Sen. Lawrence bill to boost veteran retirement benefits passes Senate with unanimous support

Posted: May 24, 2021 | Senator Lawrence

AUGUSTA — On Wednesday, a bill from Sen. Mark Lawrence, D-Eliot, was passed by the Maine Senate with a unanimous, bipartisan vote. The bill, LD 956, “An Act To Amend the Eligibility Criteria for Creditable Service in the Armed Forces of the United States under the State Retirement System,” would allow veterans who served in the 1980s to have the option to buy in to a program to increase their retirement benefits.

“LD 956 would rectify the decades-long loophole where veterans who served in Lebanon and Grenada in the early 1980s could not qualify for the retirement benefits they rightly deserve,” said Sen. Lawrence. “Despite these operations being considered peacetime war efforts, these service members still saw conflict and some perished in the line of duty. I am grateful for my colleagues’ support.”

This bill would allow veterans who served in Lebanon from Aug. 21, 1982, to Feb. 26, 1984, and in Grenada from Oct. 25 to Dec. 15, 1983, to qualify for state retirement benefits during this period. With this acknowledgement of service, veterans who served during these operations could purchase military service credit to ultimately increase their retirement benefits.

The late Rep. Ann Peoples, D-Westbrook, sponsored a similar bill during the 129th Legislature (LD 467) that passed in the House and Senate, but died due to the early conclusion of session because of COVID-19. This updated bill would reduce the fiscal note from the previous version of the bill. Sen. Lawrence worked closely with war veteran Arty Ledoux of Westbrook, who served in the Marine Corps between 1980 and 1989, and Rep. Suzanne Salisbury, D-Westbrook.

LD 956 faces further votes in the Legislature.