Retirement benefits are one of the greatest perks of joining the military. However, many Veterans who are receiving retirement may have decided to leave well enough alone, and not pursue disability benefits which they medically, legally and ethically qualify for.
In the past, Veterans were unable to receive both VA disability compensation and retirement pay at the same time because the government considered it a violation of the “double-dipping” law. Under this law, the amount the Veteran receives in VA compensation is subtracted from the amount he or she receives in retired pay to avoid “double-dipping.”
There was a time when retirement benefits were only available to “lifers” – those who served at least 20 years. But in 2018, the military transitioned to the blended retirement system (BRS). Now, most military service members can walk away with some sort of retirement help.
Veterans who collect retirement are also eligible to collect VA disability that they medically, legally and ethically qualify for through CRDP (Concurrent Retirement Disability Pay).
Since this process can seem a bit complicated, we are breaking it down to clarify what Veterans should be aware of.
How can a retired Veteran qualify for CRDP?
To be eligible, you need to meet the following qualifications:
- You are a regular retiree with a VA disability rating of 50 percent or greater.
- You are a reserve retiree with 20 qualifying years of service, who has a VA disability rating of 50 percent or greater and who has reached retirement age. In most cases, the retirement age for reservists is 60, but certain reserve retirees may be eligible before they turn 60. If you are a member of the Ready Reserve, your retirement age can be reduced below age 60 by three months for every 90 days of active service you have performed during a fiscal year.
- You are retired under Temporary Early Retirement Act (TERA) and have a VA disability rating of 50 percent or greater.
- You are a disability retiree who earned entitlement to retired pay under any provision of law other than solely by disability, and you have a VA disability rating of 50 percent or greater. You might become eligible for CRDP at the time you would have become eligible for retired pay.
It is important to note that military retirement pay and VA Disability pay are separate.
Military retirement is a pension that is based on your years of service. The check comes from the DFAS. VA disability pay is based on your disabilities that impact your life after leaving the military. The VA sends a check for disability.
Disabilities that may be considered combat-related include injuries incurred as a direct result of:
- Armed Conflict
- Hazardous Duty
- An Instrumentality of War
- Simulated War
You are eligible for full concurrent receipt of both your VA disability compensation and your retired pay if you are a military retiree who meets all of the above eligibility requirements in addition to both of the following:
- You are rated by the VA as unemployable, generally referred to as Individual Unemployability (IU)
- You are in receipt of VA disability compensation as a result of IU
Are you underrated?
Do you have reason to believe you are not being properly compensated for your service-connected disabilities?
Do you have conditions you feel are service-connected, or secondary conditions related to service-connected disabilities that the VA is not acknowledging? You may well qualify for an increase.
Did you know that Veterans who qualify for a rating of 50% or above receive a separate check, on top of their retirement check, for anywhere from 1,000-3,400 a month?
The world of VA benefits can be challenging for Veterans to navigate on their own because each Veteran’s case is unique – there is no one size fits all solution. Also, many people get turned down for benefits simply because they don’t know how to establish Nexus (service connection). With the right medical evidence, it is quite possible for Veterans who have been rejected numerous times to get a rating increase and get the benefits they medically, legally and ethically qualify for.
Is this you?
If you are wondering how to go about gathering medical evidence to support a benefit claim, or you are not sure how to establish service connection, get started with Trajector Medical for a consultation today.
And remember, when you do your estate planning, make sure your will is up to date and that the beneficiaries for any pensions and insurance policies are up to date. When mail arrives from the VA, be sure to open it and read it right away. If you do not understand it, contact your VSO for an appointment to assist you.