Saturday, 3 November 2012

one more thought

The other thing I had in mind yesterday was the VA, which also reminds me of the military retirement system.

Preface by saying how very grateful I am that Bob can stay at home and live on his USAF retirement and his VA disability checks. He probably could work at some jobs, but he wouldn't live very long if he did (if I didn't kill him, he would eventually wear out from pain, stress, and all the extra medications necessary to combat the pain and stress).

But it's SOOOOO dumb!!! Sarcasm and over-reacting here.
Okay, Bob is going to college on the Post 9/11 GI Bill, which is handled by the VA. They pay the school so much, and they pay us a little for books and housing (half rate on housing because the school is online). Well, a while back Bob took a 6 week break from school, and the school didn't notify the VA, so they paid us the housing for that 6 week period. Now, it seems logical and efficient to me for them to have simply withheld the following 6 weeks' allowance and it would all be even and fixed.  But being a government entity, they: sent us a letter saying they'd overpaid us and would contact us soon about the repayment options. A month later they sent a letter saying they'd decided what to do. We could write them a check, call to set up payment plans, or call to say why it would create a hardship for us to pay it back. Then it said if we were to receive future payments we should do nothing, and they would take the money out of the future pay. So that's what we did (nothing). Then a month later they sent another letter saying that since we hadn't called or paid, they would start withholding from future payments (duh!) and that would start in January. THEN a month later they sent YET ANOTHER letter, saying that our "indebtedness" had been reduced by so much, and the rest would be paid off the next month. Huh. To add to all this wastefulness (their time, my time, the postage and paper and filing of copies and updating the records), EACH letter contains 3 pages of how to contact the VA and what to do if you think their ruling isn't fair. I guess this is their way of combating the problems of veterans not getting the help they need or deserve. Anyway, I just think the whole thing is silly.

And then another thing about military retirement is the healthcare. For one, didn't they used to promise free healthcare? Maybe that's just for the retiree (not family); in that case, he can get it if he wants to go to the VA hospital. Anyway, we pay a monthly premium for health insurance for the family. In return we get to pick (from a short list) a Primary Care Manager (regular doctor) whom we can visit for preventative care once a year and for any issues that come up, with a $12 "copay" at each visit. Except, so far I haven't been able to get the children seen, but that's another story. I have generally been happy with Tricare. Today I am fussing about the rate increase.
We recently found out that our annual rate will go from $460 to $539. Granted, that is what some people pay per month; my gripe is actually with the wording in the announcement. The official USAF retiree newsletter says "The National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2012 allows for the annual increase of TRICARE Prime enrollment fees for most retired beneficiaries based on the annual cost-of-living adjustment." Well, our COLA for this year is 1.7 percent. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that Tricare is going up by far more than 1.7%. I guess I should be glad that the price increase doesn't equal our whole COLA (it's only about half). sigh.

I'm really not an unhappy person, honest. Stupidity just bugs me, and I enjoy getting to blare my opinions in this way.


Anonymous said...

The Internet is finally working long enough to get caught up on you blog.
I can understand your frustration with government bureaucracy -- still deal with it occasionally.
Yes, Daniel is gorgeous. :)

Wil said...

" I enjoy getting to blare my opinions in this way"

The best part of blogging. :-)

I'm probably misunderstanding the paperwork part of the first long paragraph, but what I understood sounded reasonable. If they didn't send that out, there'd be people wondering what was going on.

It does sound like a lot of paperwork overall, but each part (taken alone) seems to make sense.

Computers were supposed to reduce paperwork (and they have for me), but for most businesses and government entities, computers are just an easy way to create paperwork. :-)