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Financial Affairs -- Question & Answer Listing  
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Question / Answer

Question:
What financial information should I obtain from my Soldier prior to his/her deployment?

Answer:
There are a number of financial issues to discuss with your Soldier before he/she deploys. Make sure you are aware of all your financial obligations and ensure that they are covered during the deployment. Prepare a family budget that includes spending money for incidentals that the Soldier will need as well as adequate finances to support you and your family (if applicable) while your Soldier is deployed. Make sure you have access to financial documents and signature authority to make deposits and withdrawals in the appropriate accounts needed. Your Financial Readiness Program counselor can provide you with a financial checklist to assist you with your personal affairs and help you set up a family budget.

Question:
What is an Explanation of Benefits (EOB)?

Answer:
The Explanation of Benefits, or EOB, is the statement you receive after you file a claim with TRICARE or a claim has been filed on your behalf by the doctor. This statement is a summary of the action taken on your claim—how much of the bill was paid by TRICARE and how much is your responsibility to pay (you may already have paid that portion at the time of service). The EOP is not a bill. If you are required to pay for a portion of the services rendered, you will receive a separate statement.

Question:
What is mean to "buy back" time or "estimated earnings" in terms of crediting my military service time toward my civil service retirement?

Answer:
Former military members can have their service time considered for their civil service retirement by "buying back" that time. Your "estimated earnings" is used to determine the cost of "buying back" that time. There are a number of rules and circumstances that may apply to your specific situation. For example, a retired officer who has qualified for a "second" retirement from civil service may receive total federal retirement by either of two methods. The first method involves the waiver of military retired pay and receipt of credit for active military service in the computation of the civil service retirement annuity. (Note that only active military service may be counted for this purpose, even though inactive service may have been used in computing retired pay.) The second method involves receipt of two separate retirement payments based on the two separate periods of federal service (military and civil service). The retired officer chooses whichever method best works to his/her advantage. For non-retired members, full credit for uniformed service (including active duty and active duty for training) performed under honorable conditions is given for leave accrual purposes, and for retirement purposes provided a deposit, as required by law, is made to the retirement fund. Non-retired veterans first employed in a position covered by the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) on or after October 1, 1982, or in a position covered by the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) on or after January 1, 1984, must make a deposit to the retirement fund of 7 percent (for CSRS) or 3 percent (for FERS) of basic military pay to obtain retirement credit. Non-retired veterans employed in civil service positions before October 1, 1982, have the option of either making a deposit to cover their military service or having their civil service annuity recomputed to delete post-1956 military service if they are eligible for social security at age 62.

Question:
What is the difference between State Income Tax Withholding Allowance (SITWA) and Federal Income Tax Withholding Allowance (FITWA)?

Answer:
State Income Tax Withholding Allowance (SITWA) is a percentage of your salary that is withheld and sent to your state of residence tax office. The Federal Income Tax Withholding Allowance (FITWA) refers to the portion of your pay that is goes to the Federal Government.

Question:
What is the difference between whole and term life insurance?

Answer:
Term insurance is designed to meet temporary needs and provides protection for a specific period of time, generally paying a benefit only if you die during that period of time. Term insurance is used to provide coverage of expenses that will disappear at a specific time. For example, you may only need coverage until your children graduate college or until your mortgage is paid off. Whole-Life (or permanent) insurance provides lifelong protection. The full-face amount of the policy is paid upon the insured individual’s death. Permanent life insurance accumulates cash on a tax-deferred basis, and that value can be used to supplement your retirement income or help provide for a child's education.

Question:
What type of Social Security benefits are there and how do I apply for them?

Answer:
There are several different types of Social Security benefits such as Social Security Disability, Retirement and Medicare, and Survivors benefits. To apply for Social Security Retirement benefits you must be at least 61 years and 9 months old and plan to start Social Security benefits within the next 4 months. Other restrictions may apply. A person who meets all other requirements for entitlement can receive benefits beginning with the first full month he/she is age 62. Note that if benefits begin before age 65, they are reduced to account for the longer period over which they will be paid. You can apply for Social Security benefits online or in person at the nearest Social Security Office. When you apply for benefits, you will need the following information: your Social Security number; your birth certificate; your W-2 forms or self-employment tax return for last year; your military discharge papers if you had military service; your spouse's birth certificate and Social Security number if he or she is applying for benefits; children's birth certificates and Social Security numbers, if applying for children's benefits; proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status if you (or a spouse or child is applying for benefits) were not born in the U.S.; and the name of your bank and your account number so your benefits can be directly deposited into your account. Original documents or copies certified by the issuing office must be submitted.

Question:
Where can I cash a check when I relocate and my personal bank account is in another state?

Answer:
You can cash personal checks at your local AAFES facility and usually the Military Finance Office up to a certain amount. There are often checking cashing businesses that will allow you to cash personal checks, but they will often charge you a fee for doing so. You can also use Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) cards at banks other than your own to obtain money from your own bank account. However, you may incur a service charge for doing so. Many service members set up a local savings account to allow them to cash checks locally and maintain their main bank account elsewhere. Banking preferences is a personal choice, but there are many options available.

Question:
Where can I find financial assistance if funds are not available to support my family while my spouse is deployed?

Answer:
The Family Assistance Center (FAC) supporting you during your Soldier's deployment may be able to provide some assistance in securing emergency funds through the Army Emergency Relief program. FAC personnel, in conjunction with the Rear Detachment Commander (RDC), may be able to provide other resources to assist you and your family.
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