If a bill that recently passed the U.S. House of Representatives passes muster with the U.S. Senate, federal retirees living in the U.S. territories, Alaska and Hawaii will get cost-of-living increases, according to Monique Clendinen Watson, spokeswoman for Delegate Donna M. Christensen.
Currently, federal retirees who retired from those areas do not get cost-of-living increases. Federal retirees on the mainland do get the increases.
"The bill means that retirement checks for all retirees, no matter where they live or where they retired, will be calculated the same," Christensen said in a news release issued Friday.
The cost-of-living increases, called COLA in federal parlance, vary by location, Watson said Monday. If a person retires from a federal job in the Virgin Islands, he’ll get one amount. His counterpart retiring from a job in say, Washington, D.C., will get another amount.
However, Watson said that the amount the retiree gets depends on where he retired. She said that a person who retired from a federal job in Connecticut, for example, and then moves to the Virgin Islands, will get benefits based on his Connecticut retirement.
Implementation of the bill would begin with a freeze in cost-of-living rates and conclude with a phase-in over the next three years.
Watson expects the bill to pass the Senate.
The bill is part of the Disabled Military Retiree Relief Act of 2009. Other benefits in the bill include a 3.4-percent pay raise for service members, expansion of TRICARE health coverage to reserve members and their families for 180 days before mobilization, and a limit on the collection of pay and allowance overpayments due to clerical error.
Additionally, the bill includes $1.95 billion for family housing programs, travel and transportation for three designated people to visit hospitalized service members, and allows the use of non-medical attendants for daily help and travel for injured service members.
The bill establishes a pilot program for military spouses to intern in federal agencies, designates $50 million for Impact Aid funding and $15 million for BRAC-affected areas, establishes a Department of Defense School of Nursing, and provides scholarships to students pursuing degrees in mental-health programs.