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5 Ways Fiscal Cliff Deal Affects Your Taxes

posted Jan 12, 2013, 1:58 PM by Dawn Olsen   [ updated Jan 12, 2013, 1:58 PM by Neslo Ventures ]

Credit.com | by Benjamin Feldman

Taxes

At the last possible moment, Congress finally approved a deal to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff that was threatening to enact automatic cuts to government programs and tax increases on Americans.

While the fiscal cliff was a self-imposed crisis resulting from a previous bipartisan deal by members of Congress, it’s nice to know that our elected officials were able to come to an agreement on how to resolve the crisis (at least for the moment).

But for us regular citizens, there are lots of changes to how our taxes will be calculated. And many people are trying to figure out the implications of the deal for their own finances. So let’s look at how this deal will affect you:

1. Income Taxes

The most high-profile part of the fiscal cliff negotiations centered on income tax rates. President Obama wanted to extend tax cuts on individuals with an annual income below $250,000 while increasing tax rates on those with an income above $250,000. Republicans, meanwhile, wanted to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for all income levels.

The agreement they reached will raise the top tax rate from 35% to 39.6%. That rate applies to individuals making more than $400,000 and couples making more than $450,000 a year.

So if you earn more than $400,000 individually or $450,000 combined, you will see your income taxes go up. If not, then your income taxes will stay the same. However, your payroll taxes might increase.

2. Social Security Payroll Taxes

Social Security is funded by a 12.4% tax on wages below $113,700. Prior to 2011, employers were required to pay half of that and workers were required to pay the other half. But starting in 2011, President Obama had initiated a temporary cut that reduced the share workers pay from 6.2% to 4.2%.

That change saved an average family about $1,000 per year for the past two years. However, the cut was not extended as part of the fiscal cliff deal, which means workers will begin paying the higher 6.2% rate again in 2013.

Because payroll taxes are taken out of paychecks directly, many people will find out very soon that their next paycheck is smaller than it was in 2012.

3. Dividend and Capital Gains Taxes

Up to now, the tax rate for dividend and long-term capital gains was 15% for everyone. With the recent agreement in place, that rate will rise to 20% for high-income earners who make over $400,000 per year individually or $450,000 per year as a couple.

For anyone whose income is below that threshold, dividend and long-term capital gains tax rates will remain at 15%.

4. Estate Taxes

Prior to the recent deal, only estates of greater than $5 million were subject to the estate tax, which requires that taxes be paid on a person’s estate (in other words, their property and assets) before it can be passed on to a relative or friend either as a gift or in a will. The only thing that changed in this deal is that the tax rate on estates increases from 35% to 40% -- but again, that only applies to estates valued at more than $5 million, so most Americans won’t need to adjust their wills.

5. Earned Income Tax Credit

On the other end of the spectrum, the Earned Income Tax Credit is a tax credit that low-income families and individuals are eligible for. It provides up to about $5,000 a year in refundable tax credits to those who qualify based on income level and employment. So how did the fiscal cliff deal affect this? Well, not at all. The deal includes a continuation of the same rules for the Earned Income Tax Credit that have been in place since 2009.

Future Tax Changes

The final point — and one that should not be lost on anyone — is that more changes may be in store in the very near future. That’s because the fiscal cliff deal basically guarantees another standoff in Congress within the next 2-3 months, when the debt ceiling will need to be raised and when another round of negotiations between Democrats and Republicans is sure to take place. So keep an eye out for whatever other changes come about!

And if you are expecting to get a tax refund this year, learn how to use your tax refund to improve your financial situation.

On the other hand, if you are worried about your upcoming tax bill and feel like you need to save some money this month, try cutting back on small items like coffee. Regardless of how the latest fiscal cliff deal affects your taxes, there are steps you can take to have a more financially sound 2013.

This story is an Op/Ed contribution to Credit.com and does not represent the views of the company or its affiliates.

VA Loan Benefits in Today's Market

posted Jun 19, 2012, 4:19 AM by Neslo Ventures   [ updated Jun 19, 2012, 4:19 AM ]

Week of June 18, 2012

The VA program won't deny a loan based solely on a low credit score, and most lenders don't tier interest rates for better scores. The VA program usually looks at only the previous 12 months of credit history, unless bankruptcy, a tax lien or a collections situation factors into your situation. Additionally, the VA home mortgage loan doesn't require a down payment. Borrowers can often refinance to a lower rate within the VA program without re-qualifying for the program through the VA Streamline Refinance Loan. If the borrower has a service-related disability, they may qualify for the lender to waive the funding fee, further reducing closing costs. Get more information on the benefits of the VA Loan.

Next Step: Connect with lenders ready to help you use your VA Loan

VA Disability Compensation and Divorce – Facts and Fallacies

posted Apr 12, 2012, 9:17 PM by Neslo Ventures   [ updated Apr 12, 2012, 9:17 PM ]

Courtesy of www.VeteransToday.com

INTRODUCTION

As a service to our legal assistance clients, we have prepared this handout with frequently asked questions on issues involving VA disability compensation and its relation to divorce, family support, garnishment and military pension division. It is, of course, very general in nature since no handout can answer your specific questions.

We do ask, however, that you read over these questions and answers carefully in connection with your visit to our legal assistance attorneys so that you may have the fullest information available to help you with your family law problem. Comments, corrections and suggestions regarding this pamphlet should be sent to the address at the end of the last page.

Background

Many military personnel, spouses, former spouses and retirees are victimized by myths and misstatements about  disability payments from the Department of Veterans Affairs and their effect on money issues in a divorce. Some people  claim that VA benefits can be divided in a divorce, just like a military pension.

Some claim that VA disability pay is “off limits” in calculation of child support and alimony. Even lawyers have a hard  time understanding whether – and how – a court can order garnishment of VA payments to accomplish the prompt and full  payment of family support ordered by the judge. Those who have served our country in uniform, and those who have  accompanied them, are entitled to honest answers. Below are some of the questions and charges made, followed by accurate  and straightforward answers.

1. Q. I’ve heard that Congress clearly intended to protect veterans’ benefits from being awarded to anyone other than the veteran who earned those benefits under any circumstances.

A. This myth has been making the rounds recently. Like the stories of Bigfoot, Shangri-La and the Loch Ness Monster, it has a core of “believers.” And like these examples, it’s not true. Congress wrote the law on veterans’ benefits, found at  Title 38 of the U.S. Code, with an eye toward exempting VA benefits from most creditors’ claims; ordinary creditors are  barred from execution or garnishment of VA payments. But family members are not ordinary creditors. They are, in fact, the  subject of special protections in Title 38, both for child support and alimony.

2. Q. But my ex-husband told me that the federal law on “Veterans’ Benefits,” Title 38, U.S. Code, Section 5301 and following provisions, was written by Congress to protect veterans’ benefits from third-party awards under any legal process whatsoever. Is that true?

A. Not at all. The case that lays down the law on this is Rose v. Rose (U.S. Supreme Court 1987). There the Court made it clear that 10 U.S.C. Section 5301 (the “anti-attachment clause” in Title 38) does not apply to court orders which require a veteran to support his or her family. VA benefits can and should be considered as income when the judge is deciding how much support a spouse or children need and what a veteran is able to pay.

3. Q. What exactly does the statute say about a third party getting at benefits paid by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)?

A. Title 38, U.S. Code, “Veterans’ Benefits,” says at §5301(a)(1) – Payments of benefits due or to become due under any law administered by the Secretary shall not be assignable except to the extent specifically authorized by law, and such payments made to, or on account of, a beneficiary shall be exempt from taxation, shall be exempt from the claim of creditors, and shall not be liable to attachment, levy, or seizure by 2 or under any legal or equitable process whatever, either before or after receipt by the beneficiary.

4. Q. Is there a loophole in the law that allows the judge to consider my ex-husband’s VA disability compensation as a divisible asset in a divorce?

A. No. Federal law – in particular, the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act, found at 10 U.S.C. 1408 – exempts VA disability payments from division upon divorce. It is not an asset which can be divided at divorce as marital or community property.

5. Q. I’ve heard that state laws do not take precedence over federal law. That means that my VA benefits are immune from any consideration or garnishment in domestic court, right?

A. While part of the statement is correct – that state laws are subordinate to federal laws – the rest of the statement could be called “urban legend.” It’s just not so. In general, all sources of income must be considered by the court in determining support, whether the income is taxable or tax-free, whether the source is wages, rents, royalties, VA benefits, military retired pay, Combat-Related Special Compensation, Social Security Disability payments or even an inheritance from your Uncle Louie! And the provisions of Title 38 make it clear that Congress intended that VA benefits may be considered as a source of income for support purposes. Not only are there graduated benefit schedules, based on how many dependents a veteran has, but there is an apportionment procedure to use when a veteran is not discharging his or her responsibility for support. The apportionment procedures are found at 38 U.S.C. 5307.

6. Q. Is VA compensation tax-exempt? What about military retired pay? Who pays each to the veteran/retiree?

A. VA compensation is tax-exempt, while military retired pay is not. Military retired pay and Combat-Related Special Compensation are paid by the Department of Defense under Title 10, U.S. Code, while veterans’ benefits are paid by the Department of Veterans Affairs under Title 38.

7. Q. My husband isn’t paying me, and I need to get the court to order a garnishment. Can VA benefits be garnished for child support or alimony?

A. Yes, but only if the individual who is receiving VA benefits has waived military retired pay to obtain the VA payments.  This is set out in Title 42, U.S. Code, Section 659.

8. Q. Can VA benefits be considered as a source of income in awarding child support or alimony?

A. Yes. In Rose v. Rose (1987), the U.S. Supreme Court reviewed a contempt judgment against a veteran whose sole source of income was his VA disability compensation. He had refused to pay $800 a month in child support, claiming that he was constitutionally allowed to keep these VA benefits for himself. In an extensive review of the statutes and rules governing VA payments, the Court found that “these benefits are not provided to support appellant [the veteran] alone.” It went on to state that:

Veterans’ disability benefits compensate for impaired earning capacity, H. R. Rep. No. 96-1155, p.4 (1980), and are intended to “provide reasonable and adequate compensation for disabled veterans and their families.” S. Rep. No. 98-604, p.24 (1984) (emphasis added). Additional compensation for dependents of disabled veterans is available under 38 U. S. C. ‘ 315, and in this case totaled $90 per month for appellant’s two children. But the paucity of the benefits available under ’ 315 [now 38 U.S.C. 1115] belies any contention that Congress intended these amounts alone to provide for the support of the children of disabled veterans. Moreover, as evidenced by ‘ 3107(a)(2) [now found at 38 U.S.C. 5307], the provision for apportionment we have already discussed, Congress clearly intended veterans’ disability benefits to be used, in part, for
the support of veterans’ dependents.

The Court noted that “children may rightfully expect to derive support from a portion of their veteran parent’s disability benefits.” There can be no doubt that family support is one of the purposes for the VA payments given to a veteran. The provisions for dependents, found at 38 U.S.C. 1115, are:

Any veteran entitled to compensation at the rates provided in section 1114 of this title, and whose disability is rated not less than 30 percent, shall be entitled to additional compensation for dependents in the following monthly amounts:

(1) If and while rated totally disabled and— (A) has a spouse but no child, $150; (B) has a spouse and one or more children, $259 plus $75 for each child in excess of one; (C) has no spouse but one or more children, $101 plus $75 for each child in excess of one; (D) has a parent dependent upon such veteran for support, then, in addition to the above amounts, $120 for each parent so dependent; (E) notwithstanding the other provisions of this paragraph, the monthly payable amount on account of a spouse who is

(i) a patient in a nursing home or (ii) blind, or so nearly blind or significantly disabled as to need or require the regular aid and attendance of another person, shall be $286 for a totally disabled veteran and proportionate amounts for partially disabled veterans in accordance with paragraph

(2) of this section; and (F) notwithstanding the other provisions of this paragraph, the monthly amount payable on account of each child who has attained the age of eighteen years and who is pursuing a course of instruction at an approved educational institution shall be $240 for a totally disabled veteran and proportionate amounts for partially disabled veterans in accordance with paragraph (2) of this section.

9. Q. Are “activist” state judges forcing many disabled veterans going through a divorce to use their veteran’s disability compensation to pay alimony, or else face contempt charges and jail if they refuse?

A. The summary of Rose v. Rose above is one illustration of how a veteran tried to get out of paying child support and  found that every court which reviewed his case upheld the trial judge’s decision that he must support his family and obey  the court’s order, even though his only income was his VA payments. The same principle applies to alimony. There is no  justification in disobeying a judge whose ruling is based on the well recognized decision of the U.S. Supreme Court. If you refuse to pay as the judge ordered, you’ll very likely be punished by the court – and that is the way it should be for  those who violate the law or disobey court orders.

There’s no way that any reasonable person would consider the U.S. Supreme Court to be composed of “activist judges.” As to state courts… well, let’s take a look –

  • The Illinois Court of Appeals in 2005 held in In re Marriage of Wojcik that federal law does not preclude a state court from ordering a veteran to pay court-ordered family support obligations from disability benefits.
  • The Iowa Court of Appeals held in 1994 in In re Marriage of Anderson that “It is clear veterans benefits are not solely  for the benefit of the veteran, but for his family as well” in ordering the payment of alimony from the veteran’s sole  sources of income, disability payments and Supplemental Security Income. That court wrote that the U.S. Supreme Court in  Rose v. Rose “again and again in its opinion recognized family support as an important exception [to the anti-garnishment  rule for VA benefits] and further recognized family support as child support and alimony.”
  • The Supreme Court of Vermont in the 1987 Repash v. Repash decision stated that the VA statutes barring attachment of benefits did not apply in a spousal maintenance (alimony) case because a wife seeking support was not a creditor under the statute.
  • There are cases from Florida (Allen v. Allen, 1994), Mississippi (Steiner v. Steiner, 2001), Wisconsin (In re Marriage  of Weberg, 1990) and numerous other states which uphold the power of state courts to use VA benefits as a source of income  in determining family support.

The states (and the U.S. Supreme Court) are virtually unanimous in their rulings on this. It’s a real “stretcher” (in Mark Twain’s phrasing) to say that all of these courts are packed with “activist judges.”

10. Q. I’m afraid that the judge will tell me that the court cannot go directly to the VA and attach to a veteran’s disability compensation. Won’t the judge say that the VA cannot give it to anyone but the disabled veteran who earned the benefit in the first place?

A. It looks like some more myths have been making the rounds! A court can go directly to the VA to attach a veteran’s  disability compensation. This happens all the time when a good lawyer representing the support recipient reads the U.S.  Code – specifically 42 U.S. Code 659, which allows this procedure (the garnishment of VA payments) because the individual  has waived military retired pay to obtain VA benefits. The VA will give it to anyone to whom the court awards this money  when these circumstances are present.

11. Q. I’ve heard that most veterans cannot find representation, and attorneys turn a blind eye to them. The attorneys know that, if they represent the spouse, they can go after a veteran’s disability compensation in a divorce settlement, and their client will win the ability to pay them. Is that true?

A. Not at all. First of all, veterans and spouses have the same problems in finding representation. Divorce cases can be expensive when contested, especially if there are complex issues such as VA disability payments on the table. That costs money, and both husband and wife will need to find the funds to retain a lawyer or else gowithout representation. Lawyers  as a group are not “turning a blind eye” toward veterans or spouses.

Most intelligent attorneys know that VA benefits are “off-limits” as marital or community property upon divorce. These payments cannot be divided as marital assets in the divorce or property division hearing. What’s the sense in going after an asset which is exempt from division?

In addition, it’s difficult to find a good attorney who would get paid through the promise of future income. You cannot pay bills on promises. You can’t pay your office staff on the hope that, at some point in the future, the other side will be required to make payments of alimony or child support. Most lawyers would go broke very quickly if that were the way they did business.

12. Q. Is VA disability considered to be a ‘cash cow’ in the legal profession? In other words, your exspouse and her attorney are both getting a piece of your veteran’s benefits, and the judge lets it happen.

A. Not by a long shot! As was pointed out above, neither the former spouse nor the attorney can obtain a portion of VA benefits since they are exempt from distribution as marital or community property upon divorce. While VA benefits can be counted as income for support purposes, they cannot be garnished unless they are paid to a military retiree who has waived part of the pension to get these payments from the VA.

Whether the judge “lets it happen” depends on how the case is handled. If the judge has ruled as set out above, then he or she has acted properly and in accordance with federal and (probably) state law. If the judge has let an erroneous ruling “happen,” then the wronged party has the right to appeal that decision or ask the court for reconsideration of the ruling.

That’s no different from any other case or party – that’s what happens in court, and those are the rights of the parties who claim that the judge committed a reversible error in the hearing or trial. Judges sometimes make mistakes or issue incorrect rulings. When that happens, if the wronged party wants to “correct the judge,” then he or she will have to take  an appeal from the ruling.

13. Q. Is the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs the only person that can attach to a veteran’s benefits?

A. No – that’s wrong. This issue was litigated in Tennessee in the Rose case, and it went all the way up to the U.S.  Supreme Court. The Court’s ruling in 1987 was: a) the Department of Veterans Affairs has the power to apportion VA payments, b) that power can be exercised if the veteran is not discharging his or her responsibility for support, and c)  most importantly, that doesn’t preclude state court judges from granting family support awards based on solely the VA benefits received by a party in the lawsuit. In fact, 42 U.S.C. 659 makes it clear that courts may attach VA benefits through garnishment if the individual has waived military retired pay to receive VA payments.

14. Q. Is it true that these payments are “exempt from taxation… from the claim of creditors, and shall not be liable to attachment, levy or seizure by or under any legal or equitable process whatever, either before or after receipt by the beneficiary”?

A. Yes, except that you forgot the most important part of the statute – the phrase “except to the extent specifically authorized by law.” See the full quote below (with emphasis added):

Payments of benefits due or to become due under any law administered by the Secretary shall not be assignable except to the extent specifically authorized by law, and such payments made to, or on account of, a beneficiary shall be exempt from taxation, shall be exempt from the claim of creditors, and shall not be liable to attachment, levy, or seizure by or under any legal or equitable process whatever, either before or after receipt by the beneficiary.

15. Q. Why does the VA claim that it’s not a law enforcement agency, and thus cannot enforce Title 38 in divorce courts?

A. That’s because –

a) It’s not a law enforcement agency. It’s not the Department of Justice, the FBI, the Secret Service or the BATFE (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives). It’s just the Department of Veterans Affairs!

It does not have the authority given by Congress, nor the manpower (even if it had the statutory authority) to go into court to intervene whenever a divorce court was considering VA payments in a case involving family support or garnishment. Nobody has that kind of unlimited personnel budget!

16. Q. But I’ve contacted several members of Congress, only to be told that they do not get involved in civil matters, nor do they interfere with the legal process in state family courts.

A. That’s right. They don’t. No one – not even state court judges – wants to get involve in messy divorce cases in the courts. Members of Congress have no authority to intervene or to tell judges how to act in these cases. It would be highly unprofessional and certainly illegal for “outside influence” to descend on a state divorce court and push the determination of a certain outcome. This is why we pride ourselves on an independent system of courts and neutral, objective judges – ones who cannot be “gotten to” by those outside the judicial process. Neither the Department of Veterans Affairs nor the members of the Senate and House have any business sticking their noses inside a courtroom or
telling a judge what to do.

17. Q. My husband beat me at every turn in my divorce. Is it true, as I was told by several lawyers, that judges cannot be held legally liable for their decisions, and therefore there is no violation of law?

A. No, not at all. Judges are held responsible for their decisions through the process of “appellate review.” This is an appeal to a higher court when a party believes she or he has been wronged because a judge at trial committed a prejudicial error. The higher court can correct the error.

18. Q. I need help fast! My ex-husband got VA disability, and now my share of the pension just dropped by several hundred dollars. I can’t pay my light bill or my rent. Is he allowed to do that – change the judge’s order without getting court permission?

A. In most states, NO. Courts in many states have rules that require reimbursement for the former spouse when the veteran,  without consent or court approval, takes VA disability and this decreases the share of the military pension which the former spouse gets. In addition, in some cases the parties have agreed in their property settlement that neither one will take any action which reduces the assets payable to the other side, and that reimbursement is required if this is done.

Finally, there are even cases where the court has ordered division of the VA disability payments and this has been upheld on appeal.

19. Q. That can’t be true! I’ve read the 1989 Mansell decision in the U.S. Supreme Court. It bars the division of VA disability pay upon divorce when the retiree applies for VA benefits and gets them, reducing his disposable retired pay.

A. Correct. But when the case went back to California upon remand, the courts there decided that the Supreme Court had misinterpreted the California rulings, and the disability pay was ordered (again) to be divided. When Major Mansell appealed a second time, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review the case. So, as of today, he is required to divide his VA disability payments with his ex-wife.

20. Q. My ex-husband says he doesn’t have enough money to reimburse me, now that he’s taken VA disability pay and that reduced my share of the pension. Is that true?

A. Not by a long shot. All the VA money is tax-free, so he’ll have even more money in the end by waiving a piece of the pension. Let’s take an example: Suppose John’s total retired pay is $1,600 and the court awards Mary, his former wife, 50%, or $800. Then John obtains a VA disability rating (less than 50%) and elects to receive VA disability compensation, which equals $600. This means that he waives $600 of the pension to receive VA payments. Now the DFAS payment to Mary is only $500 a month instead of $800 (that is, 50% of $1,000 instead of $1,600). She’s short by $300 due to the actions of John in applying for VA payments.

John’s income is now $500 from the pension and $600 from VA. If he’s paying taxes at 20% federal, 5% state, then he’s receiving net: $375 from the pension and $600 (no taxes) from VA, for a total of $975, while Mary (if she’s in the same brackets) will only be getting $375 a month.

If John were to reimburse Mary, then he’d pay to her the missing $300 each month, which is deductible for him and only costs him $225 in his tax brackets. Thus he still has $750 after taxes, whereas before the VA waiver, he was receiving $800 taxable each month, or $600 after-tax income! And Mary has the full amount ($600 taxable) which the court initially ordered.

21. Q. If I have other questions, what should I do?

A. See a military legal assistance attorney or private attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer can answer many questions and help you to make a fair and intelligent decision about your choices, options and alternatives.  Our legal assistance office stands ready, willing and able to help you in these matters. Be sure to bring along with you to the interview a copy of any documents or court papers that might be helpful to your attorney.

Location and hours of your Legal Assistance Office: ______________________________________

Information on local agencies, offices and resources: ______________________________________

[rev. 3/2011]

* * * THE LEGAL EAGLE SERIES OF CLIENT HANDOUTS IS PREPARED BY MARK E. SULLIVAN, A MEMBER OF THE MILITARY COMMITTEE, ABA FAMILY LAW SECTION, AND AUTHOR OF THE MILITARY DIVORCE HANDBOOK (AM. BAR ASSN. 2006). COMMENTS AND SUGGESTIONS SHOULD BE SENT TO HIM AT: 2626 GLENWOOD AVE., #195, RALEIGH, N.C. 27608 [919-832-8507]; E-MAIL— MARK.SULLIVAN@NCFAMILYLAW.

Where do the taxes I pay go?

posted Jan 8, 2012, 6:19 PM by Neslo Ventures   [ updated Jan 8, 2012, 6:19 PM ]

Do you know where all those taxes you pay goes?  Click on the image below and find out.

Disability Payments to Former Spouse?

posted Aug 21, 2011, 3:27 PM by Info @NesloVentures   [ updated Aug 21, 2011, 3:30 PM by Neslo Ventures ]

Sgt. Shaft | August 09, 2011
Courtesy of Military.com

Dear Sgt Shaft:

I am in the middle of a divorce after 18 years of marriage. I receive service-connected disability from the VA from when I was in the Army. My wife and I were not married when I was in the service or when I started to receive my disability payments. I am now 100 percent disabled and unable to work. My wife has been working full time for the same company for the last 16 years.

In the divorce, she is asking to receive half of my disability payments for maintenance. Is there any federal law that states my disability cannot be used for maintenance?

I have a brother who served 23 years in the Marines and was married for the last 17 years of his enlistment. When he divorced last year, his wife was given a portion of his pension but was told she is not entitled to any of his disability payments. I would appreciate any help you can give me.

Thank you,
Gary P.
Via the Internet

Dear Gary,

There are currently no provisions for payment of any portion of a veteran's service-connected disability compensation to or on behalf of a divorced spouse except in limited circumstances involving military retirees. 38 USC 5301(a) exempts VA disability compensation from taxation, claims of creditors, attachment, levy or seizure, by or under any legal or equitable process.

However, in the case of military retirees who waive retired pay in lieu of VA compensation, the amount of VA compensation that is received is subject to garnishment for court-ordered child support or, in some cases, alimony. Only the amount of compensation equal to the waived retired pay is subject to this garnishment. Such garnishments are handled jointly by the VA Regional Office and the appropriate VA Office of Regional Counsel. If there were any minor or dependent children of the veteran in the custody of a divorced spouse, an apportionment of VA disability compensation could be awarded to the custodial parent for support of the veterans child or children.

Individuals can file a claim for an apportionment by filling out VA Form 21-0788, which can be found at http://www.vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/VBA-21-0788-ARE.pdf.

Military Benefits at Risk

posted Jun 11, 2011, 4:47 PM by Info @NesloVentures   [ updated Jun 11, 2011, 5:09 PM by Neslo Ventures ]

Friday, June 10th, 2011 | Posted by Ed Mattson Veterans Today

Letter in Support of Military Pay and Benefit Program

by Ed Mattson

As we are seeing in business and government in America, the US military is also burdened with the soaring cost of health care. “It’s just not sustainable,” said Admiral. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He went on to say that military pay and benefits “were on the table”. “

Let me get this straight…We have millions of people on the government dole (a.k.a. welfare recipients), and the bureaucrats wouldn’t dream of making cuts to the welfare rolls and social safety net, despite the fraud and abuse that is rampant throughout the system.

When was the last time you heard of a welfare recipient having to pass a drug test in order to receive his/her welfare check?

Those with their hands out almost always vote Democrat. Once they get their place at the trough they keep asking for more, and who better to oblige than the Democrats in Congress.  The majority of those receiving benefits don’t even bother looking for work or worse yet, work for cash under the table.  Cutting out the waste and fraud in welfare is a great place to start cutting the budget, but President Obama and the Democrats keep the benefits flowing. The federal government currently runs over 70 major interrelated, welfare programs, through six different federal agencies.  State governments also contribute to many federal programs.

Total federal and state spending on welfare programs was $434 billion in 2000. Of that total, $313 billion (72 percent) came from federal funding and $121 billion (28 percent) came from state or local funds. It’s a lot more today. That boils down to about $5600 in taxes per family!

In the next few articles we will discuss ways for the government to make sensible budget cuts (including the military), butthose in the military can barely get buy under the current pay scale. So we had better batten down the hatches and start writing our representatives if we want to save the benefits for which we served.

Admiral Mike Mullen awarding the Silver Star to Capt. Gregory Ambrosia

Here’s what all veterans can do:

FIRST: Send each of your Senators (2 in every state) a letter like I sent yesterday to my representatives (see-below and please feel free to cut and paste it to develop your letter) – To get your Senator’s contact info CLICK HERE

SECOND: Get your full 9-digit zip code by clicking HERE. You’ll need that to determine your Congressional District.

THIRD: Locate the Congressperson for your district by going to the HOUSE WEBSITE. Simply enter your city, state, and 9-digit zip code and then click SUBMIT. When I first tried it, the website delivered and error message, so I had to go to my Congressman’s website and click the Contact Link

Dear Senator ***,

I am writing in support of military benefits, including the medical benefits for veterans and their families. I realize the country is under severe financial strain, but please don’t blame the military or our families. We did our duty…we went when others wouldn’t and did what others couldn’t, while the Executive and Legislative Branches of our government squandered our national treasures by providing benefits to those who won’t work, and pipe-dream programs to insure their re-electability.

Today, after spending us into oblivion, there is talk about cutting the benefits and lowering the pay for those who insure our nation’s freedom. As Calvin Coolidge so eloquently put it:

“The nation which forgets its defenders will be itself forgotten.”

Over the decades we have seen trillions of dollars poured into social programs that don’t work; bureaucratic malfeasance with the housing debacle which lead to this current recession; and unjustifiable expenditures like the Department of Energy, which was created in 1977 to solve our nation’s dependence on imported energy. We imported 25% of our energy back then, but today with 16,000 employees and a budget of $26 billion, we are importing nearly 60% of our nation’s needs…and they want an additional $3 billion for 2012’s budget.

There are more than 22 million employees on the federal payroll, and the military is the lowest paid of the lot. Only about 20%  of government employees hold critical jobs, so how about freezing employment and let attrition take its toll until you get federal employment down to a reasonable number (about half). Your budget would then be on the road to recovery.

Sincerely,

Your Name

This is the only thing politicians understand as each letter they receive amounts to about 320 votes at the next election. If you want to defend what we earned, this is the first place to start.

Florida Attorney Claims All Military Veterans Subject to Spousal Abuse and Domestic Violence

posted May 29, 2011, 1:25 PM by Info @NesloVentures   [ updated May 29, 2011, 1:34 PM by Neslo Ventures ]

This story is about protecting the Veteran's benefits.

by Jere Beery

In early October of last year a team from Operation Firing For Effect (OFFE) traveled to Key West Florida to assist Retired U.S. Army veteran Ernest Pridemore in his divorce hearing. Unable to locate an attorney willing to fight to protect his veteran’s benefits, Pridemore was forced to represent himself. The OFFE team was there to help him prepare his case in an effort to protect his veteran’s disability compensation from being used as a divisible asset in his divorce.

Protection of veteran’s disability benefits in divorce cases has become a hot topic over the past few years. Many divorce court judges wrongfully calculate veteran’s disability compensation as ‘income’ and award alimony and support based on this veterans benefit. Federal law prohibits such attachment under any legal process whatsoever, however most state judges ignore this Federal protection and abuse these benefits in their rulings. This has resulted in great hardship among our disabled veterans and created situations where the disabled and ill veteran can no longer afford to care for themselves. In many of these cases the veteran becomes homeless and even suicidal. 

Even though Mr. Pridemore did an excellent job of representing himself, and in spite of testimony provided by 3 OFFE representatives, Judge Mark Jones ruled in his ex-wife’s favor. Although the Pridemore’s were not married at the time of Mr. Pridemore’s military service, Judge Jones awarded Mrs. Pridemore half of Mr. Pridemore’s military retirement, half of his VA disability, and half of his Social Security Disability. Ernest Pridemore is appealing his case. 

The primary objective of the OFFE team was to provide documentation and testimony concerning the protection of veteran’s disability compensation as stipulated by USC, Title 38. However, statements made by the opposing attorney in open court alerted the OFFE team to an entirely different aspect to the issue. 

Attorney David L. Manz of Marathon, Florida represented Mrs. Pridemore. At one point during the 3 day hearing Mr. Manz complained to the judge that he and his client were intimidated by the military uniforms in the court room. At another point in the hearing, in support of a restraining order which had been placed on Mr. Pridemore by Mrs. Pridemore, Manz implied that all military veterans were subject to spousal abuse and domestic violence by virtue of their military training, which aggressively teaches them to kill and destroy. Civil Court Judge Mark Jones did not strike Manz’s statement and it was allowed into the hearing transcript.

This anti-military statement by attorney Manz is apparently nothing new in such cases. OFFE has received dozens of complaints from active duty personnel and veterans.  Every day in courtrooms nationwide military veterans and active duty personnel are having their service in the United States Armed Forces used against them in legal proceedings. OFFE is monitoring several cases where this underhanded tactic has been successfully used in divorce settlements and child custody cases. Veterans and military personnel are losing custody and parental rights based on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) ratings and overseas deployment obligations. 

Operation Firing For Effect

From left to right: Jere Beery, Calvin Murphy, Charles Hair, Paul Cousins, Ernest Pridmore, Gene Simes, Simon Alvarado,

The twisted logic behind these unjust court rulings is; a PTSD diagnosis implies emotional instability and irrational behavior, and an extended tour of duty overseas indicates a lack of contact and involvement with one’s child or children. Both of these strategies are being used against military persons from winning custody or even visitation with their child or children. In fact, in a few cases where a parent ‘voluntarily’ and ‘willingly’ joined the military after the birth of a child, they are being accused of intentional abandonment. All of these factors can be used against veterans and military personnel (male or female) who are going through a divorce and who are seeking custody of their child or children.

Divorce court judges are even awarding alimony and support based on the possibility that a veteran will receive disability compensation in the future. In other words, before a disabled veteran receives a disability rating and compensation, their ex-spouse has been awarded half of this money. This strategy used by divorce attorneys reaches an all time low and only proves that divorce lawyers will sink to any despicable level to win a case for their client. After all, the more money they win for their client, the more money their client will have to pay them with. Attorneys have a vested interest in attacking a person’s military service and disability benefits.

This issue is at the heart of a Rally taking place at the Texas State Capitol in Austin on July 5th of this year. The Rally “Operation Protect Our Veterans and Their Children” is supported by OFFE and is spearheaded by rally coordinator Julie Harris. Mrs. Harris is an OFFE Director of Operations for the state of Texas. For more information on the Texas Rally, contact Julie Harris at; opovac@yahoo,com, or call Gene Simes at (585)986-7322. Remember; If you do nothing you can expect nothing to change.

The Reality of Bad Credit and VA Loans

posted May 10, 2011, 7:07 PM by Info @NesloVentures   [ updated May 10, 2011, 7:09 PM by Neslo Ventures ]

There is no minimum credit score requirement in the VA qualifying guidelines, yet VA lenders have the flexibility to decline a home loan due to a low score or other credit factors. Therefore, it is imperative that potential borrowers understand the reality of bad credit and educate themselves on ways to improve their credit for future homeownership.
...when a potential VA borrower has bad credit or even a bankruptcy in his or her history it can sometimes prevent qualification...

It’s true, qualifying standards for VA loans are slightly more relaxed than those of conventional and other types of loan programs.  But, when a potential VA borrower has bad credit or even a bankruptcy in his or her history it can sometimes prevent qualification for a VA home loan.

The VA recommends that lenders consider a combination of qualifying requirements when approving VA mortgages.  Debt-to-income ratios, residual incomes and loan histories, as well as complete credit histories and FICO scores are usually weighed before approving or declining someone for a VA loan. 

Even though the VA does not publish a minimum credit score in its lender guidelines, individual VA-approved lenders may have their own additional credit score requirements.  Veterans Affairs gives VA-approved lenders the flexibility to determine whether a VA-eligible borrower is or is not a satisfactory credit risk. 

When a VA borrower’s current credit situation is preventing the approval of a VA home loan, then the VA home loan professional can offer a few suggestions, based on experience, that may help the borrower turn bad credit around.  It is possible that some borrowers who are willing to repair their damaged credit scores after being declined for VA underwriting may eventually qualify for a VA mortgage.

If the borrower’s bad credit is the result of a bankruptcy, this can also affect the ability to get a VA loan.  A potential VA borrower with Chapter 7 bankruptcy may be able to qualify for a VA loan in as little as two years after the discharge date of the bankruptcy.  And, a potential VA borrower who has filed for and obtained relief under Chapter 13, and is still paying off the debt according to the approved Plan, may not have to wait as long as someone in Chapter 7 might to be considered for a VA home loan as long as he or she has made 12 months of consistent court-verified payments.  Additionally, the court trustee must give written permission to proceed with a loan.

Applicants from VA borrowers with bad credit or bankruptcy histories are considered for VA-backed loans on a case-by-case basis. 

Military members who want to know more about qualifying for VA home loans should contact a VA-approved specialty lender. 

House Proposal Gives Troops 1.6 Percent Pay Hike

posted May 4, 2011, 5:58 AM by Info @NesloVentures   [ updated May 4, 2011, 6:04 AM by Neslo Ventures ]

Courtesy of  Stars and Stripes May 04, 2011

WASHINGTON -- Troops would receive a 1.6 percent pay raise in January and Tricare fees for veterans would be held steady under a defense budget plan released by House lawmakers on Tuesday.

The pay raise is slightly above this year’s 1.4 percent boost but roughly half of the typical increases service-members received during the last decade. If approved, the increase would mean about $40 more a month for an E-4 with six years' service and about $90 for an O-4 with six years.

President Obama proposed a 1.6 percent raise in his defense budget outline in February, but in past years lawmakers have offered pay hikes larger than the White House proposals. The figure is tied to the projected rate of increase in civilian pay.

Civilian government employees are in the middle of a two-year pay freeze instituted by Obama late last year.

The full budget plan, which will be voted on by the House Armed Services Committee next week, also prohibits Tricare Prime fee increases for one year, which would scuttle Defense Department plans to hike enrollment prices for working-age retirees by 13 percent as early as this fall.

Pentagon officials have pushed for the Tricare fee increases for several years, saying that rising health care costs threaten to overwhelm the defense budget. But veterans groups have opposed those plans, and lawmakers in the House and Senate have shelved the plans each year.

Lawmakers have also inserted language requiring Pentagon officials to better track dwell time, to ensure all troops receive appropriate time at home between deployments. It would also make mental health assessments available for members of the reserve components during training sessions, and expand legal council options for sexual assault victims.

In a statement, military personnel subcommittee chairman Joe Wilson, R-S.C., said the proposals ensure that “our men and women in uniform, their families, and veterans are adequately compensated for their selfless sacrifice and dedication to our great nation.”

Subcommittees are expected to debate portions of the defense budget this week, and the full committee is expected to pass its version of the fiscal 2012 budget by May 13. No timetable has been set for a full House vote on the measure, or when the Senate will begin its defense budget discussions.

Veteran Mortgages: The Reality of Bad Credit and VA Loans

posted Apr 4, 2011, 9:51 AM by Info @NesloVentures   [ updated Apr 4, 2011, 10:00 AM by Neslo Ventures ]

Courtesy of Military.com

There is no minimum credit score requirement in the VA qualifying guidelines, yet VA lenders have the flexibility to decline a home loan due to a low score or other credit factors. Therefore, it is imperative that potential borrowers understand the reality of bad credit and educate themselves on ways to improve their credit for future home ownership.

...when a potential VA borrower has bad credit or even a bankruptcy in his or her history it can sometimes prevent qualification...

It’s true, qualifying standards for VA loans are slightly more relaxed than those of conventional and other types of loan programs.  But, when a potential VA borrower has bad credit or even a bankruptcy in his or her history it can sometimes prevent qualification for a VA home loan.

The VA recommends that lenders consider a combination of qualifying requirements when approving VA mortgages.  Debt-to-income ratios, residual incomes and loan histories, as well as complete credit histories and FICO scores are usually weighed before approving or declining someone for a VA loan. 

Even though the VA does not publish a minimum credit score in its lender guidelines, individual VA-approved lenders may have their own additional credit score requirements.  Veterans Affairs gives VA-approved lenders the flexibility to determine whether a VA-eligible borrower is or is not a satisfactory credit risk. 

When a VA borrower’s current credit situation is preventing the approval of a VA home loan, then the VA home loan professional can offer a few suggestions, based on experience, that may help the borrower turn bad credit around.  It is possible that some borrowers who are willing to repair their damaged credit scores after being declined for VA underwriting may eventually qualify for a VA mortgage.

If the borrower’s bad credit is the result of a bankruptcy, this can also affect the ability to get a VA loan.  A potential VA borrower with Chapter 7 bankruptcy may be able to qualify for a VA loan in as little as two years after the discharge date of the bankruptcy.  And, a potential VA borrower who has filed for and obtained relief under Chapter 13, and is still paying off the debt according to the approved Plan, may not have to wait as long as someone in Chapter 7 might to be considered for a VA home loan as long as he or she has made 12 months of consistent court-verified payments.  Additionally, the court trustee must give written permission to proceed with a loan.

Applicants from VA borrowers with bad credit or bankruptcy histories are considered for VA-backed loans on a case-by-case basis. 

Military members who want to know more about qualifying for VA home loans should contact a VA-approved specialty lender. 

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