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Old 12-17-2013, 06:12 PM
 
Location: Fayetteville, NC
437 posts, read 473,477 times
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This may seem like a silly question, But I've recently been debating others, both military retirees as well as non-military who feel that a) the defined benefit plan that military members get after 20 years is unfair and a burden on society and b) we should be paying FAR more for our Tricare benefits.

I enlisted in 1991 and decided at some point along the way to make it a career. I didn't intend to at the start of my initial enlistment but military life kind of grew on me (like a fungus?) At any rate, at about year 10 came the make-or-break decision to go indef. Of course anyone who puts in a full 20, especially in line units, is essentially giving the people of the United States the best years of their life with regards to health.

I've heard all the arguments, that the exchange and commissary benefits give us an unfair advantage. I've heard that the military retirement was never intended to be the sole means of income for a military retiree. And recently I've begun to hear from some people that it should be acceptable to renegotiate the terms of our retirement after the fact and reduce our overly generous retirement benefits, and scale them down to something more along the lines of what our civilian counterparts get.

When presented with the facts that military members don't receive overtime, or shift differential pay, can't fluff their retirement in the final years by working massive amounts of overtime and don't have their food and housing allowances included in the computation of their retirement, all seems to go silent and I'm redirected to the old line of "You should have known that nothing is guaranteed, yada yada yada".

Maybe I'm being hard headed and not seeing things clearly. Do we have an unfair advantage over the rest of the Americans who actually get a pension? I'm willing to accept that a defined contribution plan may be the best way going forward. Of course this would require the DOD to overhaul the compensation system as a whole, but for those of us who have already done our part and retired, are we being too demanding of our country? I ask that seriously because as I stated earlier, there are quite a few people I've spoken with, including a retired Officer, who seem to think that we are grossly overcompensated in retirement. Thoughts?
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Old 12-17-2013, 07:34 PM
 
1,281 posts, read 1,744,244 times
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It's extremely generous. A retired Officer's pension is worth much more than a million dollars. This isn't even including their regular compensation is in the upper tier of the general public.

Of course, the service member earns it. Constant moves, deploying, etc...

The gripe comes how well the military personnel and retirees have been shielded from the worst economy since the great depression. You can't really expect much sympathy from the public when much of the population saw their 401K's and house values plummet. Not too mention the high unemployment rate. Compared to the rest of the public, the military retirees and current active members are doing extremely well.
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Old 12-17-2013, 07:35 PM
 
Location: Upstate
4,958 posts, read 5,355,408 times
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US Government employees who never serve in harms way or the rigorous life that military members face, enjoy far better retirement benefits than the military. The older plan paid full pension for life or to the survivor minus SS, the new plan pays a slightly smaller benefit, but adds SS plus a five percent pay into a tax deferred retirement account. As for their health care, the government pays about three fourths of the cost of the plan. You have to remember this also applies to Congress.

The average federal pension pays $32,824 annually. The average state and local government pension pays $24,373, Census data show. The average military pension is $22,492.
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Old 12-17-2013, 07:42 PM
 
51 posts, read 63,294 times
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My first sergeant, when he retired, was getting paid generously. Retirement + VA added up. However, I believe he deserves it, 26 years and deploying like 6-7 times, Back when deployments were 15 months long. Honestly I think most ( not all ) but most soldiers who put in 20 years deserve their retirement and benefits because believe me they have to go through SO MUCH ****. and it's not deploying, or any of that which makes the job tough, it's putting up with all the lower enlisted stupid soldiers. They literally have to baby sit down the chain of command.
Not only that, but with all the training, deployments, etc He had both his knees replaced, and all sorts of other health problems.
you have to remember that the military Sucks the life out of you literally, they get their monies worth out of you one way or another.
If I was of high rank, I damn well expect a decent retirement for what the job is.

That is my only example...but it applies to many soldiers.
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Old 12-17-2013, 07:47 PM
 
1,281 posts, read 1,744,244 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by USNRET04 View Post
US Government employees who never serve in harms way or the rigorous life that military members face, enjoy far better retirement benefits than the military. The older plan paid full pension for life or to the survivor minus SS, the new plan pays a slightly smaller benefit, but adds SS plus a five percent pay into a tax deferred retirement account. As for their health care, the government pays about three fourths of the cost of the plan. You have to remember this also applies to Congress.
You're leaving out the fact that fed employees have to fund their retirement. Anyone hired past 2013 owes 3.1%. 2014 hires owe 4.4%. No small chunk of change when you get to the hire ranks.

They also don't collect the benefit until much later in life.

Saying that the pension a fed employee receives is better than a military retirement is laughable and simply untrue.


Quote:
The average federal pension pays $32,824 annually. The average state and local government pension pays $24,373, Census data show. The average military pension is $22,492.
You're forgetting how much earlier a service member gets his pension.
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Old 12-17-2013, 07:49 PM
 
Location: Upstate
4,958 posts, read 5,355,408 times
Reputation: 3056
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pyramidsurf View Post
It's extremely generous. A retired Officer's pension is worth much more than a million dollars. This isn't even including their regular compensation is in the upper tier of the general public.
You are talking Flag officers with nearly 40 years of service. That is a small amount compared to the rest of the military. Senior Government workers, around 1-2 percent of the retirees, also make that kind of pension.

The average Congressman retires with an average of $78k a year for life, while some retire in the six figures a year for life after twenty years of service. After just five years of service, a Congressman can expect $14k a year at age 62 plus SS and his private sector pension.

Will your congressman retire richer than you? - Jul. 29, 2013
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Old 12-17-2013, 07:59 PM
 
1,281 posts, read 1,744,244 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by USNRET04 View Post
You are talking Flag officers with nearly 40 years of service. That is a small amount compared to the rest of the military. Senior Government workers, around 1-2 percent of the retirees, also make that kind of pension.
No, I'm not.

An O-5 at twenty years makes $8422 (the 2014 proposed number). $8422/2 equals 4211 per month for life. Not accounting for COLA raises, that works out to 2,021,280 in today's dollars over 40 years. O-4's make $7356 per month. This doesn't include free college, disability that's tax free and medical care.

A retired O-5 makes 50K a year in pension payments at age 42. No other retirement plan else even comes close to comparing to that.
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Old 12-17-2013, 08:04 PM
 
Location: Fayetteville, NC
437 posts, read 473,477 times
Reputation: 641
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pyramidsurf View Post
You're leaving out the fact that fed employees have to fund their retirement. Anyone hired past 2013 owes 3.1%. 2014 hires owe 4.4%. No small chunk of change when you get to the hire ranks.

They also don't collect the benefit until much later in life.

Saying that the pension a fed employee receives is better than a military retirement is laughable and simply untrue.

You're forgetting how much earlier a service member gets his pension.
You have good points, and I'm in agreement that there is certainly room for future changes. I didn't work around a large number of DA civilians until my final assignment, and while their retirement benefits weren't as generous on the face of it, they were able to make a killing in present value dollars in overtime that our Soldiers simply didn't have access to. Additionally, as this was in Germany, all of them received the maximum housing allowances and were able to make a profit living off post, unlike the Soldiers of similar 'rank'. Next, whenever they had to come in on their day off for training or weapons qualifications, they always got paid for it. So while the service member potentially has access to their pensions earlier, I'm wondering if in the long run if it doesn't at least come close to averaging out.
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Old 12-17-2013, 08:09 PM
 
1,281 posts, read 1,744,244 times
Reputation: 1235
Quote:
Originally Posted by MPRetired View Post
You have good points, and I'm in agreement that there is certainly room for future changes. I didn't work around a large number of DA civilians until my final assignment, and while their retirement benefits weren't as generous on the face of it, they were able to make a killing in present value dollars in overtime that our Soldiers simply didn't have access to. Additionally, as this was in Germany, all of them received the maximum housing allowances and were able to make a profit living off post, unlike the Soldiers of similar 'rank'. Next, whenever they had to come in on their day off for training or weapons qualifications, they always got paid for it. So while the service member potentially has access to their pensions earlier, I'm wondering if in the long run if it doesn't at least come close to averaging out.
But, a fed's paycheck is usually much smaller (at least for the beginning of their career). They make money once they get to the GS-13 ranks and above. No PCS, so they can stretch on a house and build lots of equity. None of the AD BS that people have to put up with.

It's all a trade off. I know some DON civs who make a killing. They made GS-14/15 by 35 and sit there until the day they retire or go to SES.
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Old 12-17-2013, 08:13 PM
 
Location: Fayetteville, NC
437 posts, read 473,477 times
Reputation: 641
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pyramidsurf View Post
Of course, the service member earns it. Constant moves, deploying, etc...

The gripe comes how well the military personnel and retirees have been shielded from the worst economy since the great depression. You can't really expect much sympathy from the public when much of the population saw their 401K's and house values plummet. Not too mention the high unemployment rate. Compared to the rest of the public, the military retirees and current active members are doing extremely well.
Speaking from personnel experience trying to sell my house in 2009 before a PCS move to Germany, the house value and 'saleability' disadvantage also affected many military members. I was stuck with a vacant house for 18 months with vandals decimating my heat pump for the copper before I reluctantly placed it on the rental market. Most 401K's have regained most, if not all of their value since the worst of the recession, although unfortunately unemployment is still a significant issue due to much larger economic issues that we'll eventually have to face.
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