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Influx of stop loss claims may cause approval delays

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- An influx of claims in October and November by members applying for retroactive stop loss special pay is leading to an increased processing time as the Dec. 3 deadline nears.

Air Force Personnel Center officials here said applicants can anticipate the processing time to take from 10 to 12 weeks from the date claims arrive at the center, but want to reassure all claimants that applications received by the cutoff date will be properly adjudicated.

"Contributing to the influx in applications is the response to a mass mail-out by the Defense Manpower Data Center to the last known address for all potential eligible Airmen," said Col. Michael Pitts, the chief of the operations division here. "Every effort is being made to reach Airmen whose sacrifices during a time of war may make them eligible for this special pay."

Those eligible served on active duty while their enlistment or period of obligated service was involuntarily extended, or whose eligibility for separation or retirement was suspended as a result of stop loss. Airmen who accepted a selective re-enlistment bonus subsequent to being affected by stop loss are not eligible for the special pay.

To help alleviate the increase in processing time, two Air Force Reserve members are joining the AFPC staff in processing claims at the end of November.

To date, more than 9,500 claims have been filed by applicants since September 2009. Of the 5,000-plus claims processed through Nov. 12, more than 4,000 have been approved for retroactive stop loss special pay.

Eligible individuals submitting a claim can expect to receive a personnel system-generated notice by e-mail seven to 10 days after receipt of their application informing them that their claim has been received. Following that initial notice, individuals should anticipate a decision on their application approximately 10 to 12 weeks later. Those not notified of a decision within that time can contact the Total Force Service Center at 800-525-0102 with their claim number to request a status update. The claim number can be found on a claimant's receipt acknowledgement letter.

Air Force officials used stop loss for Operation Enduring Freedom from Oct. 2, 2001, through Jan. 31, 2003; and Operation Iraqi Freedom from May 2 through Dec. 31, 2003. Individuals who were deployed during either operation may be eligible beyond the inclusive dates depending on their Air Force specialty and deployment return date.

The 2009 War Supplemental Appropriation Act set aside $534.4 million for the retroactive stop loss special pay compensation authority to allow eligible current and former Airmen or their legally designated beneficiaries to file a claim through Oct. 21, 2010. A continuing resolution signed by the president in September extended the application period until Dec. 3.

To file a claim, eligible members or legally designated beneficiaries may download a stop loss claim application at www.afpc.randolph.af.mil/stoploss. The website also offers additional information on application procedures, the types of supporting documents required for a claim, as well as answers to the most frequently asked questions. Applicants who were serving in the Reserve or Guard at the time of stop loss may apply by visiting the Air Reserve Personnel Center website at https://arpc.afrc.af.mil/vPC-GR.

For more information, current Air Force employees may call the Total Force Service Center at 800-525-0102.