Retroactive stop-loss payments temporarily halted
December 24, 2009
ARLINGTON, Va. — The Army and Air Force have temporarily stopped payments to soldiers and airmen who were held under stop-loss between September 2001 and September 2008 because a provision in the recently passed Defense Appropriations Bill makes fewer servicemembers eligible.
The bill makes clear that troops who re-enlisted or extended their contract and collected a bonus while being held under stop-loss do not qualify for the compensation.
The temporary halt will last until the Army gets a list of soldiers who received a re-enlistment or retention bonus while being stop-lossed, said Army spokeswoman Jill Mueller.
“The services didn’t decide this,” Mueller said on Wednesday. “This was decided by the legislature and we are executing their will.”
Mueller declined to estimate how long this might take, noting the holidays are approaching.
In the meantime, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service has returned to the Army 1,700 claims for retroactive stop-loss pay that were in processing to be paid out, she said.
“We were thrilled that we put in 1,700 claims in the last week, but this provision is a game-changer, albeit temporary,” she said.
The Air Force is now working with DFAS to see how the new rule affects people who have applied for retroactive stop-loss pay, said Daniel Elkins, a spokesman for the Air Force Personnel Center.
Elkins could not say how long the temporary suspension will last, but he said the Air Force and DFAS would work to resolve the matter as quickly as possible.
About 120,000 soldiers and 39,000 airmen are eligible for $500 for every month they were held beyond their initial end of service.
When asked if the Army and Air Force would try to recoup any payments to soldiers and airmen who no longer qualify, both Mueller and Elkins deferred to the Defense Department.
The Defense Department is reviewing the legislation, said department spokeswoman Eileen Lainez on Tuesday. She added, “More to follow soon.”
“We know there will be many servicemembers and veterans who will be disappointed because they no longer qualify for this special pay, but they need to know that this was a decision made by Congress,” Mueller said.