Despite a veto threat from the Bush administration, Congress moved this summer to restore full retired pay to some, if not all, career military retirees who draw tax-free veterans' disability compensation for service-related injuries or illness.
Entering August, however, three key questions remained unanswered:
- Would all disabled 20-year retirees, or only those with the most severe ratings of 60% or higher, see an end to the dollar-for-dollar offset of military retirement required for retirees who draw tax-free veterans' compensation?
- Would their retired pay be restored all at once and as early as 1 October, or be phased in over five years, starting on 1 October 2002, or 1 January 2003?
- Would President George W. Bush veto the 2003 defense authorization bill, as aides have warned, if it includes any relaxation of the 110-year-old ban on "concurrent receipt" of both full military retirement and veterans disability pay?
A House-Senate conference committee on the defense bill plans to decide the first two issues by September while wary veterans' groups are preparing strategies for a veto fight they hope will not come.