Thanks to the PACT and RAISE Acts of 2022, the VA has new recruitment tools and so far, at least – they seem to be working.
The Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) is gearing up for some dramatic growth. The recently passed PACT Act authorized over thirty new VA facilities to be built as the law made over a million veterans eligible for VA care. To help care for this anticipated uptick in veterans seeking medical help, the agency is going to need more than just additional hospitals to handle the increased workload, they’re going to need a lot more employees.
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Luckily, Congress equipped the agency with recruitment and retention tools. The PACT Act, or the “Honouring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics” Act made the following improvements to VA employee benefits:
- An expedited hiring process was created for recent graduates.
- Without an OPM waiver needed, the hiring bonus cap was raised from a $10,000 limit to $25,000.
- The maximum amount of relocation incentives was lifted to 50% of an employees salary. This was also changed to be paid out as a one-time lump-sum.
- Premium pay caps similarly increased from 30% of an employee’s base pay to 50%.
- The maximum amount of student loans eligible for the VA’s repayment program increased from $60,000 to $100,000 of student debt. (Employees have to reach three years of service before they are eligible for the repayment program. On a similar note, the VA helped 26,000 of its employees sign-up for the Public Student Loan Forgiveness waiver in 2022.)
Early Signs of Progress
From October of last year to September of this year, the amount of filled register nurse positions went up by a net amount of 2042. Although the PACT Act was just passed a few months ago, the Retention and Income Security Enhancement (RAISE) Act became law in March, and helped boost the pay of around 10,000 VA nurses. The legislation effectively increased the salary cap for nurses to $203,000 per year. This in turn gave an immediate pay raise to all the eligible employees either at, or within the 10% range of, the previous pay ceiling.
Until Next Time,
**Written by Benjamin Derge, Financial Planner, ChFEBC℠ The information has been obtained from sources considered reliable but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Any opinions are those of Benjamin Derge and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James. Links are being provided for information purposes only. Expressions of opinion are as of this date and are subject to change without notice. Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse, authorize, or sponsor any of the listed websites or their respective sponsors.