.org/content/publications-and-media/news-articles/2019-news-articles/advocacy/moaas-2020-legislative-mission/
Here is the latest from Washington :
The Survivor Benefit Plan/Dependency & Indemnity Compensation (SBP/DIC) Offset WIDOWS TAX is repealed by the FY20 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)!!! 3-Year phased rollout begins in 2021, with full elimination start on Jan 1, 2023. Worth up to $11,000/year to over 65,000 widows.
Active duty pay is taxable. Reserve & National Guard drill pay is not taxable.
South Carolina is phasing in an increase in the amount of retired pay you can deduct from your total taxable income. The approved rates are shown below. Plus, MOAA and other groups continue to work to eliminate ALL veteran pension pay from state income taxation in 2021.
SC Retired Military Pay Exemption
Retirees Under 65
Retirees 65 and Older
$27,000 ($42,000 joint)
$30,000 ($45,000 joint
The SC Legislature is currently considering extending the partial exemption of military pensions to become a full exemption. However, legislation to increase the amount of exemption is currently held up in the State Senate Finance Committee. Therefore, SC Council of MOAA Chapters has asked all SC MOAA Chapters to contact the State Senators in their regions that sit on the Senate Finance Committee. This includes 4 Senators in the Grand Strand Chapter district, including Senator Leatherman, the Chairman of the Finance Committee. Draft letters to send to the four Grand Strand Senators are found below. Make sure to change the signature on the bottom of the letter to your own name before sending.
South Carolina also recently (FY20) approved the addition of three more State Nursing Homes to be located in Florence, Cherokee and Sumter. Each new home will include 104 beds. These are in addition to the existing three nursing homes located in Anderson, Walterboro and Columbia.
In addition, the state created a new cabinet position under Governor McMaster for Veterans Affairs. The first South Carolina Secretary of Veterans Affairs is previous State Representative Bobby Cox, a graduate of the Citadel and currently a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve having served four tours of duty in Iraq as an Army Ranger, recipient of the Bronze Star and numerous other military medals. Secretary Cox's duties include:
- Initiate and process veterans' claims for benefits
- Manage the state's free-tuition program for children of veterans
- Manage the SC State Veterans' Cemetery in Anderson
- Assist in the management of the SC veterans' nursing homes
- Update and maintain the SC "War Roster"
- Coordinate the SC Veterans Advocacy Council
- Respond to inquiries regarding veterans' benefits
- Administer the SC Military Family Relief Fund
MOAA Legislative Goals - 2018
Top 10 Legislative Goals for 2018
MOAA's advocacy team is gearing up to protect your health care and retirement benefits, military pay, force levels, wounded warriors, and caregivers.
After an unpredictable 2017, the coming year likely will hold even more surprises on Capitol Hill. Midterm elections are coming in November, and the turnover in Congress could be significant. With partisanship on the rise, the political transition likely will pose interesting challenges.
Our uniformed service members and their families have now endured 16 years of war. Overshadowing the challenges is the constant competition for fewer dollars, as budget caps dominate discussions at every level.
These growing budget pressures prompt efforts to erode service-earned benefits through reduced pay raises, significant changes to housing allowances, and increased health care fees. While MOAA has successfully deflected some of those challenges, we must remain vigilant. Of paramount concern is the proven impact these reductions have on retention and readiness. We're resolved to ensure any reduction to career incentives - essential to the all-volunteer force - is approached with great care.
Action item: Ensure any TRICARE reform sustains access to top-quality care and avoids disproportional TRICARE fee increases.
Who is affected? All military beneficiaries, including active duty troops and retirees and their family members and others entitled to DoD's health care
The issue: Reforms to the Military Health System must sustain an operationally ready force with a ready medical force. MOAA strongly agrees the military's health care system needs to evolve beyond what it is today into a modern, high-performing, integrated system. However, this interdependent relationship between health care and the readiness-laden infrastructure must not lose sight of either imperative. The health care benefit is a commitment our nation makes to servicemembers and their families, military retirees, and survivors for their years of service. Any reform of TRICARE must take into account the decades of service that constitute a prepaid, in-kind premium worthy of a top-tier health benefit. Over 80 percent of those in Congress have not served in uniform and likely do not understand the toll service has on individuals and military families.
The remedy: Personal stories from constituents have a lot of impact on Capitol Hill. MOAA's members, councils, and chapters are a great source of grassroots support. Remind congressional legislators that any TRICARE reform not only must serve to strengthen the interdependent relationships between health care and readiness but also take into account that veterans prepaid for their health benefits through decades of service and sacrifice.
Action item: Sustain military pay comparability with the private sector.
Who is affected? All active duty currently serving uniformed personnel and their families
The issue: Budget pressures might tempt Congress to reduce military pay raises, widening the gap between military pay and civilian-sector pay and hurting recruiting and retention.
The remedy: We must work to ensure annual military pay raises approved by Congress remain tied to the Employment Cost Index.
Action item: Block erosion of compensation and non-pay and quality-of-life benefits.
Who is affected? All currently serving uniformed personnel and their family members
The issue: Future proposals likely will reduce the value of compensation, to include non-pay and quality-of-life benefits such as the Basic Allowance for Housing, Special Incentive Pays, and commissary, exchange, and morale, welfare, and recreation benefits, harming recruiting and retention.
The remedy: MOAA will continue to oppose proposals to reduce the value of compensation or undermine long-term retention.
Action item: Protect military retirement and COLAs.
Who is affected? All new entrants into military service after Jan. 1, as well as those with less than 12 years of active military service who choose to opt in to the new blended retirement system (BRS)
The issue: Budget constraints might lead to further reductions in the value of the military retirement benefit earned after 20 years of service.
The remedy: Extend the period of government matching funds beyond 26 years to actual retirement. Oppose any efforts to reduce or eliminate the mandatory 12-years-of-service bonus in the BRS. Continue to seek comprehensive implementation of legislation authorizing concurrent receipt of uniformed service retired pay and VA disability compensation, to include a heightened focus on Chapter 61 retirees (those medically retired with less than 20 years of service).
Action item: Sustain wounded warrior programs and expand caregiver support.
Who is affected? More than 52,000 service members who were wounded in action, 1,000 battle-injured with major limb amputations, 327,000 traumatic brain injuries, and hundreds of thousands of individuals with service-connected conditions acquired since Sept. 11, 2001
The issue: While DoD, the VA, and the military services continue to maintain programs to care and support our most vulnerable service members, MOAA has seen reductions in resources and funding for these programs.
The remedy: MOAA is committed to moving DoD and the VA to establish a more unified and integrated system of care and benefits that will provide comprehensive, wrap-around services to facilitate the health and well-being of the nation's wounded, ill, and injured. The Military and Veteran Caregiver Services Act of 2017, sponsored by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. James Langevin (D-R.I.), is one step in that direction.
Action item: End financial penalties to disabled service members.
Who is affected? Veterans with service-connected injuries
The issue: Veterans forced into disability retirements before completing a full career (also known as Chapter 61 retirees) are prohibited from receiving military retired pay concurrently with VA disability compensation.
The remedy: Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.) have introduced legislation - S. 66 and H.R. 333, respectively - to expand concurrent receipt for disabled retirees.
Action item: End financial penalties to survivors.
Who is affected? Military survivors
The issue: Military survivors whose sponsors died of service-connected causes suffer from the widows tax, a dollar-for-dollar offset of DoD's Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) from the VA's Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC).
The remedy: Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) introduced legislation - S. 339 and H.R. 846, respectively - to eliminate the SBP-DIC widows tax.
Action item: Ensure the Guard and Reserve system adequately supports requirements for an operational reserve.
Who is affected? Members of the reserve components and their families
The issue: Members of the Guard and Reserve community have proven their mettle many times over during the past 16 years of armed conflict. Meanwhile, the paradigm for reserve component usage has changed from a strategic reserve to a combat-ready warfighting element incorporated into current and future war planning. As the demands on Guard and Reserve troops have evolved, so has the need for benefits comparable to their active duty counterparts.
The remedy: MOAA will continue to work with Congress to generate and support legislation strengthening legal protections for Guard and Reserve members in their civilian employment and in consumer contracts.
The issue: Recruiting and retention of an all-volunteer force require alignment of spouse and family support programs.
Who is affected? Every service member who has or will have a family
The issue: The decision to remain in service often is made around the kitchen table and considers the evolving needs of the entire family, including the employment, educational, and health care needs of non-serving family members; access to child care; and the frequency of relocations.
The remedy: Decrease the military spouse unemployment rate, which remains four to six times higher than the national rate. Increase the synergy between family support and health care systems, along with initiatives to address schools lacking appropriate resources to keep mobile military children on track.
Action item: Ensure timely access to VA health care and preserve veterans' earned benefits.
Who is affected? There are 21 million veterans in the U.S., with 6.7 million receiving care from the Veterans Health Administration.
The issue: The demand for VA health care and benefits continues to grow, even as the agency has received insufficient funding from Congress and faced frequent proposals for budget cuts.
The remedy: MOAA continues to press for VA health care and benefit system transformation, including investments in technology, financial systems, and infrastructure.