Participants of the Military Family Financial Readiness Coalition (MFFRC) recently gathered for their quarterly meeting to discuss the most pressing needs of military and veteran families around the issues of financial health and readiness. The strength of this gathering is the ability to hear from so many organizations with a vested interested in military families’ financial wellbeing, and particular topics rose to the top of discussion.
The MFFRC, founded and convened by MFAN, brings together stakeholders from the government, public, and private sectors with a vested interest in the financial wellbeing of military families. Together, participants share ideas, lessons learned, best practices, challenges, and opportunities to more effectively serve our families and respond to their evolving needs. In addition to informing the work of its participants in their financial education efforts and initiatives, the MFFRC also yields actionable information that educates and informs policy makers.
With 44 participants representing 31 different groups/organizations, there was lots of information covered. Here are three key takeaways.
Employment, already a challenge for military families, is further impacted by COVID-19. Many military spouses have reported losing their jobs as businesses have had to make difficult decisions about scaling down their operations or closing their doors entirely. Schools continue to operate virtually in many places and child care options are limited, which means that military spouses now face additional challenges working or looking for work while also caring for children and managing their education.
And National Guard members — still expected to be mission-ready and report for everything from natural disasters to COVID-19 testing and immunization programs to security of our nation’s government buildings –– have also faced reduced hours or job loss with their civilian employers.
There’s better news on repayment of the social security tax deferral. The Department of Defense has extended the recoupment period for the OASDI tax deferral through December 31, 2021. These monies were initially expected to be paid back over a period of four months, and the eight-month extension should provide some much needed breathing room to many military families. Notifications have been sent out regarding the revised payment schedule through DFAS SmartDocs, and DFAS has several resources regarding payroll tax deferral and collection that you can find here.
Help is available. Perhaps the most encouraging thing to witness at an MFFRC meeting is the number of people and organizations engaged in efforts to respond effectively and compassionately to support financial readiness for the military and veteran family community.
There is tangible support by way of the branch aid societies committed to addressing the immediate needs of families facing challenges (and they are acting quickly to be responsive in a quickly changing environment.)
There are research studies to better understand problems and create viable, effective solutions. And there are new resources being developed that will provide families with financial education and information. Stay tuned as we continue to share information from the MFFRC’s participating members!