By Tom Vanden Brook
Copyright 2014 USA Today
WASHINGTON — A Pentagon commission on military compensation will review a 2007 increase in pensions for three- and four-star officers that made the retirement pay of some officers higher than what they made on active duty, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told a Senate panel Tuesday.
Navy Adm. James Winnefeld said the commission will examine the change as it examines all compensation issues.
The Pentagon had requested the change in law for top brass in 2003 to help retain senior officers as the military was fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and wanted to keep experienced officers on active duty.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., asked Winnefeld if the changes to pensions for top brass, which boosted their pensions as much as 63 percent, should be reviewed.
A four-star general or admiral retiring with 40 years of experience would receive a pension of $237,144, according to the Pentagon. Base pay for active-duty top officers is $181,501, according to the Pentagon. Housing and other allowances can increase their compensation an additional third.
Winnefeld testified as part of a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing into a reduction in cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for military retirees under the age of 62. The change, which was included in a budget deal struck late last year, would see pensions for veterans under the age of 62 decrease 1 percent annually beginning in 2015. The COLA reduction was eliminated for disabled veterans.