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            Credit: Architect of the Capitol  LEGISLATIVE and BENEFIT

                                       UPDATES Summer Mariner 2021

                                       By Michael P. Hughes, OSC, USNR (ret.)

                                       The following are a few key legislative proposals recently under consideration. NERA is
                                       following many more, but these are key ones that NERA supports and is pushing for in
                                       coordination with our partner organizations of The Military Coalition.

                                       H.R. 3626/S. 1859          members through  TRICARE. It is estimated there are
                                       National Guard             over 130,000 Selective Reserve service members without
                                       and Reserve                private health insurance. This would help improve readi-
                                                                  ness, recruitment and retention, and parity with benefits
              Incentive Pay Parity Act                            of active duty forces.
              If enacted, this bill would require the Secretary of each
              military service to pay a member of a Reserve component   The bill also would provide parity for “gray area” retir-
              a special bonus or incentive pay in the same amount as a   ees with TRICARE benefits the same as all other mili-
              member in the regular component. The particulars of the   tary retirees and allow Reserve service members who
              bill were not yet printed as of this writing, but we will fol-  are Federal employees with Federal Employees Health
              low up with any information when it becomes available.  Benefits Program (FEHB) eligibility to be  TRICARE
                                                                  Reserve Select eligible.
              H.R. 1854 Reserve Employers
              Comprehensive Relief and Uniform                    H.R. 3402/S. 976 Caring for Survivors Act
              Incentives on Taxes Act                             Currently monthly benefits for surviving spouses and fam-
              Proposes to allow employers with less than 500 employees   ily members of those who have died in service to our nation
              to claim a new payroll tax credit of 40% of the wages paid   are paid Dependency and Indemnity Compensation
              to a member of the National Guard or a Reserve compo-  (DIC) at a rate of 43% of retiree benefits. This bill would
              nent of the Armed Forces.                           raise that to 55%, the same as other Federal employees.

              H.R. 2195 Employment Rights of                      The current law also restricts survivor benefits if the vet-
              Service Members Act                                 eran was totally disabled less than 10 years before death.
              Clarifies arbitration is unenforceable unless all parties vol-  This bill would reduce that to less than 5 years.
              untarily consent to it. Consent is not considered voluntary
              when a person is required to agree to arbitrate an action,   Veterans Affairs (VA) Educational
              complaint or claim alleging a violation as a condition of   Benefits Eligibility
              future or continued employment, advancement in employ-  NERA has received several inquiries from members who have
              ment, or receipt of any right or benefit of employment.  been denied when applying for VA educational benefits. We
                                                                  are researching this and hope to address it in our next issue of
              H.R. 3512 Healthcare for Our Troops Act             The Mariner. It's a complicated process due to varying eligi-
              This bill would provide medical and dental care to drill-  bility requirements enacted over time that depend on when,
              ing Selective Reserve service members at no costs to the   where and how long the service member served.

                   As always NERA continues to follow and represent our members with Congress, Department
                        of Defense and Veterans Affairs to protect and promote the benefits and compensa-
                      tion earned by our members. If you have specific questions or concerns, please contact
                        me by email at [email protected] or by calling me on my cell phone at 1-443-812-9591.

       10 The Mariner  •  2020 SUMER Edition  •  Volume 64  •  Issue 2
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