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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
Veterans Affairs: Benefits for Service-Connected Disabilities
This report describes disability compensation, which is a benefit Congress provides to American veterans and their dependents through the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Disability compensation is a monthly cash benefit program for veterans currently impaired from past service-connected activities. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc700710/
Veterans Benefits: An Overview
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers a wide range of benefits and services to eligible veterans, members of their families, and survivors of deceased veterans. VA programs include disability compensation and pensions, readjustment benefits, and health care programs. The VA also provides life insurance, burial benefits, housing and other loan guaranty programs, and special counseling and outreach programs. While eligibility for specific benefits varies, veterans generally must meet requirements related to discharge type and length of active duty military service. This report provides an overview of major VA benefits and the VA budget. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10761/
Veterans' Benefits: Issues in the 110th Congress
This report discusses veterans' benefits issues that are already part of the legislative agenda for the 110th Congress or are likely to be of interest to Congress. These benefits and issues fall under the jurisdiction of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA). Also presented in this report are an overview of the benefits and their eligibility requirements, data on both the veteran population and the benefit population, and summary information on the FY2008 budget for veterans' benefits. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc462344/
U.S. Periods of War
Many wars or conflicts in U.S. history have federally designated "periods of war," dates marking their beginning and ending. These dates are important for qualification for certain veterans' pension or disability benefits. This report lists the beginning and ending dates for "periods of war" found in Title 38 of the Code of Federal Regulations, dealing with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). It also lists and differentiates other beginning dates given in declarations of war, as well as termination of hostilities' dates and armistice and ending dates given in proclamations, laws, or treaties. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10585/
Former Presidents: Pensions, Office Allowances, and Other Federal Benefits
This report describes the benefits Presidents receive upon leaving office, details the history of the Former Presidents Act (FPA), and analyzes some legislative options for the 110th Congress related to former Presidents. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc463229/
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) Investment Policy: Issues for Congress
The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation is a federal corporation established under Title IV of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. It insures private pension beneficiaries against the complete loss of accrued benefits if their defined benefit pension plan is terminated without adequate funding. It receives no appropriations from general revenue. Its operations are financed by insurance premiums set by Congress and paid by sponsors of defined benefit plans, investment income from the assets in its trust fund, and recoveries from the companies formerly responsible for the trusted plans. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc83884/
Pension Sponsorship and Participation: Summary of Recent Trends
This report discusses trends that will affect the economic well-being of future retirees. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc689315/
Overview of Filipino Veterans' Benefits
This report defines the four specific groups of Filipino nationals who served under the command of the United States. It also outlines the Rescission Acts of 1946, benefit changes since 1946, current benefits for Filipino veterans by group, and recent legislative proposals and legislation. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc795638/
Cost-of-Living Adjustments for Federal Civil Service Annuities
Cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) are based on the rate of inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). All CSRS retirees and survivors receive COLAs. Under FERS, however, non-disabled retirees under age 62 do not receive COLAs. This report discusses cost-of-living adjustments for government retirees, as well as related legislation. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26058/
Social Security: The Cost-of-Living Adjustment in January 2009
The 5.8% COLA payable in January 2009 was triggered by the rise in the CPI-W from the third quarter of 2007 to the third quarter of 2008. This COLA triggers identical percentage increases in Supplemental Security Income (SSI), veterans' pensions, and railroad retirement benefits, and causes other changes in the Social Security program. Although COLAs under the federal Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the federal military retirement program are not triggered by the Social Security COLA, these programs use the same measuring period and formula for computing their COLAs. Their recipients will also receive a 5.8% COLA in January 2009. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26056/
Veterans' Benefits: Issues in the 110th Congress
This report provides a general discussion of veterans' benefits issues that are part of the legislative agenda of the 110th Congress or are likely to be of legislative interest. Among those issues are disability compensation and pensions; education benefits; homelessness; life insurance; the status or eligibility of groups such as U.S. merchant seamen and World War II Filipino veterans for veterans' benefits; Reserve and National Guard eligibility for veterans' benefits; the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims; and legal representation for veterans. For each issue, an overview is provided, along with summaries of pertinent pending legislation. In addition, an overview of the benefits and their eligibility requirements, demographics for both the veteran population and the benefit population, and summary data on the FY2008 budget for veterans' benefits are provided. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc462776/
Annuities and the Securities and Exchange Commission Proposed Rule 151A
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently released a proposed rule that would effectively reclassify equity indexed annuities as a security product in addition to being an insurance product. This report presents the different types of annuities, explains the taxation of annuities, and disentangles the federal and state roles in the regulation of annuities. It outlines the proposed SEC rule and its current status. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10810/
Retirement Benefits for Members of Congress
This report discusses the Civil Service Retirement Act of 1920 (P.L. 66-215) that established a pension system for federal employees in the executive branch of government. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc795669/
Military Retirement: Background and Recent Developments
This report discusses the military retirement system. The system currently includes monthly compensation for qualified active and reserve retirees, disability benefits for those deemed medically unfit to serve, and a survivor annuity program for the eligible survivors of deceased retirees. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc822535/
Converting Retirement Savings into Income: Annuities and Periodic Withdrawals
To a worker contemplating retirement, there is perhaps no more important question than "How long will my money last?" Congress has a strong interest in the income security of older Americans because much of their income is either provided directly from public programs like Social Security, or in the case of pensions and retirement accounts, is subsidized through tax deductions and deferrals. This report discusses risks involved with retirement fund disbursement and strategies for dealing with such risks. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc83870/
Pension Issues: Lump-Sum Distributions and Retirement Income Security
This report covers several issues regarding pensions. Forty-seven percent of all workers aged 21 and older participated in employer-sponsored retirement plans in 2006, but not all of these workers will receive a pension or other income from these plans when they retire. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc795436/
Federal Employees: Pay and Pension Increases Since 1969
Under the terms of the Federal Employees' Pay Comparability Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-509), pay for civilian federal employees is adjusted each year to keep the salaries of federal workers competitive with comparable occupations in the private sector. The annual increases in federal employee pay are based on changes in the cash compensation paid to workers in the private sector, as measured by the ECI. Under certain circumstances, the President may limit the annual increase in federal pay by executive order. Federal law also requires Social Security benefits and the pensions paid to retired federal employees to be adjusted each year. The COLAs for both Social Security and civil service pensions are based on the rate of inflation as measured by the CPI. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26065/
The Worker, Retiree, and Employer Recovery Act of 2008: An Overview
This report highlights the provisions of the Worker, Retiree, and Employer Recovery Act of 2008 (WRERA) (P.L. 110-455) relating to the economic crisis. This report also discusses certain technical corrections to the Pension Protection Act made by WRERA, and certain other notable provisions of the Act affecting retirement plans and benefits. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc795743/
Retirement Plan Participation and Contributions: Trends from 1998 to 2006
This report discusses worker participation in employer-sponsored retirement plans. The analysis CRS conducted for this report focused on workers aged 21 and older with a paid job in the private sector. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc795471/
Overview of Filipino Veterans' Benefits
This report defines the four specific groups (Regular Philippine Scouts, Commonwealth Army of the Philippines, Recognized Guerilla Forces, and New Philippine Scouts) of Filipino nationals who served under the command of the United States. It also outlines the Rescission Acts of 1946, benefit changes since 1946, current benefits for Filipino veterans by group, and recent legislative proposals and legislation, including the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA, P.L. 111-5). digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc743552/
Social Security: The Government Pension Offset (GPO)
This report discusses the social security benefits and the spousal benefits of individuals who are not financially dependent on their spouses because they receive benefits based on their own work records. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc822505/
Credit for Military Service Under Civilian Federal Employee Retirement Systems
This report discusses the earned pension benefits under one of two retirement plans for the federal employees with permanent appointments. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc743586/
Veterans' Benefits: Pension Benefit Programs
This report describes several pension benefit programs for veterans and their families, including the eligibility criteria and current benefit levels. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc503427/
Retirement Savings and Household Wealth in 2007
This report discusses various issues that impact the retirement income of Americans. About half of all workers in the United States participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan of some kind, a proportion that has remained relatively stable over the past thirty years. Because the majority of assets held in retirement accounts are invested in stocks, trends in stock prices have a significant impact on households' retirement account balances. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc700850/
Social Security: The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP)
This report discusses the windfall elimination provision (WEP), which reduces the Social Security benefits of workers who also have pension benefits from employment not covered by Social Security. Its purpose is to remove an advantage these workers would otherwise receive because Social Security’s benefit formula is weighted such that workers with low lifetime earnings receive a greater share of their covered earnings in benefits than workers with medium or high lifetime earnings. Opponents contend that the provision is basically imprecise and can be unfair. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc818160/
Summary of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)
Due to the recent economic decline and the desire to enact large-scale health reform, the current federal regulation of pension plans, health plans, and other employee benefit plans has received considerable congressional attention. The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) provides a comprehensive federal scheme for the regulation of employee pension and welfare benefit plans offered by private-sector employers. ERISA contains various provisions intended to protect the rights of plan participants and beneficiaries in employee benefit plans. This report provides background on the pension laws prior to ERISA, discusses various types of employee benefit plans governed by ERISA, provides an overview of ERISA’s requirements, and includes a glossary of commonly used terms. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc822611/
401(k) Plans and Retirement Savings: Issues for Congress
Over the past 25 years, defined contribution (DC) plans - including 401(k) plans - have become the most prevalent form of employer-sponsored retirement plan in the United States. This report describes seven major policy issues with respect to defined contribution plans: 1) access to employer-sponsored retirement plans; 2) participation in employer-sponsored plans; 3) contribution rates; 4) investment choices; 5) fee disclosure; 6) leakage from retirement savings; and 7) converting retirement savings into income. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26189/
Income of Americans Aged 65 and Older, 1968 to 2008
This report presents data collected by the Census Bureau in the Current Population Survey from 1969 through 2009 about the employment status and the sources and amounts of income received by people aged 65 and older. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc627049/
U.S. Periods of War
This report lists the beginning and ending dates for "periods of war" found in Title 38 of the Code of Federal Regulations, dealing with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). It also lists and differentiates other beginning dates given in declarations of war, as well as termination of hostilities dates and armistice and ending dates given in proclamations, laws, or treaties. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc626965/
Automatic Cost of Living Adjustments: Some Economic and Practical Considerations
This report looks at how automatic cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) influence the budget and identifies major programs that have indexing provisions. It also explains what price indexes attempt to measure and discusses some of their weaknesses. Finally, it points out some practical things to keep in mind when establishing an indexing provision. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc503634/
Federal Employees: Pay and Pension Increases Since 1969
Under the terms of the Federal Employees' Pay Comparability Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-509), pay for civilian federal employees is adjusted each year to keep the salaries of federal workers competitive with comparable occupations in the private sector. The annual increases in federal employee pay are based on changes in the cash compensation paid to workers in the private sector, as measured by the ECI. Under certain circumstances, the President may limit the annual increase in federal pay by executive order. Federal law also requires Social Security benefits and the pensions paid to retired federal employees to be adjusted each year. The COLAs for both Social Security and civil service pensions are based on the rate of inflation as measured by the CPI. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29484/
Fee Disclosure in Defined Contribution Retirement Plans: Background and Legislation
This report provides information on the kinds of fees that are charged in 401(k) and other defined contribution plans and details the provisions of bills introduced in the 111th Congress that address fee disclosure in retirement plans. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc822515/
Social Security: The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP)
This report discusses the windfall elimination provision (WEP), which reduces the Social Security benefits of workers who also have pension benefits from employment not covered by Social Security. Its purpose is to remove an advantage or “windfall” these workers would otherwise receive as a result of the interaction between the Social Security benefit formula and the workers’ relatively short careers in Social Security-covered employment. Opponents contend that the provision is basically imprecise and can be unfair. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc819331/
Veterans' Benefits: Pension Benefit Programs
This report describes several pension benefit programs for veterans and their families, including the eligibility criteria and current benefit levels. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc503535/
Social Security Retirement Earnings Test: How Earnings Affect Benefits
Social Security benefits received before a person attains full retirement age (FRA) are subject to an actuarial reduction for early retirement and also may be reduced by the Social Security Retirement Earnings Test (RET) if the beneficiary has earnings that exceed an annual threshold. This report explains how the RET is applied under current law and provides detailed benefit examples to show how the RET affects both the worker beneficiary and any family members (auxiliary beneficiaries) who receive benefits based on the worker beneficiary’s record. The report points out features of the RET that are not widely known or understood, such as the recomputation of benefits when a beneficiary attains FRA to adjust (increase) benefits to take into account months for which no benefit or a partial benefit was paid as a result of the RET. Finally, the report discusses policy issues related to the RET, including recent research on the effect of the RET on work effort and the decision to claim Social Security benefits. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc812981/
Veterans Affairs: Benefits for Service-Connected Disabilities
This report describes disability compensation, which is a benefit Congress provides to American veterans and their dependents through the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Disability compensation is a monthly cash benefit program for veterans currently impaired from past service-connected activities. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491175/
Veterans Affairs: "Gray Area Retirees"-- Issues and Related Legislation
The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides a broad range of benefits and services to American veterans and to certain members of their families. In addition, the Department of Defense (DOD) offers a variety of benefits to veterans who are also military retirees. When members of the National Guard or the Reserve who have not yet reached age 60 retire (usually after at least 20 years of service), however, they are not entitled to certain federal benefits, including health care. These military retirees are commonly known as "Gray Area Retirees" (GARs). These persons may not necessarily meet the relevant statutory definition of "veterans" for VA benefit purposes, nor are they eligible for DOD health benefits until they are eligible for military retired pay at age 60. This report examines the current VA and DOD benefit eligibility for members of the National Guard and the Reserves. It also examines the benefit status and situation of GARs. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491654/
Securities and Exchange Commission Rule 151A and Annuities: Issues and Legislation
This report explains the different types of annuities, the taxation of annuities, and disentangles the federal and state roles in the regulation of annuities. It outlines the SEC rule, including practical considerations for implementation. It also discusses congressional action in response to the SEC rule. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491613/
Military Retirement: Background and Recent Developments
This report discusses the nature of the military retirement system. The military retirement system is a non-contributory, defined benefit system that has historically been viewed as a significant incentive in retaining a career military force. The system currently includes monthly compensation and benefits after an active or reserve military career, disability retirement for those physically unfit to continue to serve, and survivor benefits for the eligible survivors of deceased retirees. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491367/
Veterans' Benefits: Burial Benefits and National Cemeteries
This report provides a descriptive analysis of both nonmonetary and monetary burial benefits and national cemeteries. This report addresses congressional and constituent issues such as who is eligible to receive burial benefits; who can be buried in a national cemetery; what plans does the Department of Veterans Affairs have to build new or expand existing national cemeteries; and what benefits does the VA provide, among others. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491385/
U.S. Periods of War
Many wars or conflicts in U.S. history have federally designated "periods of war," dates marking their beginning and ending. This report lists the beginning and ending dates for "periods of war" found in Title 38 of the Code of Federal Regulations, dealing with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). It also lists and differentiates other beginning dates given in declarations of war, as well as termination of hostilities dates and armistice and ending dates given in proclamations, laws, or treaties. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc31444/
Veterans' Benefits: Burial Benefits and National Cemeteries
This report provides a descriptive analysis of both nonmonetary and monetary burial veterans' benefits and national cemeteries. It addresses congressional and constituent issues, such as who is eligible to receive burial benefits; who can be buried in a national cemetery; what plans does the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) have to build new or expand existing national cemeteries; and what benefits does the VA provide, among others. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc93842/
Cost-of-Living Adjustments for Federal Civil Service Annuities
Cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) are based on the rate of inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). All CSRS retirees and survivors receive COLAs. Under FERS, however, non-disabled retirees under age 62 do not receive COLAs. This report discusses cost-of-living adjustments for government retirees, as well as related legislation. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc31303/
Veterans' Benefits: Burial Benefits and National Cemeteries
This report provides a descriptive analysis of both nonmonetary and monetary burial veterans' benefits and national cemeteries. It addresses congressional and constituent issues, such as who is eligible to receive burial benefits; who can be buried in a national cemetery; what plans does the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) have to build new or expand existing national cemeteries; and what benefits does the VA provide, among others. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29602/
Veterans' Benefits: Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) for Survivors
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers directly, or in conjunction with other federal agencies, several benefits for surviving spouses, children, and dependent parents of deceased veterans to provide them with financial, educational, and emotional support. Among these various programs, Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) is a monthly tax-free cash payment for eligible surviving spouses, children, and dependent parents. This report outlines the eligibility requirements and benefit levels for DIC, the policy issues associated with DIC, and legislation in the 111th Congress related to DIC. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29574/
Veterans' Benefits: Pension Benefit Programs
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) administers several pension benefit programs for veterans as well as their surviving spouses and dependent children. The most current pension programs available (for those meeting the eligibility criteria on or after January 1, 1979) are the Improved Disability Pension for certain low-income veterans and the Improved Death Pension for certain low-income surviving spouses or children of veterans. There is also a special pension for Medal of Honor recipients. This report describes these programs, including the eligibility criteria and current benefit levels. This report will be updated as needed to reflect legislative activity and changes to benefits or eligibility requirements. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29754/
Veterans Affairs: Benefits for Service-Connected Disabilities
This report describes disability compensation, which is a benefit Congress provides to American veterans and their dependents through the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Disability compensation is a monthly cash benefit program for veterans currently impaired from past service-connected activities. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29668/
Federal Employees: Pension COLAs and Pay Adjustments Since 1969
Congress has linked adjustments in federal pay to the ECI so that wages for federal employees will remain competitive with wages paid by firms in the private sector. Under the terms of the Federal Employees' Pay Comparability Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-509), pay for civilian federal employees is adjusted each year to keep the salaries of federal workers competitive with comparable occupations in the private sector. These annual adjustments in federal employee pay-which are distinct from any pay raises associated with within-grade step increases or promotions to a higher pay grade-are based on changes in the cash compensation paid to workers in the private sector, as measured by the ECI. Under certain circumstances, the President may limit the annual increase in federal pay by executive order. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc83804/
Retirement and Survivor Annuities for Former Spouses of Federal Employees
This report discusses the retirement benefits for federal employees that are governed by chapters 83 (CSRS) and 84 (FERS) of Title 5 of the United States Code. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491040/
Credit for Military Service Under Civilian Federal Employee Retirement Systems
Federal employees with permanent appointments earn pension benefits under one of two retirement plans. Employees hired after 1983 participate in the Federal Employees' Retirement System (FERS). Employees hired before 1984 participate in the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) unless they elected to transfer to the FERS during open seasons held in 1987 and 1998. This report discusses the changes in legislation that allowed veterans who subsequently became civilian federal employees to count their years of active-duty military service toward retirement eligibility and pension benefits under CSRS. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491109/