Special Compensation for Some Disabled Military Retirees

Some military retirees will soon be receiving monthly payments for service-related health problems thanks to a provision of the 2003 National Defense Authorization Act.

Combat-related special compensation allows some disabled military retirees to collect payments for both their military service and their service-related disability.

The number of people qualifying may be larger than the term "combat related" implies.

According to the legislation, a veteran with "combat-related" disabilities is any 20-year military retiree with at least a 60 percent combined disability rating. His or her injuries are a "direct result of armed conflict," are a result of "hazardous" military service, were incurred while serving in "conditions simulating war" or were incurred "through an instrumentality of war."

Automatic qualifiers include any military retiree with at least 20 years of service who is rated as at least 10 percent disabled by injuries related to the award of a Purple Heart, officials said.

Payments are retroactive to June 1 for those whose disability occurred before that date. Those who apply and are approved will begin receiving payments about 60 days after approval. Depending on the number of applicants, approval could take months, officials said.

Thousands of applications already await approval in the disabilities office here, with more arriving every day, officials said.

"This is a good deal for some of our veterans," said Col. Larry Van Buren, who is heading up the reviews. "This authority granted by Congress will help veterans in a meaningful way."

Family members are not factored into determining the amount of the monthly payment. The compensation is payable only to those considered disabled by Veterans Affairs.

To qualify, retired Reserve applicants must have retired with 7,200 or more total points.

Information and applications are available at base military personnel flights or online at http://www.dfas.mil/retiredmilitary/disability/applyforcrsc.html. Air Force applicants can print and send the application and any supporting documentation to:

United States Air Force, Disability Division (CRSC), 550 C Street West Suite 6, Randolph AFB TX 78150-4708.

Appropriate supporting documentation includes, but is not limited to the following:

  • Department of Defense Form 214, Certificate of Release from Active Duty.
  • Air Force Form 356, Findings and Recommended Disposition of USAF Physical Evaluation Board.
  • Retirement orders.
  • Purple Heart citation and orders.
  • Any documentation indicating combat-related findings.
  • Assignment or temporary duty orders.
  • Medical records.
  • Any VA disability rating decisions made within the last year.

As of 25 June 2003, over 12,000 applications had been received by the Department of Defense for Combat-Related Special Compensation. At least 100 will be approved to receive payments by July 1. The number of approved applications should increase significantly each month as the applications move through the review process.

DOD has three suggestions to improve the quality of an application, which will aid in managing the requests.

First, be careful to classify disabilities as awarded by the VA. A retiree who does not have this information should contact the VA regional office and request a listing of their disabilities by VASRD Code (VA Schedule of Rating Disabilities). The VA has notified regional offices to expect and support such requests. The VA has been very helpful to DOD and the two Departments are working closely to achieve an effective flow and exchange of information needed to operate the CRSC program.

Second, especially for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a retiree should try to find and submit a copy of the first VA rating decision on the disability that shows the basis of the award. More recent ratings may show only that the disability has been increased in percentage with no information about the origin of the disability or basis of the award.

Third, retirees should avoid submission of unrelated documents.

The retiree should try and provide only those supporting documents that deal with the qualifying conditions. This is especially true for medical records. The review board may find it difficult to document a combat disability if the retiree sends in all his/her medical records.

Eligible members are those retirees who have 20 years of service for retired pay computation and who either have disabilities because of combat injuries for which they have been awarded the Purple Heart or who are rated at least 60 percent disabled because of armed conflict, hazardous duty, training exercises, or mishaps involving military equipment.

Members must apply to their own branch of service using DD Form 2860, Application for Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC).

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