Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) Is NOT the Same As Concurrent Receipt

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Warning!  This is a very long article.  I recommend taking it in pieces to avoid being overwhelmed by information overload.

 

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You’re almost there.  You have been medically retired. You’re receiving VA compensation and you’re getting military retirement for your disability.  Lastly, your VA compensation is offsetting your military pay.  Now you can proceed to the final step in your path to complete medical retirement.

 

“What is this last step?” you may ask.

 

If any of your disabilities are the result of direct combat, hazardous duty, or preparing for combat (like training exercises), you may be eligible for Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC).

 

“CRSC? That sounds like CRDP (Concurrent Retirement and Disability Pay) which you discussed last week.  Aren’t they the same thing?”

 

To put it simply, no, they’re not the same, though they’re often confused for being such.  Don’t let the similar acronyms confuse you.  CRSC is designed to make up for some or all of the VA offset you are experiencing in your retired pay if you have combat-related disabilities. It’s quite different from CRDP.

 

For starters, the eligibility for CRSC is quite different from CRDP.  For example, you do not have to have reached your reserve retired pay eligibility date (RPED, usually age sixty) in order to receive CRSC.  Let’s look at a list of the eligibility requirements.

 

Eligibility
To qualify for CRSC you must:

  • be eligible for and/or receiving military retired pay
  • be rated at least 10 percent by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA)
  • have a VA offset from your retired pay
  • file a CRSC application with your Branch of Service

Source: https://www.dfas.mil/retiredmilitary/disability/crsc.html

 

Only four requirements, this looks simple, right?  Now let’s consider the types of disabilities that can be categorized as combat-related.

 

 

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

Source: https://www.dfas.mil/retiredmilitary/disability/crsc.html

 

Now we’re getting into some terminology which may be confusing.  Let’s look at each one and define them a little better.

 

Armed Conflict: Direct combat, such as an injury from an improvised explosive device (IED) or a firefight, or the results of combat, such as lung damage from inhaling smoke from a vehicle burning during or after an engagement.  This can also be problems resulting from environmental issues from being in a combat theater.  However, an injury resulting while in theater, such as injuries sustained during physical training while overseas, is not enough on its own to qualify for CRSC.  There must be a document link between your injury and combat operations.

 

Hazardous Duty: Engaging in duties which are naturally considered highly dangerous, such as explosive ordinance disposal, flight, or paratrooper operations.

 

An Instrumentality of War: This is essentially military equipment such as a vehicle, vessel or other device designed primarily for military service.  The injury has to be caused by as a result of use of this equipment during training or combat and not be a result of negligence.  Simple accidents usually will not qualify.

 

Simulated War: This can be field training exercises and war games, anything in which simulated combat is taking place.  Again, there must be a documented link between the simulation of combat and your injury.

 

That should help a bit with understanding the conditions during which your sustained your disability.  It does sound a bit constraining sometimes but there is a lot of room to work here.  Remember that everything must be documented.  Your word that a disability is a result of any of these conditions won’t be enough.  I will post a list of the combat-related conditions in the references section below (look for Appendix A of DD Form 2860).

 

Applying for CRSC:

Now let’s talk about how to apply for CRSC.  Unlike CRDP, this does not happen automatically.  You do have to apply for it.  However, be sure you meet all of the requirements above first.  Your request will be denied if you do not have military retirement being offset by VA compensation. Also keep in mind that you apply for CRSC through your branch of service, not the Veterans Administration.

 

The first part of the application is DD Form 2860 (Claim for Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC)).  This is the easiest part of the whole shebang though it may not seem like it at the time.  I have spent over two hours with retirees on this.  It’s a lot easier if your records have been pre-sorted and the parts you need to reference are easily accessible.  Most of that time I mentioned has been spent going through hundreds of pages of documents trying to find the right things.  The last one of these I prepared for a retiree took seemingly no time at all because he had prepared his documents beforehand (a good tip).

 

Some other resources out there on the magical interwebs has already put together a good bit of information on what needs to accompany the DD 2860.  I will quote from these sources for a significant part of what follows (with occasional clarification by me in brackets).  These lists of documents are also good suggestions for how to prepare yourself for applying by sorting your records before meeting with a retirement services officer.

 

Documents to Support your CRSC Claim:

[Include] relevant supporting documentation with your CRSC claim [which] assists … in determining CRSC eligibility. Time and again, claims come in lacking supporting documentation linking the injury to a combat-related situation. Click for combat-related definitions.

 

When completing the DD Form 2860 (CRSC Claim Form), please include the following documents to verify your injuries as combat-related.

 

Essential Documents:

  1. All available DD 214s/ DD 215s. You may obtain copies online from the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) [or your archived records section (if you are National Guard)]. Be sure to retain a copy for your records.
  2. All complete Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) Rating Decisions/ VA Physician Reports/ VA Medical Records (including the VA letter, the actual VA rating decisions and the VA code sheets)

 

Highly Recommended Documents:

  1. Medical Records
  2. Award Certificates and/or narratives (purple hearts)
  3. Military Medical Treatment Facility Records
  4. Military Orders

 

Suggested Documents:

  1. Military Quadrennial Physical Examinations
  2. Military Retirement Physicals
  3. Physical Evaluation Board Proceedings
  4. Clinical Records or Notes
  5. Sick Slips
  6. Western Union Casualty Notification Telegrams
  7. Officers Record Brief / Enlisted Records Brief

 

Note: DO NOT send original records, please send copies. If all you have is a copy, please be sure to retain a copy for your own records.

Source: https://www.hrc.army.mil/content/Apply%20for%20CRSC

 

As you can see, this long list of documentation lends a lot of weight to the old credo about keeping everything the military gives you.  They come in handy when you are trying to acquire benefits like CRSC.

 

Once you have finished the application, make a copy of everything (and I mean everything).  I have included the addresses where you can send the packet below.  Sorry, there is no electronic way of submitting them.

 

Army

Department of the Army

U.S. Army Human Resources Command

ATTN: CRSC Division

1600 Spearhead Division Avenue

Fort Knox, KY 40122

866-281-3254 (Toll Free)

502-613-9550 (efax)

crsc.info@us.army.mil

www.hrc.army.mil/tagd/crsc

 

 

Navy and Marine Corps

Department of Navy

Secretary of the Navy Council of Review Boards Combat Related Special Compensation

720 Kennon Street SE, Suite 309

Washington Navy Yard, DC 20374-5023

877-366-2772 (Toll Free)

CRSC@navy.mil

http://www.secnav.navy.mil/mra/CORB/Pages/CRSCB

 

 

Air Force

United States Air Force Personnel Center Disability Division (CRSC)

550 C Street West, Suite 6

Randolph AFB, TX 78150-4708

800-525-0102

AFPC.DPPDC.AFCRSC@us.af.mil

http://www.retirees.af.mil/

 

 

Coast Guard

Commander (adm-1-CRSC)

U.S. Coast Guard

Personnel Command

4200 Wilson Boulevard

Arlington, VA 22203-1804

1-800-772-8274

www.uscg.mil/hq/cgpc/adm/adm1.htm

 

 

NOAA Corps

Director, Commissioned Personnel Center

8403 Colesville Road, Suite 500

Silver Spring, MD 20910-6333

 

 

Public Health Service

United States Public Health Service

Compensation Branch

Program Support Center, ESS

5600 Fishers Lane, Room 4-50

Rockville, MD 20857-0001

 

Reconsiderations:

Here is a quick note about reconsideration of claims which I borrowed from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS).

 

If you are reapplying for new disabilities, request a reconsideration application from your service branch.

 

Army: you can find a reconsideration application and instructions at https://www.hrc.army.mil/site/crsc/reconsiderations.html

Navy/Marines: you can find a reconsideration application and instructions at http://www.secnav.navy.mil/mra/CORB/Pages/CRSCB

Air Force: Call 800-525-0102 concerning reconsideration

 

Mail or fax your application to your branch of service. You can’t submit it electronically.

Source: https://www.dfas.mil/retiredmilitary/disability/applyforcrsc.html

 

 

 

As with so many things in the retirement world, I do not recommend trying to do all of this yourself.  This is easily one of the most complicated things you can do. It’s not like taxes, but it can be a beast.  If you need assistance completing the application for CRSC, contact a retirement services officer or your branch of service.

 

CRSC is not fast.  I have seen it take a minimum of six months and sometimes more to get a decision from a branch of service.  At least on the Army side, your RSO should be able to track the status of your application using the Soldier Management System (SMS) website located at https://www.hrcapps.army.mil/iws/.

 

Other considerations:

Information, planning, and timing are critical with CRSC.  I have seen three people bitten hard by lack of knowledge when it comes to medical retirements.  I know there are many more out there.  In fact, I would not be surprised if there is a class-action lawsuit in the future regarding the results of this lack of information.  Here is what I mean.

 

As a worst-case example, let me tell you about one individual who was medical retired from active duty.  In his situation, he was medically retired, was receiving VA compensation, and was receiving retired pay from the military.  The problem: there was no offset as a result of the VA payments.  For some reason, the VA and DFAS computes did not sync as they normally do and the offset did not begin for almost two years.

 

Can you see what was going to happen?  I bet you can.  He got a nasty-gram from DFAS saying he owed them over $70,000 in overpaid retirement as a result of the VA offset not occurring. He also had not applied for CRSC so there was no way to take care of this debt easily.

 

As you have learned from this poor fellow, it is imperative that you be aware of how military and VA pay are supposed to work.  If you don’t see an offset in your pay, contact someone immediately.  Also, if you think you are eligible, apply for CRSC right away.  Don’t wait.

 

Here is another thing to keep in mind.  It is possible to be eligible for both CRDP and CRSC.  You can only get one however. For reservists, this means you have reached your retired pay eligibility date and you have a VA rating of at least fifty percent.  DFAS will contact you in writing and ask you which of the two you would prefer to receive. You must choose which is best for you.  Since CRDP is taxable and CRSC is not, this is usually an easy decision.  Your situation may differ, though.

 

I said I would compare CRDP and CRSC.  This is already a long article, though.  You’re probably weary of reading and I am certainly getting tired of writing (with its current formatting in MS Word, including the references below, it’s eleven pages already and I’m not finished. Who knows how long it will be when I post it to the blog).  I am going to use one of those web resources I mentioned and post a comparison which has already been written in the references section.

 

I hope this has helped somewhat in understanding the basics of Combat-Related Special Compensation.  I am sure there is still a lot of confusion.  For this reason, I welcome all questions you may have.  Please post them in the comments section or email me directly at dj@rcretirement.com.  I will answer them all for you.  Who knows?  Your question might spark another article.  Be sure to check all of the reference material below, as well.

 

If you believe this article would be useful to someone else, please share a link to it with those other people.  Also, be sure to spread the word about this site.  Don’t worry about the slow load times it currently has.  I am working on a site rebuild which should alleviate that problem.

 

For those of you on YouTube, I ask that you subscribe and comment on the video about this topic (and the others, naturally).  The more the channel grows, the more I can do for currently serving and retired military members and their families.

 

If you’re listening to this in podcast form, I similarly ask that you subscribe to the podcast feed in iTunes.  Writing reviews about the podcast also helps spread the word about it and encourages to subscribe to it and benefit from the knowledge it can provide.

 

As always, thanks for joining me today and being part of this audience.  Lastly, but not the least, of course, thank you for your service.  Have a great day.

 

D.J.

References:
Combat Related Special Compensation (CRSC) (DFAS)
Applying for CRSC (DFAS)
Comparing CRSC and CRDP
DD 2860 – Claim for Combat-Related Special Compensation – Blank.pdf
Army CRSC Reference Guide
Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) and Concurrent Retirement Disability Pay (CRDP)
Additional Monetary Benefits for Eligible Military Retirees
CRSC Eligibility
CRSC Guidance
Combat-Related Codes (Appendix A from DD Form 2860)

Related YouTube Episodes:
Help, I Need My Records. Where is My DD 214?
Should I Take Drill Pay or VA Compensation?
Change of Plans: New Series on Medical Retirement
I’m Medically Unfit for Retention. Now What?
Beware the IDES of Medical Boards…?
“Jackpot! I’ve Been Offered a HUGE Severance Payment.”  DJ says, “Don’t Take It.”
Interview With a PEBLO
“But My PEBLO said…”  The Truth About Concurrent Retired and Disability Pay

Related Podcast Episodes:
Help, I Need My Records. Where is My DD 214?
Should I Take Drill Pay or VA Compensation?
Change of Plans: New Series on Medical Retirement
I’m Medically Unfit for Retention. Now What?
Beware the IDES of Medical Boards…?
“Jackpot! I’ve Been Offered a HUGE Severance Payment.”  DJ says, “Don’t Take It.”
Interview With a PEBLO
“But My PEBLO said…”  The Truth About Concurrent Retired and Disability Pay

Related Articles:
Help, I Need My Records. Where is My DD 214?
Should I Take Drill Pay or VA Compensation?
I’m Medically Unfit for Retention. Now What?
Beware the IDES of Medical Boards…?
“Jackpot! I’ve Been Offered a HUGE Severance Payment.”  DJ says, “Don’t Take It.”
“But My PEBLO said…”  The Truth About Concurrent Retired and Disability Pay


Podcast Episode 0046 – Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) Is NOT the Same As Concurrent Receipt

What is CRSC? It’s not the same as CRDP. It’s a horse of a different color.

 

 

 

References:
Combat Related Special Compensation (CRSC) (DFAS)
Applying for CRSC (DFAS)
Comparing CRSC and CRDP
DD 2860 – Claim for Combat-Related Special Compensation – Blank.pdf
Army CRSC Reference Guide
Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) and Concurrent Retirement Disability Pay (CRDP)
Additional Monetary Benefits for Eligible Military Retirees
CRSC Eligibility
CRSC Guidance
Combat-Related Codes (Appendix A from DD Form 2860)

Related YouTube Episodes:
Help, I Need My Records. Where is My DD 214?
Should I Take Drill Pay or VA Compensation?
Change of Plans: New Series on Medical Retirement
I’m Medically Unfit for Retention. Now What?
Beware the IDES of Medical Boards…?
“Jackpot! I’ve Been Offered a HUGE Severance Payment.”  DJ says, “Don’t Take It.”
Interview With a PEBLO
“But My PEBLO said…”  The Truth About Concurrent Retired and Disability Pay

Related Podcast Episodes:
Help, I Need My Records. Where is My DD 214?
Should I Take Drill Pay or VA Compensation?
Change of Plans: New Series on Medical Retirement
I’m Medically Unfit for Retention. Now What?
Beware the IDES of Medical Boards…?
“Jackpot! I’ve Been Offered a HUGE Severance Payment.”  DJ says, “Don’t Take It.”
Interview With a PEBLO
“But My PEBLO said…”  The Truth About Concurrent Retired and Disability Pay

Related Articles:
Help, I Need My Records. Where is My DD 214?
Should I Take Drill Pay or VA Compensation?
I’m Medically Unfit for Retention. Now What?
Beware the IDES of Medical Boards…?
“Jackpot! I’ve Been Offered a HUGE Severance Payment.”  DJ says, “Don’t Take It.”
“But My PEBLO said…”  The Truth About Concurrent Retired and Disability Pay


Podcast Episode 0044 – Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) Is NOT the Same As Concurrent Receipt

What is CRSC? It’s not the same as CRDP. It’s a horse of a different color.

 

 

References:
Combat Related Special Compensation (CRSC) (DFAS)
Applying for CRSC (DFAS)
Comparing CRSC and CRDP
DD 2860 – Claim for Combat-Related Special Compensation – Blank.pdf
Army CRSC Reference Guide
Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) and Concurrent Retirement Disability Pay (CRDP)
Additional Monetary Benefits for Eligible Military Retirees
CRSC Eligibility
CRSC Guidance
Combat-Related Codes (Appendix A from DD Form 2860)

 

Related YouTube Episodes:
Help, I Need My Records. Where is My DD 214?
Should I Take Drill Pay or VA Compensation?
Change of Plans: New Series on Medical Retirement
I’m Medically Unfit for Retention. Now What?
Beware the IDES of Medical Boards…?
“Jackpot! I’ve Been Offered a HUGE Severance Payment.”  DJ says, “Don’t Take It.”
Interview With a PEBLO
“But My PEBLO said…”  The Truth About Concurrent Retired and Disability Pay

Related Podcast Episodes:
Help, I Need My Records. Where is My DD 214?
Should I Take Drill Pay or VA Compensation?
Change of Plans: New Series on Medical Retirement
I’m Medically Unfit for Retention. Now What?
Beware the IDES of Medical Boards…?
“Jackpot! I’ve Been Offered a HUGE Severance Payment.”  DJ says, “Don’t Take It.”
Interview With a PEBLO
“But My PEBLO said…”  The Truth About Concurrent Retired and Disability Pay

 

Related Articles:
Help, I Need My Records. Where is My DD 214?
Should I Take Drill Pay or VA Compensation?
I’m Medically Unfit for Retention. Now What?
Beware the IDES of Medical Boards…?
“Jackpot! I’ve Been Offered a HUGE Severance Payment.”  DJ says, “Don’t Take It.”
“But My PEBLO said…”  The Truth About Concurrent Retired and Disability Pay


YouTube Episode 0046 – Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) Is NOT the Same As Concurrent Receipt

https://youtu.be/8XmnlAgaTtk

 

 

References:
Combat Related Special Compensation (CRSC) (DFAS)
Applying for CRSC (DFAS)
Comparing CRSC and CRDP
DD 2860 – Claim for Combat-Related Special Compensation – Blank.pdf
Army CRSC Reference Guide
Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) and Concurrent Retirement Disability Pay (CRDP)
Additional Monetary Benefits for Eligible Military Retirees
CRSC Eligibility
CRSC Guidance
Combat-Related Codes (Appendix A from DD Form 2860)

 

Related YouTube Episodes:
Help, I Need My Records. Where is My DD 214?
Should I Take Drill Pay or VA Compensation?
Change of Plans: New Series on Medical Retirement
I’m Medically Unfit for Retention. Now What?
Beware the IDES of Medical Boards…?
“Jackpot! I’ve Been Offered a HUGE Severance Payment.”  DJ says, “Don’t Take It.”
Interview With a PEBLO
“But My PEBLO said…”  The Truth About Concurrent Retired and Disability Pay

Related Podcast Episodes:
Help, I Need My Records. Where is My DD 214?
Should I Take Drill Pay or VA Compensation?
Change of Plans: New Series on Medical Retirement
I’m Medically Unfit for Retention. Now What?
Beware the IDES of Medical Boards…?
“Jackpot! I’ve Been Offered a HUGE Severance Payment.”  DJ says, “Don’t Take It.”
Interview With a PEBLO
“But My PEBLO said…”  The Truth About Concurrent Retired and Disability Pay

Related Articles:
Help, I Need My Records. Where is My DD 214?
Should I Take Drill Pay or VA Compensation?
I’m Medically Unfit for Retention. Now What?
Beware the IDES of Medical Boards…?
“Jackpot! I’ve Been Offered a HUGE Severance Payment.”  DJ says, “Don’t Take It.”
“But My PEBLO said…”  The Truth About Concurrent Retired and Disability Pay


YouTube Episode 0046 – Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) Is NOT the Same As Concurrent Receipt

https://youtu.be/8XmnlAgaTtk

References:
Combat Related Special Compensation (CRSC) (DFAS)
Applying for CRSC (DFAS)
Comparing CRSC and CRDP
DD 2860 – Claim for Combat-Related Special Compensation – Blank.pdf
Army CRSC Reference Guide
Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) and Concurrent Retirement Disability Pay (CRDP)
Additional Monetary Benefits for Eligible Military Retirees
CRSC Eligibility
CRSC Guidance
Combat-Related Codes (Appendix A from DD Form 2860)

Related YouTube Episodes:
Help, I Need My Records. Where is My DD 214?
Should I Take Drill Pay or VA Compensation?
Change of Plans: New Series on Medical Retirement
I’m Medically Unfit for Retention. Now What?
Beware the IDES of Medical Boards…?
“Jackpot! I’ve Been Offered a HUGE Severance Payment.”  DJ says, “Don’t Take It.”
Interview With a PEBLO
“But My PEBLO said…”  The Truth About Concurrent Retired and Disability Pay

Related Podcast Episodes:
Help, I Need My Records. Where is My DD 214?
Should I Take Drill Pay or VA Compensation?
Change of Plans: New Series on Medical Retirement
I’m Medically Unfit for Retention. Now What?
Beware the IDES of Medical Boards…?
“Jackpot! I’ve Been Offered a HUGE Severance Payment.”  DJ says, “Don’t Take It.”
Interview With a PEBLO
“But My PEBLO said…”  The Truth About Concurrent Retired and Disability Pay

Related Articles:
Help, I Need My Records. Where is My DD 214?
Should I Take Drill Pay or VA Compensation?
I’m Medically Unfit for Retention. Now What?
Beware the IDES of Medical Boards…?
“Jackpot! I’ve Been Offered a HUGE Severance Payment.”  DJ says, “Don’t Take It.”
“But My PEBLO said…”  The Truth About Concurrent Retired and Disability Pay


The Temporary and Permanent Disability Retirement Lists

You’ve finally made it through the maze of the medical board journey, your branch of service has given you a disability rating, and you are about to be medically retired.  What in the world does all of that mean?  Here is the skinny on the disability retirement lists.  This will be a long article so please read it carefully.

 

What are they?

These are essentially active duty retirements (even if you are a reservist) with benefits starting right away.  You do not have to wait until sixty like the usual reserve retirement.  The Temporary Disability Retired List (TDRL) and the Permanent Disability Retired List (PDRL) are statuses given to service members who have long-term medical disabilities and are no longer able to perform their military duties as a result.  These service members also have a combined disability rating (see my article on medical boards, “Beware the IDES of Medical Boards…?” for an explanation on how this works.  I’ll include a link in the notes below.

 

Eligibility

If your injuries are long-term and you have a disability rating from your branch of service of at least 30% then you can be placed on the permanent disability retired list (PDRL).  If you have a possibility of recovering from your injuries within a certain amount of time, usually three years or less, then you can be placed on the temporary disability retired list (TDRL).

 

Service members on the TDRL will be on the list for a maximum of three years and will have their conditions reevaluated at least every eighteen months.  If you have recovered sufficiently then you will be removed from the list and returned to service.  If you have not recovered (more likely) then you can either be offered a severance package or transferred to the PDRL.

 

Benefits

For members on the TDRL, the minimum amount of retired pay is fifty percent of active duty base pay (even if your branch of service’s disability rating is lower than that) up to a maximum of seventy-five percent (even if your branch of service’s disability rating is higher than that).  Keep in mind that your final rating from your branch of service (BOS) can go down when you are reevaluated.  This downgrade can result in severance if your rating goes below thirty percent.  If you are transferred to the PDRL then your rate of pay will be based on your final disability rating (determined upon reevaluation).

 

Members on the PDRL will receive retired pay based on their active duty base pay and their final disability rating.

 

A benefit often more valuable than the amount of retired pay is Tricare health care benefits.  Tricare is available not only for the service member but also his spouse and dependent children.  Make sure they are registered in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) – the same database used to determine which ID card you receive – since this is what is referenced by Tricare whenever you try to use your health benefits.  I usually tell people that Tricare is easily worth at least $1,000 per month in value.

Service members on either of these retirement lists are eligible for a blue (retired) ID card.  Their dependents are eligible for tan cards.  These cards allow you to use all of the on-post (and off-post) benefits received by any other military retiree (such as discounts at civilian businesses).  Be sure to take your disability order with you when you show up to get new cards for everyone.

 

You should get the cards around a week or so from your orders’ effective date.  You can do it within a week after this date, as well.  Don’t wait any longer than this, though, or you may have problems with DEERS.  Be sure the DEERS operator lists you as a retiree (not a reserve retiree) when he updates your record.

 

Applying for Pay

I recommend getting the help of a retirement services officer (RSO) for this part of things.  While the pay application can appear simple at first, there are many areas where mistakes can be made.  Errors on the application can delay the start of your benefits (until they are fixed).  An RSO will know how to do everything correctly.

 

Use DD Form 2656 to apply for retired pay.  Other than a few supporting documents, you will not need to complete any other forms (they just have the same information as the DD 2656 anyway).

 

The supporting documents for most people on the PDRL or TDRL are just the disability order (the one with your rating on it not your discharge from your branch of service) and your final retirement points statement. I’ll include an example from the Army in the notes below.  Expect about two months from the time the application is sent to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) for pay to begin.

 

If you have a twenty-year letter, it is a good idea to include that letter and your reserve component survivor benefit plan election, as well.  Don’t worry. You’ll get back pay from the effective date of your disability order to the present. You won’t lose any money.

 

How VA Compensation Affects Pay

Just like any other type of military pay, compensation from the Veterans Administration will offset – dollar for dollar – anything you get from the military.  There is a thing called Concurrent Retired and Disability Pay  (often simply called concurrent receipt) – or CRDP for short – which allows for this offset not to happen if you have at least a 50% rating from the VA, but this does not apply for medical retirements.  There is also a type of pay called combat-related special compensation which makes up for some or all of the VA offset.  You might be eligible for both of these but can only receive one or the other.

 

Concurrent Retired and Disability Pay (CRDP)

I just said you can’t get CRDP if you have a medical retirement, but you can choose to get this if you have twenty years of qualifying service and you have reached your retired pay eligibility date (RPED).  Your RPED is usually age sixty, but can be earlier if you have qualifying active duty service.  Talk to an RSO to see if this applies to you.  I will go deeper into the CRDP topic in next week’s article.

 

Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC)

CRSC sounds very similar to CRDP (probably because they both have CR in the acronym) and people very often get them confused.  Even retirement services officers and your physical evaluation board liaison officer (PEBLO) can get the facts jumbled in their minds.

 

CRSC is a type of pay for people with combat-related injuries which makes up for part (or all) of the offset between retired pay and VA compensation.  This pay does not happen automatically.  There is a separate application packet which needs to be sent to your branch of service in order to receive it.  First, though, you need to have retired pay which is being reduced by VA compensation (so be sure to apply for pay with an RSO’s assistance).  I will cover the specifics of CRSC in two weeks (after I have talked about concurrent receipt in more detail).

 

Hopefully, this was a useful article.  I don’t want to get too deep in the weeds or it might end up being more of a mind bender than it needs to be.  If I missed anything or you are confused about something, please drop a comment for me and I will answer any problems you might have.

 

Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel and podcast for updates on future posts.

 

Thanks for joining me today and, of course, thank you for your service.

 

D.J.

 

References:
TDRL Order Example

Related YouTube Episodes:
Change of Plans: New Series on Medical Retirement
I’m Medically Unfit for Retention. Now What?
Beware the IDES of Medical Boards…?
“Jackpot! I’ve Been Offered a HUGE Severance Payment.”  DJ says, “Don’t Take It.”
Interview With a PEBLO


Related Podcast Episodes
:
Change of Plans: New Series on Medical Retirement
I’m Medically Unfit for Retention. Now What?
Beware the IDES of Medical Boards…?

“Jackpot! I’ve Been Offered a HUGE Severance Payment.”  DJ says, “Don’t Take It.”
Interview With a PEBLO
Related Articles:
I’m Medically Unfit for Retention. Now What?
Beware the IDES of Medical Boards…?
“Jackpot! I’ve Been Offered a HUGE Severance Payment.”  DJ says, “Don’t Take It.”


Podcast Episode 0042 – The Temporary and Permanent Disability Retirement Lists

 

References:
TDRL Order Example

Related YouTube Episodes:
Change of Plans: New Series on Medical Retirement
I’m Medically Unfit for Retention. Now What?
Beware the IDES of Medical Boards…?
“Jackpot! I’ve Been Offered a HUGE Severance Payment.”  DJ says, “Don’t Take It.”
Interview With a PEBLO


Related Podcast Episodes
:
Change of Plans: New Series on Medical Retirement
I’m Medically Unfit for Retention. Now What?
Beware the IDES of Medical Boards…?

“Jackpot! I’ve Been Offered a HUGE Severance Payment.”  DJ says, “Don’t Take It.”
Interview With a PEBLO
Related Articles:
I’m Medically Unfit for Retention. Now What?
Beware the IDES of Medical Boards…?
“Jackpot! I’ve Been Offered a HUGE Severance Payment.”  DJ says, “Don’t Take It.”


YouTube Episode 0044 – The Temporary and Permanent Disability Retirement Lists


Mrs. Gloria Jackson – An Introduction to the Fettinger Project

The Blended Retirement System series is finally complete.  I think it’s time to talk about something other than boring forms, all sorts of numbers, and bits of public law.  I’m going to tell you about an effort that has been ongoing in my region for quite a while now.  Like any good story, it is rife with ups and downs, victories and defeats.  I’ll begin with how this project began and then continue with the most recent story to develop from it.

 

The name of the lady who inspired this endeavor is real.  I have permission to use her name and story in the efforts of identifying and assisting other people who face similar situations such as hers.  All other names and, in many cases, locations have been changed in order to protect privacy.

 

In late 2013, Mrs. Kathleen Fettinger approached our Survivor Outreach Services section to inquire about any service benefits her husband may have earned.  The SOS Coordinator, Mr. Frazier Thompson, asked me to join in the conversation after a few minutes (I was only a few desks away at the time).  Mrs. Fettinger’s husband, Gerard, has passed away two years before after a multi-year battle with cancer.  He was sixty-two years old when he died.

 

As the conversation developed, we soon discovered that Master Sergeant Fettinger had never applied for his military pension when he turned sixty.  His physical and mental condition had deteriorated significantly as a result of his medical treatments.  This caused him to forget completely about his military service and his retirement benefits.  Mrs. Fettinger also was not aware that he had earned anything of the sort to include survivor benefits.  Naturally, we jumped at the chance to assist this lady. To further sadden the situation, the amount of retirement MSG Fettinger would have received – along with the Tricare benefit – would have been enough to keep them from having to declare bankruptcy.  The short answer is we were able to get the survivor benefit for her right away and, after a yearlong wait for the Army Board for the Correction of Military Records to make its decision, also obtained all of the retired pay her husband would have received.

 

Later that day after Mrs. Fettinger had left us, I was talking about her case with a volunteer who was helping us in retirement services.  We were stunned by the fact that someone had not applied for the benefits he had earned at the right time.  As the conversation progressed, we began to wonder how many others out there were like MSG Fettinger.  The good news was I had the tools to answer that question.  Over the course of the next several weeks, I scoured our National Guard retirement points database, information from Army Human Resources Command, and the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS).  Ultimately, a list of forty-five names appeared.  My volunteers, members of the Survivor Outreach Services section, other coworkers, and I began to search for these people.  We dubbed our efforts “The Fettinger Project” in honor of Mrs. Fettinger and her husband.  As of this writing, all but one has been located (that guy is living off the grid in a cabin somewhere in the forests of North Carolina).

 

I would like to tell you about the last person we found on that list.  Who knows?  I might make this into a recurring series of good (and sometimes bad) stories.

 

Sergeant John Jackson was a man I feared we would never find.  He was nine years late in applying for pay.  Not only did he have a very common name and live in a large city with dozens of people with that name and similar age, his contact information was so old as to be completely useless.  Pretty much, I had given up on him.  There was still that needling urge to keep trying from the little man in the back of my head, though.  Every now and then when I had a moment to breathe at work, I would continue in my search.

 

A few months ago, Mr. Thompson, whom I mentioned earlier, introduced me to a smartphone app which had helped me locate a name on the list.  I decided to try again one morning during some downtime at a leadership conference a few weeks ago.  Of course, there were again several names on the list which could have been SGT Jackson.  One of them, though, had a previous address which was the one I had in my old records.  I dug deeper into the profile on the app.

 

In the list of possible addresses was another bit of information: the time first and last seen near that address (in a way, it’s scary how much information is online).  The address at the top of the list, possibly the current address, had this information, as well.  I gasped in audible dismay when I read it.  The last time he was seen in that area was 2008.  I actually felt chills at this point.  Could he have died years before and we would never be able to help him as a result?

 

I dug further, this time using a search engine, and felt myself crash further.  I found his obituary and the place where he was buried, a state military cemetery in the northern part of the state.  He was fifty-nine when he passed away.  I remember releasing my pent-up breath at this point.  It was over.  I had found him too late.  In fact, I was five years too late when I even began looking for him.  Failure.  Complete, abject failure; the worst sensation imaginable in this line of work.  I had failed to help him and his family. Or had I?

 

Another thought came into my mind.  Wasn’t SGT Jackson married?  Was his wife still alive?  I delved into what few records I had on him and found his survivor benefit election certificate.  There is was.  He was married to Gloria.  Was she still with us?  Could I find her perhaps?

 

Back to the app I went.  Almost instantly, I found a name with the correct age.  It even had the last address I had found for SGT Jackson.  There were two possible phone numbers.  By this time a coworker had walked up and noticed my obvious intensity.  I quickly explained what had happened in the last few minutes.  He visibly paled and then brightened again as he listened.  I picked up my cell phone and dialed, a silent prayer on my lips.  The other side of the line rang twice and then went to voicemail.  I left a message and immediately tried the other number.  It rang incessantly with no answer.

 

I tried those numbers fanatically over the next three days. There was no change.  The first number always went to voicemail after two rings and the second just rang on and on.  The specter of defeat loomed again.  What was I to do now?

 

A strange thought came to me at that point.  Several weeks earlier, I had located one of the few people left on the Fettinger list by asking assistance of the local police department.  In that case, I had contacted a police operator and asked simply whether the retiree was in fact living in the town or not.  Upon hearing my story, the operator decided to call him and give him my number.  The retiree called back half an hour later.  Would this option work for Mrs. Jackson?

 

I decided to try it.  I called the local police and recited my tale to the operator.  At first, I thought it did no good whatsoever.  The operator said he would look into it.  How detailed a response could I expect, though?  I was asking for the personal information of a private citizen after all.  The next day, however, I got a bit of a surprise.  The deputy chief of police called me and left a message.  We played phone tag for another day before finally catching each other near our phones.  He listened to my more descriptive version of the story and made a decision on the spot.  He would go to Mrs. Jackson’s house and deliver the message.  “It will be my feel-good story for a Friday,” he said.  That was around one o’clock in the afternoon.  I figured I would not hear anything further until Monday.

 

For the next half hour, I tried to plan some training with a coworker but we were interrupted by a visit from our former branch chief.  The work slowly devolved into the laid-back conversation of many office workers on a Friday afternoon.  Just goofing off and waiting for quitting time.  Even I, a noted workaholic, am susceptible to it on occasion.  Our talk continued when the phone rang.  I answered it in a casual tone since I expected it to be nothing more than the average request for information from somebody or another.

 

“Hello, this is Gloria Jackson,” I heard through my Bluetooth headset.  I nearly sprang out of my chair.  My coworker scooted away from me slightly to give me room.  Having overheard my call with the deputy chief, he knew what was happening.  I vaguely remember him telling the former branch chief about it ask I answered Mrs. Jackson.

 

She was alive and well.  She had a different address and phone number, but she had finally been found.  The deputy chief had left his card with a message at her house and a friend had contacted her.  She had taken a break from work and called me right away.  Count your minor miracles.

 

Mrs. Jackson asked who I was, why I was looking for her, and what it had to do with her husband.  I explained it all.  Amazingly, she was very much like Mrs. Fettinger in her response.  She did not know her husband had earned a pension and also did not know about the survivor benefit.  She was skeptical. That much was obvious. Maybe I was a scam artist, she may have thought. I tried to talk her through her suspicion. I couldn’t let this small victory slip away. She finally agreed to meet me but only in a public place.  I said she could choose any location she liked.  She suggested the station where the deputy chief worked.  I agreed instantly and arranged a time (I was two hours away and need time to get there).  I then called the deputy chief who readily acquiesced to my request to use his facility.

 

I was practically shooed out of the office by all of my coworkers.  They were quite familiar with my obsession with this project.  I have practically a full mobile office in my vehicle; a printer, office supplies, et cetera.  All I had to do was pop my work laptop off its docking station and throw it in its travel bag.  After topping off the gas tank, I was on the way.

 

I began to think about the implications of what I was about to do.  Not the meeting of a retiree or a spouse outside of the office.  I actually do this with quite a bit of regularity (call it part of the obsession).  I realized as I drove that I had more to do than a simple survivor annuity application.  I had to deal with bureaucratic annoyances galore, as well.

 

For example, since this request for a survivor annuity was nine years after the death of the retiree, Army Human Resources Command definitely was going to reject it.  They do this automatically for any survivor request more than six years old. This is in accordance with a law called the Barring Act which disallows back payment of government obligations older than six years. I had to prepare an appeal to the Army Board for the Correction of Military Records.  They were the only entity with the authority to overturn the rejection.  Even if the board agreed with the appeal, they still have the obstacle of the Barring Act.  I had learned a year and a half ago from a person at DFAS that a waiver can be obtained for this limitation (up to $25,000).  I would have to write the request for a waiver, as well.

 

I know all of this sounds like the whining of a soft-handed office worker. Well, I wasn’t always an office guy.  I was a real soldier once and the loyalties you develop don’t wither away rapidly. We are talking about the welfare of a military family member, by the way.  I experienced the same necessity to help her that I did when I lost friends while overseas, an overwhelming compulsion to do whatever must be done for the families of the fallen.  This wasn’t just another task for a desk monkey.  It was a mission to help someone in need.

 

I had just developed my plan and was almost at the police station when I received another call from Mrs. Jackson.  She was going to be an hour late because she still needed to find some of her husband’s records (I had asked her to bring whatever she could find).  This was actually a good sign for me.  It would give me time to prepare all the items I would need to assist her to the fullest.

 

I arrived at the station and set up my equipment.  The deputy chief had assigned another policeman to escort me (he had texted me saying he couldn’t be there because his wife would have his hide if he didn’t get home soon).  The officer who met me was a member of the Air National Guard and was completely sympathetic to my mission.  As with any two service members when they get together, we shot the bull for a while.  Finally, though, I had to get to work.  Mrs. Jackson would be there soon.

 

And she was.  I had only been working for about half an hour when she showed up early (well, earlier than our new meeting time).  She was already in tears.  It was her husband’s birthday.  She told us as she entered the conference room that she had imagined I was actually there to tell her he was actually alive.  Oh, how I wish I had that kind of news for her.  Instead, I was only there to tell her about service benefits and money.  How that pales compared to the loss of a loved one.

 

Mrs. Jackson and I did nothing but talk for an hour.  She would reminisce about her husband and I would just listen. Occasionally, I would ask a question.  Sometimes it was something I needed to know for one of the many packets and sometimes it was just conversational. I was reminded that she was ten years younger than her husband and learned also that she was working full-time to support herself. After a while, we slowly got to the business of our meeting.

 

I started by showing her the amount of the survivor annuity.  I apologized for the fact it would only be $334 per month.  She stated that paltry sum would make a great difference in her life.  That is when I learned that her take home pay from her job was only $1,500 per month.  I then showed her the first six years of back pay she could expect once we got everything fixed up: $24,400.  If the waiver to the Barring Act was granted, there would be another $10,000.  That is a total of over $34,000.  Her eyes became misty at that point.  Admittedly, I became the same upon seeing her reaction.

 

I asked if she was paying a premium for employer-provided health insurance.  She said yes.  I brought up the Tricare coverage she had actually had available since her husband’s sixtieth birthday (she never knew).  She started to cry in earnest now.  “I didn’t know he did all this for me,” she said.  The policeman accompanying use gave of a tissue for her tears.

 

We talked some more.  During the chat, she mentioned that her husband had served in Vietnam.  I perked up again and asked to see the DD 214 from his Vietnam service.  She showed it to me. I asked if her husband’s death was somehow related to this service. As we discussed it, I decided it just might be.  Things had just improved for her yet again.

 

You see, there is a stipend from the Veterans Administration called Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (or DIC).  It is a monthly amount of $1,257.95 which is paid to spouses of members who die from service-connected causes.  Now it does offset the survivor annuity dollar for dollar which means it would completely wipe out the $334 per month.  However, there is another type of payment called the Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance (SSIA) which is added to whatever remains of annuity (if any) and to the DIC.  It would be another $310 per month (this allowance is currently set to expire on 30 September 2017 unless it is extended by Congress).  I then made an appointment for her to meet with a Veteran Services Officer (VSO) in my area who could help her apply for DIC.  I thought it was worth the effort.  $1,567.95 per month beats $334 no matter what type of math you’re using.

 

I finally told Mrs. Jackson about all of the bureaucratic hoops through which we’d have to jump in order to get all of this arranged for her but added that the chances were excellent. She admitted that everything seemed quite surreal to her and stated that it was as if her husband were still watching over her.  The officer seconded that thought.  We signed everything and chatted some more. I then saw Mrs. Jackson to the door and promised to meet her again when she came to see the VSO (as of this writing, the meeting has not yet occurred). I also thanked the police officer for sticking with us through the entire three-hour meeting.

 

Overall, it was a good night.  I desperately wanted a cigar and a glass of scotch by the time I got back to my apartment, though.  I was exhausted but hopeful for Mrs. Jackson.  Here’s hoping that it all works out positively for her.

 

*****

 

Thank you for joining me in the recounting of this story. I believe it is quite uplifting when all is said. It’s incredible that I have done my best to summarize this event and it has still amounted to five pages of written material.  Who knows what it will be when I actually post it to my blog.

 

I ask that you spread the word about this event.  Who knows how many other service members and their families are experiences similar circumstances.  I hope the other retirement services officers out there will be willing to replicate our efforts.  The results are invigorating to say the least.

 

I also ask that you spread this article around.  This is the kind of thing that people need to know.  They need to know about the efforts the RSOs are making. They need to know the effects this has on military families.  If you’ll do that for me I will greatly appreciate it.

 

Next week, we’ll get back to our usual business of explaining service benefits.  Until then, thank you for joining me and thank you for your service.

 

D.J.


Podcast Episode 0021 – Mrs. Gloria Jackson – An Introduction to the Fettinger Project

Let’s hear a good news story this week.