Congressional Research Service Reports - Browse

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The Military Survivor Benefit Plan: A Description of Its Provisions
This report describes the basic provisions of the military Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) and all relevant changes or modifications that have occurred since its creation in 1972.
Military Benefits for Former Spouses: Legislation and Policy Issues
The purpose of this report is to provide a general discussion of legislative provisions and proposals relating to the military benefits for former spouses.
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.
Veterans' Benefits: Pension Benefit Programs
This report describes pension benefit programs offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), including the eligibility criteria and current benefit levels, and provides data on the number of pension beneficiaries in FY2010. 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, the Improved Death Pension for certain low-income surviving spouses or children of veterans, as well as a special pension for Medal of Honor recipients.
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.
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.
Early Withdrawals and Required Minimum Distributions in Retirement Accounts: Issues for Congress
In response to the economic downturn, Congress considered providing relief to Americans by suspending two tax penalties on defined contribution retirement plans and Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). This report discusses the reasons offered in support of suspending these provisions, as well as the drawbacks. This report also presents data that estimates the number of households that these proposals would impact. Borrowing from retirement plans as an alternative to withdrawals is also discussed. Finally, the report discusses the kinds of proposals offered to either suspend or eliminate the early withdrawal penalty or the required minimum distribution provision.
Federal Employees' Retirement System: Benefits and Financing
Most civilian federal employees who were hired before 1984 are covered by the Civil Service Retirement System, and contribute 7.0% of their pay to a retirement fund. Federal employees hired in 1984 or later are covered by the Federal Employees' Retirement System and contribute 0.8% of their pay to a retirement fund. Both require participants to contribute toward the cost of their pensions through a payroll tax. The taxable wage base is $106,800 in 2011. This report discusses both retirement funds.
Federal Employees' Retirement System: Summary of Recent Trends
This report describes recent trends in the number of civil service annuitants and the financial status of the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund.
Legal Issues Related to Proving “Service Connection” for VA Disability Compensation: Statutory Presumptions
This report provides a basic overview of various statutory presumptions that help veterans substantiate a service-connected claim for disability compensation.
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.
Veterans Affairs: A Preliminary Analysis of the FY2012 Appropriations Request
This report provides a preliminary analysis of the President's budget request for FY2012 for the programs administered by the VA. This report is not an exhaustive discussion of VA's budget request for FY2012. A full CRS report on FY2012 VA budget and appropriations issues is planned after initial congressional consideration of appropriations legislation.
Veterans' Benefits: Burial Benefits and National Cemeteries
Report providing a descriptive analysis of both nonmonetary and monetary burial benefits and national cemeteries.
Veterans' Benefits: Burial Benefits and National Cemeteries
This report provides a descriptive analysis of both nonmonetary and monetary burial 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 VA have to build new or expand existing national cemeteries; and what benefits does the VA provide, among others.