139th News

Coping with Financial Issues of COVID-19 - Part 18

  • Published
  • By Randy Gerard, Personal Financial Counselor

I am finishing up my second “Pony Week” and continuing Zoom sessions this week with the topic for next Thursday’s brief being “Blended Retirement System: Review, Continuation Pay and Lump Sum Options”. This will apply to anyone who opted into the BRS by the end of 2018 or that is a new accession since January 1, 2019. The briefs are always from 1pm - 2pm on Thursdays and are always followed by a Q&A session from 2pm - 3pm. Remember Zoom requires different meeting IDs/PW combinations and yet a different combo if you just dial in. Hope you find value in the following.


I. FSSA:  Family Subsistence Supplemental Amount, was established to augment service members’ income to a high enough level so that the member's family doesn't need to get USDA benefits under the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) program. FSSA, payable to any officer or enlisted member, who meets all of the following four criteria:

  • The member is on active duty and receiving BAS.
  • Has a gross household income that would make them SNAP-eligible for a given household size.
  • At least one member in the household is a military dependent.
  • Has made an application to the appropriate office and been certified at a given pay level.
  • The monthly benefit cannot exceed $1,100, or 130% of the USDA established poverty level. If the member is already receiving SNAP payments the FSSA entitlement will be the higher of the calculated amount or SNAP. For other clarifications and more information go to http://www.dmdc.osd.mil/fssa/.

II. CARES Act “2”:  The $64,000 question (or actually another possible 2-3 trillion dollars!) is: “Will there be a second one and soon enough to save the economy?" The conflicting proposals follow party lines-one side wanting to almost replicate the first one with little control and the other presenting a potentially smaller one with some incentives to return to work. Current readings suggest that a passed piece of legislation may include some of these features, and keeping most of the first versions benefits such as extension of unemployment, PPP and stimulus checks:

  • Reduction of payroll taxes (7.65% for employed individuals, 15.3% for self-employed
  • Inclusion of privately funded student loans (suspend interest and pause payments)

III. Financial “Potpourri”:  In addition to assisting with any COVID-related issues, I wanted to make sure and remind everyone about other topics that may be of interest or concern related to personal finances. Take a look at these and let me know if I can provide a second opinion or be of initial help:

  • Credit Scores/Reports – Using my educator code I can get all three official FICO scores for you (and your spouse) usually in one setting. Under COVID the restrictions on frequency have been relaxed and it is very timely to confirm your credit rating and correct any issues.
  • Retirement Planning – Get the most out of your retirement funding using your employer provided plans (TSP, 401k, 403b, 457, etc.) as well as individual IRAs, annuities, investment accounts, etc.
  • Tax Planning – Short of giving tax advice, I can help decipher some of the forms, strategies and processes as you try to minimize your federal and state liabilities.
  • Insurance Analysis – Don’t be “over-premiumed”, over-insured or under-insured with your life, car, home, etc.
  • Debt management – Get out from under a burdensome debt load using a modified “snowball” approach, PowerPay, Dave Ramsey’s EveryDollar Budget Tool or others.
  • College Funding/Student Loans – Whether you’re planning for future students or paying off funding for a past student, I can help with maximizing your strategies.
  • Estate Planning – Especially for those with a family, take the time to set up an efficient, flexible but thorough plan to protect yourself and your heirs.

If any of this or prior weeks’ information is unclear or confusing, give me a call so we can discuss your personal situation.

Don’t hesitate to reach out by phone, email or ask for a private Zoom session for you or your family members. Be Vigilant and STAY SAFE!

Randy Gerard, PFC
C (573) 415-6934
O (816) 236-3659

This week’s thought: “If you’re always hitting your target, it’s probably too close or too big.” ~Jeff Salz (motivational speaker)