FRA NewsBytes October 17, 2014

FRA Newsbytes 10/17/2014

FRA Newsbytes 10/17/2014

In this issue:
Survivor Benefit Plan Changes
Camp Lejeune Contaminated Drinking Water
USMC Commandant Passage of Command
FRA National Convention

Survivor Benefit Plan Changes
A June 2013 legal review of DFAS practices has now determined that SBP is terminated upon the death of a covered former spouse SBP beneficiary. This means that a retiree is no longer able to resume SBP coverage for a current or future spouse. However, those who transferred benefits to a subsequent beneficiary previous to this decision will keep their benefits.

Before a June 2013 legal review of Defense Finance Accounting Service (DFAS), retirees were allowed to resume SBP coverage for their current spouse upon the death of a former spouse (court ordered) SBP beneficiary as long as a claim was filed within 12 months of death or within 12 months of a remarriage.

The interpretation of the law means that a former spouse must give consent before SBP is given to current or future wife. Now, death of a former spouse before consent to transfer benefits is given is interpreted as no consent given, which results in termination of benefits.

This change only affects recipients who are divorced and have a court order. This does not affect you if your spouse passes away while married.

FRA has dispatched a letter to Jessica Wright, Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, stating that the Association supports the interpretation that upon the death of a spouse, consent is no longer needed, allowing retirees to resume SBP coverage for a current or future spouse.

Camp Lejeune Contaminated Drinking Water
A federal court ruling in North Carolina on Tuesday, October 14, 2014, will have a devastating impact on many of the approximately one million people currently registered with the Marine Corps for their exposure at Camp Lejeune to three known human carcinogens found in the camp’s drinking water. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a North Carolina law limiting the time period in which a plaintiff can seek damages.

The law, called the statute of repose, places a 10-year limit on the time during which plaintiffs in that state can seek damages from exposure to contaminants, with no exception for latent diseases. The ruling came in response to a landmark Supreme Court case, CTS Corp. vs. Waldburger.

Camp Lejeune’s water supply was found to be contaminated from the 1950s to 1987, potentially affecting more than one million Marines, sailors, spouses and children who lived on base during that time.

USMC Commandant Passage of Command
Commandant of the Marine Corps General James Amos is packing up for the last time in his military career. He is vacating the Home of the Commandants at 8th & I, in Washington, D.C., making room for General Joseph Dunford. Amos was the first Marine Corps aviator to serve as Commandant.

The passage of command, during which Gen. Dunford will officially take charge as the 36th Commandant of the Marine Corps, is set to take place on Friday, October 17. Dunford previously served as commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan and of U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, leading all U.S. and allied troops. He also served as Assistant Commandant for two years under Amos.

FRA National Convention
This week, many of our shipmates are at FRA’s 87th National Convention in Corpus Christi, Texas. There, they will conduct Association business and elect new national officers for the coming year. Shipmates will also be celebrating FRA’s 90th Birthday Anniversary—FRA was founded on November 11, 1924.