Bipartisan bill to expand military pension credit program agreed to by governor

ALBANY – State Senator William Larkin, an Orange County Republican, and Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, a Westchester Democrat, who are sponsors of legislation to expand the military pension credit program, have reached agreement with Governor Andrew Cuomo to advance the legislation during the next state budget. The current 2015-2016 budget expires next March 31.

Under the planned amendment, up to three years of additional public pension credit would be provided for an expanded pool of eligible state and local employees who served in the military.

Current law allows active members of the public retirement systems to purchase service credit for up to three years of military service if the member was honorably discharged, has five years of existing public pension credit, and served during World War II, the Korean War, or the Vietnam Era; or received an Armed Forces, Navy or Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal in connection with service in Lebanon, Grenada, or Panama; or served during theatre operations in Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Oman, the Gulf of Aden, the Gulf of Oman, the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea and the airspace above those locations.

The new legislation to be introduced will balance the needs of the state’s deserving vets with the state’s larger fiscal goals, the officials said.

The proposal will expand the pool of eligible veterans that were no previously covered by law and will also remove restrictions that prevented women from being eligible for the additional pension credit because of prior military policy that barred women from being deployed to a military conflict. The military ended its policy against women being deployed to combat in 2013.

“I look forward to continue working with my colleagues to ensure that all of New York’s veterans are treated equitably under the law,” said Larkin.

“Veterans who served our country deserve our ultimate respect and thanks, and the veterans who served in these conflicts have been unfairly excluded from purchasing pension credit for far too long,” said Paulin. “I am especially pleased that women veterans who have been disproportionately excluded, will finally be able to obtain the benefits they are entitled to.”

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