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Palazzo Applauds Inclusion of Coast Guard Retirement Parity Act in Annual Defense Bill

Washington, DC – Congressman Steven Palazzo (MS-4) released the following statement on inclusion of the bipartisan Coast Guard Retirement Parity Act (H.R. 6072), led with Congressman Charlie Crist (FL-15), which protects the retirement benefits of United States Coast Guard (USCG) veterans in the event of a government shutdown. The bill was included in the FY21 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Unlike the other branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, under current law, Coast Guard retirement benefits require annual funding from Congress. Because they rely on this funding mechanism, if the federal government shuts down due to a budget disagreements, Coast Guard servicemembers and retirees go without pay. 

During the January 2019 government shutdown when active duty Coasties were not being paid, over 50,000 Coast Guard retirees were just days away from missing their retirement check. The bill would protect these earned benefits of thousands of USCG retirees by including the Coast Guard in the Military Retirement Fund – just like every other branch of the military – providing protection from a potential government shutdown.

“When the government shutdown in 2019, thousands of Coast Guard active-duty servicemembers’ and veterans’ benefits were threatened, which is unfair. It is only right that those who serve are guaranteed uninterrupted retirement benefits,” said Rep. Palazzo. “I am proud to know that our amendment will correct this disparity and give our Coast Guard members and veterans peace of mind should we ever reach another government shutdown.”

“After dutifully serving our nation for decades, no U.S. veteran should ever have to worry about an interruption in the retirement benefits they have earned and that their families rely upon,” said Rep. Crist. “For the Coasties who call Pinellas County home, and all those across the nation, I am proud that my bipartisan legislation has been included in the Coast Guard Authorization Act. And with the Coast Guard Authorization Act now being tacked on to the annual Defense Authorization bill, Coast Guard veterans and their families are on a path to having their pay and benefits protected for the long run.”

This bill adds Coast Guard retirement benefits under the same framework within Title 10 US Code as the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force. Benefits are paid through the Military Retirement Fund, a fiscally responsible pension fund established in the 1980s and managed by a board of actuaries. Once passed, every year the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security (which the Coast Guard operates under in peacetime) contributes to the fund in anticipation of future retiree costs, while paying current retiree benefits from the fund. This removes the threat to retired Coast Guard servicemembers in the event of a government shutdown by providing funding security across all military branches.