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Amy Klobuchar

11/12/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 11/12/2019 10:47

Klobuchar Leads Colleagues Urging Air Force to Ensure Retired Servicemembers Receive Benefits They Have Earned

The letter follows years of work with Senior Master Sergeant Brian Magnuson, an Air Force veteran from Minnesota whose military pension was miscalculated but was able to resolve the problem with the help of Klobuchar's office

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) led a group of her colleagues including Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Bob Casey (D-PA), John Cornyn (R-TX), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) in sending a letter to the United States Department of the Air Force and the Air Force Reserve Personnel Command (ARPC) expressing concern regarding delays in determining veterans' military pensions and asking for immediate action to ensure that our retired servicemembers receive the benefits they have earned.

In Minnesota, Senior Master Sergeant (SMSgt) Brian Magnuson, an Air Force veteran who served our nation for over 33 years, worked closely with Klobuchar's office for over three years to resolve an error that prevented proper calculation and payment of his military pension. After entering retirement SMSgt Magnuson chose to reenlist in the Air Force reserves, but his status as both a retired veteran and a reservist presented challenges in calculating his military pension. While the Air Force eventually corrected past errors in computation and paid SMSgt Magnuson the tens of thousands of dollars he was owed, the miscalculation of benefits should never have happened. In a letter to Barbara M. Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, and Colonel Kelli Smiley, Commander of the Air Force Reserve Personnel Command, Klobuchar and her colleagues urge the Air Force and ARPC to review the processes for administering retirement benefits for our servicemembers.

'According to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, a major information technology system malfunction in 2018 at the Department of the Air Force and Air Force Reserve Personnel Command (ARPC), created a backlog in processing of retirement paperwork,' Klobuchar and her colleagues wrote. 'It is our understanding that the delays in processing the backlog of servicemembers' military pensions was exacerbated by an outdated IT system and inadequate staffing levels. While we understand that you have taken steps to eliminate the backlog, we are concerned that ARPC has yet not reached its goal of processing pending retirements 60 days in advance of a servicemember's retirement.'

The full text of the letter can be found HERE and below:

Dear Secretary Barrett and Commander Smiley:

We write to express our concern regarding delays in determining veterans' military pensions and to urge you to take immediate action to ensure that our retired servicemembers receive the benefits they have earned.

According to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, a major information technology system malfunction in 2018 at the Department of the Air Force and Air Force Reserve Personnel Command (ARPC), created a backlog in processing of retirement paperwork. It is our understanding that the delays in processing the backlog of servicemembers' military pensions was exacerbated by an outdated IT system and inadequate staffing levels. While we understand that you have taken steps to eliminate the backlog, we are concerned that ARPC has yet not reached its goal of processing pending retirements 60 days in advance of a servicemember's retirement.

These processing delays have impacted servicemembers across the country. For example, in Minnesota, Senior Master Sergeant (SMSgt) Brian Magnuson - an Air Force veteran who served our nation for more than 33 years - worked for over three years to resolve an error that prevented proper calculation and payment of his military pension.

It is imperative that measures are taken to prevent situations like the ones faced by SMSgt Magnuson from happening to other men and women who have served in defense of our nation. We urge the Air Force and ARPC to review the processes for administering retirement benefits for our servicemembers. In addition, we respectfully request that you provide responses to the following questions:

  1. How many servicemembers have been affected by this backlog?
  2. What actions have you taken to ensure that this type of computation errors do not occur in the future-including steps taken to prevent major system malfunctions?
  3. What actions have you taken to reach your stated goal of processing pending retirement benefit applications in 60 days or less before a servicemember's retirement? When do you anticipate reaching this stated goal?
  4. What actions have you taken to advise servicemembers regarding the financial benefits that they have earned shortly before they leave service?

Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

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