CBO: Military pension growth to fall 5 percent by 2023 with cut

A controversial new pension cut for younger military retirees will help reduce projected growth for the retirement payments by about 5 percent by 2023, according to congressional number crunchers.

Estimates from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, released Tuesday, show that federal spending on military retirement benefits will rise from $51.5 billion this year to $64.3 billion in 2023 under current policy.

(Paula Bronstein/Getty) (Paula Bronstein/Getty)

Before the pension cut, spending on military retirement benefits was projected to rise from $50.4 billion this year to $67.5 billion in 2023, according to previous CBO estimates.

The reduced growth is at least partly due to a provision in the budget bill Congress and President Obama approved in December that reduces cost-of-living allowances for working-age military retirees by 1 percent starting next year. A higher rate will apply once those individuals reach age 62, and the plan does not affect disabled retirees.

Lawmakers from both parties have proposed repealing the pension cut with various bills, some of which would replace the savings with reductions in other areas such as spending on Egypt and Pakistan or Saturday mail delivery from the U.S. Postal Service.

Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) has introduced an omnibus Veterans Affairs bill that would eliminate the pension cut and expand certain veterans benefits, such as dental and medical care, education and caretaker stipends. The legislation would cost $30 billion over 10 years, according to the lawmaker.

Sanders said last month that he is open to paying for the measure with savings from winding down overseas contingency operations, formerly known as the global war on terror.

(Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the difference between spending before and after the pension cut, comparing projections through 2023 with projections through 2024. The current version compares the numbers through only 2023.)

Follow Josh Hicks on TwitterFacebook or Google+. Connect by e-mail at  josh.hicks@washpost.comVisit The Federal Eye, The Fed Page and Post Politics for more federal news. E-mail federalworker@washpost.com with news tips and other suggestions.

Josh Hicks covers Maryland politics and government. He previously anchored the Post’s Federal Eye blog, focusing on federal accountability and workforce issues.

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Josh Hicks · February 5, 2014

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