For many years, veterans who were entitled to retirement pay from the military (either longevity retirement pay for twenty or more years of service or disability retirement pay for those medically discharged because they were found unfit for continued military service) were not permitted to receive their full military retirement pay and full VA compensation benefits at the same time. Veterans entitled to both had to either elect one of the benefits or waive the amount of retirement pay that equaled the amount of VA disability compensation to which they were entitled. That prohibition does not always apply today. There are currently two programs that help mitigate the loss of income that results from the prohibition against receipt of military retirement pay and VA disability compensation: Concurrent Retirement and Disability Pay (CRDP) and Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC).

Concurrent Retirement and Disability Pay (CRDP)

Under CRDP, retiree veterans with at least twenty years of service, who have a service-connected disability rating between 50 and 90 percent, are entitled to receive their entire VA disability compensation benefit, as well as their entire military retirement payment. This is effective from December 31, 2013.

Retiree veterans with at least twenty years of service, who have a 100 percent service-connected schedular rating, are entitled to receive their entire VA disability compensation benefit, as well as their entire military retirement payment. This has been the case since January 1, 2005.

Retiree veterans with at least twenty years of service, who are rated totally disabled due to individual unemployability (TDIU), will receive their entire VA disability compensation benefit and their full military retirement payments as well. This is retroactive to December 31, 2014.

Retiree veterans with at least twenty years of service, who have a service-connected disability rating at less than 50 percent must waive or give up the amount of retirement pay equal to the amount of VA disability compensation they receive. For these veterans, there is often a tax advantage to electing to receive VA disability compensation, which is tax-free, rather than military retirement pay, which may or may not be tax-free.

Qualified veterans do not need to apply for CRDP. The determination of CRDP payment amounts and initiation of CRDP payments are done automatically by the Department of Defense.

Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC)

CRSC helps ease the loss of income that results from the prohibition against receiving disability compensation from both the Department of Defense and the VA. CRSC is an additional amount of money per month that the Veteran may receive from the military and the VA.

To qualify for CRSC the veteran must: 1) Have at least 20 years of service OR be medically retired with less than 20 years of service AND; 2) Have “combat-related” disabilities service-connected by the VA with a disability rating of at least 10 percent.

There are 5 categories of disabilities and examples that qualify as “combat-related” for purposes of CRSC:

1.  Disabilities Incurred as a Direct Result of Armed Conflict:
  • Injuries sustained from an enemy’s bullet
  • Injuries sustained when a service member dove for cover from incoming rounds
  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder that is caused by a service member fearing death while engaging in a firefight with the enemy
2.  Disabilities Incurred Through an Instrumentality of War:
  • A head injury sustained when a service member falls from a tank due to an abrupt halt caused by the tank tracks unexpectedly locking in place
  • PTSD caused by an incident in which a service member’s main parachute failed to deploy, forcing him to rely on the reserve chute shortly before impact.
  • A Traumatic Brain Injury from an Improvised Explosive Device
3.  Disabilities Incurred During War Games:
  • Disabilities that result from military combat training such as war games, practice alerts, tactical exercises, airborne operations, leadership reaction courses, grenade and live fire weapons practice, and obstacle courses.
 4.  Disabilities Incurred While Engaged in Hazardous Service:
  • Aerial flight, parachute duty, demolition duty, experimental stress duty, and diving duty.
 5. Purple Heart Disabilities.
  • The disability must be an injury for which the Veteran was awarded a Purple Heart

The definition of “combat-related” is broad and is not limited to combat zones and includes the Continental United States

CRSC is not automatically awarded. In order to receive the benefit, the veteran must file DD Form 2860 with the CRSC Board for the branch of service from which the veteran retired. Upon application, the CRSC Board will make two determinations: an initial determination of eligibility and a determination of the combat-relatedness of the veteran’s disabilities that have been service-connected by the VA. After these determinations, the Board will forward this information to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service for the calculation of the amount of retroactive CRSC and prospective monthly CRSC, if any, to which the veteran is due.

Edward M. Farmer is a U.S. Army veteran and attorney. A majority of his career has been dedicated to assisting veterans. More information regarding Edward and his law firm can be found at www.vetlawoffice.com

The material and information contained on these pages and on any pages linked from these pages are intended to provide general information only and not legal advice. You should consult with an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction before relying upon any of the information presented here