ARLINGTON, Va. — After weeks of uncertainty, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service will start issuing retroactive stop-loss payments on Dec. 16, officials said.

But most people who have applied for the money should not expect to get paid by Christmas.

The Army estimates about 120,000 people are eligible for $500 for every month they were held beyond their initial end of service between September 2001 and September 2008. Initially, the Army only sent 284 applications to DFAS for payment, expecting to send thousands more after the first ones were paid.

Now the Army will send bundles of applications to DFAS every week, with DFAS expected to have about 1,000 applications by Wednesday, said Army spokeswoman Jill Mueller.

"As many as we have done, we will send," Mueller said in an e-mail on Monday.

Each of the services has been accepting applications for retroactive stop-loss compensation since Oct. 21, but funding for the program was not available until Nov. 19. The first Air Force payments went out on Nov. 25.

Many people have complained that they have had problems applying for Army retroactive stop-loss pay, including being told their Social Security numbers aren’t on the master list of soldiers who were stop-lossed, or that the Army doesn’t agree with the length of time they claim they were held under stop-loss.

Wilson Ortiz Torres tried to retire from the Army in 2003, but he was held under stop-loss until 2005.

He received an e-mail from the Army saying his Social Security number wasn’t on the master list, despite the fact that he submitted his request to retire and his DD-214 form, which shows when he was discharged.

On Tuesday, he got an e-mail from the Army saying his claim will be processed "by a case manager in the order it was received," but it offered no time line.

Now he’s wondering what the next step is, and whether there will be another problem.

"It’s going to go on and on until they finally say it’s complete now," he said.

The Army is aware that the retroactive stop-loss pay program needs to be accelerated, Mueller said.

"No one is satisfied with the output right now," she said.

For more information on the Army’s retroactive stop-loss compensation program, call 1-877-736-5554.

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