Veterans benefits

MARQUETTE – U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Crystal Falls, helped introduce legislation last week that would repeal a section of the recently passed bipartisan Ryan-Murray budget deal affecting military retirees.

Benishek introduced his bill with U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Florida.

“I recognize it was not the perfect solution, but I still believe the bipartisan budget deal ultimately takes steps to help Michigan families, create economic certainty for small businesses and allows us to avoid another government shutdown,” Benishek said in a news release. “However, we do need to make practical changes to the bill to ensure our veterans are getting the benefits they have earned, and that’s why I’m partnering with Congressman Miller on legislation to do just that.”

Benishek serves on the House Committee on Veterans Affairs and is the committee’s chairman of the Subcommittee on Health.

A provision of the budget deal, which is slated to begin in December 2015, reduces the annual cost of living adjustment for military retirees by 1 percent each year until they reach age 62. After that, the adjustment would return to the previous level.

According to a Benishek press release, the policy change will not reduce the size of any military retiree’s pension payment, but it will slow the growth of the payment until the retiree turns 62.

The legislation Benishek and Miller introduced would repeal that section of the budget agreement. Benishek and Miller have also introduced a separate piece of legislation to specifically exempt those who were medically retired, those who receive combat related specialty compensation and those who receive concurrent receipt pay.

“Helping and working to ensure a better quality of life for all our veterans has always been one of my top priorities, and I believe this effort will take the necessary steps to protect our veterans,” Benishek said.

John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. His email address is