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


Beware the IDES of Medical Boards…?

This week we’re going to talk about a very confusing topic.  For this reason, I’m going to break this into several pieces so it’s – hopefully – easier to understand.  I’m going to talk about the Integrated Disability Evaluation System or, at least as we call it in the Army, IDES (pronounced eye-dez).

By the way, don’t be afraid of the title of this article.  I chose that name simply as a play on “Beware the ides of March” from Richard Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.  You shouldn’t be afraid of IDES and medical boards.  You should understand it and know how to use it to benefit you.  I hope to help you do this.

I will confess to a bit of insider knowledge on a lot of what I’m about to mention because I’m currently going through IDES myself.  Anyway, IDES is the series of medical boards you go through when you have medical problems which just won’t heal (like for more than twelve months).  Of course, the military would like for you to recover and continue to be an asset.  If this just isn’t going to happen, these medical boards may be the best option for you.  Don’t be afraid of them.  Even though separation and / or retirement is a possibility, there is still the chance of being determined to be fit for duty and continuing service.  If this continued service is not what happens for you, there are other ways to continue service if you choose to do so.

Let’s describe what happens when you start the down the path of the Integrated Disability Evaluation System.  First of all, integrated what?  Very simple.  IDES is a joint evaluation by both your branch of service and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  This means you walk away with disability ratings from both agencies when you are finished.  These ratings are independent of each other; by that I mean each agency has its own standards for determining a rating.

As an example of what I mean by independent standards, your branch of service is concerned about the medical issues which inhibit you from performing your military duties and whether or not the injuries were caused by your military service.  Let’s say you’re an infantryman who has back issues which make it very painful for you to wear a rucksack and conduct a road march.  This would be quite a problem for an infantryman but might not be as important if you’re an office worker.  The VA would rate your disability either way but your branch of service (BOS) will only look at whether or not you can still do your job (including fitness tests and height / weight standards, of course).  The ratings from these two agencies can vary considerably as a result.  Just a while ago, in fact, I had one person talking to me who had a forty percent rating from the Army but a ninety percent rating from the VA.

Treatment and Referral
Anyway, you have at this point suffered through your medical issues and finally informed your BOS of them.  The BOS has conducted what is called a fit-for-duty board and determined that you are unfit for continued service.  You will receive at this point a letter called a Medical Retention Decision Point (MRDP) memo.  This letter will inform you of your status and give you three options.  Those options are:

  1. Separation from the military.
  2. Retirement or transfer to the Retired Reserve (if eligible).
  3. Requesting evaluation by IDES.

You will then have a set amount of time to make a choice from the options shown above.

 

But, DJ, what is the best choice for me?

This is something only you can determine.  Naturally, you can seek advice from retirement services officers and other professionals but you will ultimate have to be the one to decide.  In my experience, many service members have benefitted from going through IDES. There have been just as many whose injuries were not duty-related (not caused by military service) and would not benefit from IDES at all.

Claim Development

Now you have chosen to dive into IDES.  You should request this through your chain of command and begin to prepare by requesting all of your medical records.  When I say all, I do mean ALL of them and from all sources.  Since the VA is going to look at everything you give them, it is best to have it readily available.  Your BOS will want to see just those records which pertain to your service-connected injuries.  You may need to hand carry your records to your first meeting with your case manager.

Everyone is assigned a case manager called a Physical Evaluation Board Liaison Officer (PEBLO).  This person is the link between you, your commander, and the IDES. Your PEBLO will be responsible for the military side of things and will counsel you on expectations and benefits as you travel down this path.  You will also be assigned a Military Service Coordinator (MSC) who will be responsible for the VA side of things (more on him in a moment).

Note: I recommend verifying what you are told by a PEBLO with a retirement services officer.  In my experience, PEBLOs have given “hit-or-miss” advice to service members.  This is not to bash them.  Often they are active duty-centric and as a result of their lacking sufficient experience with reserve component members end up giving them mediocre or even incorrect advice.  MSCs can have this same problem (such as the one who spoke with me; it was obvious he was talking from an active duty standpoint and counsel which would be correct for someone on active duty but incorrect for a reservist).  Again, I’m not trying to flame these people.  I’m just telling you to seek additional information.

Your PEBLO will give you an initial counseling of what to expect from IDES and assist you in completing a list of all medical issues which limit or prevent you from completing your military duties.  You will then be referred to your Military Service Coordinator.  By the way, neither of these people are employees of the IDES.  They are employees of the Military Treatment Facility (in the case of the PEBLO) and the VA (for the MSC).

The MSC will talk to you about the VA examinations and will compile a list of ALL of the issues you may have (or wish to claim) which have been caused by or exacerbated by your service.  Your PEBLO and MSC will then coordinate all of the specialist examinations you will need for the next phase of IDES.

Medical Evaluation

You will now be evaluated by physicians and specialists to determine the extent of your injuries (this includes mental conditions, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, as well). You are expected to make all of your appointments without fail.  Your chain of command will be notified if you do not show up to an appointment.

Expect this phase to take a month or two to complete.  Don’t get frustrated by the timeline.  Also remember that results of these exams will be provided to both your BOS and to the VA for independent ratings evaluation.

Medical Evaluation Board

Your documentation and exam results will now be reviewed by at least two physicians who will determine if you are fit to return to duty or if you do not meet medical retention standards.  If you do not, you will be referred to the next stage, the Physical Evaluation Board.

The Informal Physical Evaluation Board

This panel is made up of a three-member board of officers and civilians (often with military experience) and a civilian physician. PEBs involving reservists will have a reserve component member on the board.  The PEB will develop written justification supporting each injury you have sustained as far as whether it is preventing you from performing your military duties and whether it was sustained in a combat zone (which is important in a variety of ways).  If your conditions existed prior to your military service, they will also determine whether it was exacerbated (made worse) by your service.  They will decide whether the condition is permanent or temporary.  Lastly, they will determine whether a disability rating is warranted for that injury.

Remember that IDES is a performance-based review.  It is concerned with your ability to do your job and not – as is so often said by barracks lawyers – whether you are deployable or not (though that could be a factor for some specialties like infantry).

The Combined Disability Rating

At the end of this evaluation, the PEB will determine your combined disability rating.  What is this, you may ask?  It is the total amount of disability based on your injuries.  This is not simply adding up your ratings, though.  For example, if you have three ratings, 50%, another 50%, and 30%, you do not have a combined rating of 130 percent.  How does a combined rating work, then?  Look at this (and this description applies to both the DOD and the VA).

First, assume you originally had a 100% capable body. Now take your highest rating (in this case, either of the 50% ratings) and subtract it from the 100% capable body.  You now have 50% of a “good body” left.  Now take the next rating (50% again, in this case) and apply it to what is left over.  Fifty percent of a 50% capable body is 25 percent.  This leaves a 25% capable body remaining.  We now apply the lowest rating (30%) to the 25% capable body. Thirty percent of 25% is 7.5 percent.  This is subtracted from the remaining 25% and leaves us with 17.5% of a capable body left or, to put it more simply, an 82.5% disability rating.  This rating is then rounded to the nearest ten percent (in this case, 80%) and gives us our final disability rating.

If that doesn’t make sense to you at first, try rereading that last paragraph.  I will also include a visual description of this in the Resources section of this article.  It usually helps people understand the math a little better.

Transition Phase

You now have a final combined disability rating.  If that rating is less than 30% and you have less than twenty qualifying years of service (remember we’re just talking about reservists here) then you will be offered a severance package (two months of base pay times your years of equivalent active duty service (retirement points divided by 360)) and separated from service.  If you have a 30% rating or higher, you will be medically retired and begin receiving retired pay and benefits immediately.

Remember last week when I said not to be afraid of medical disqualification if you have at least fifteen qualifying years of service?  This is one of the time in which this fact becomes very important.  If you have a rating of less than 30% and have at least fifteen qualifying years, you should not accept the severance when it is offered.  You should refuse it and request transfer to the Retired Reserve.  Your branch of service will be notified of your disqualification and years of service and will then issue you an early notice of eligibility (NOE) for retired pay (which has the same effect as if you had twenty years of service and received a twenty-year letter).  Often, we call this early NOE a fifteen-year letter (even if you have sixteen or even nineteen years of service).  The fifteen-year letter will prove your eligibility for retired pay and benefits at age sixty (or earlier if you have qualifying active duty service).  If you take the severance pay (and I’ll go deeper into this topic in another article) then you lose all of the benefits you have earned.  If you have medical issues, please either get fixed or go through IDES and retire.  It’s the best thing over continuing to hurt yourself through the ardors of military service.

If you disagree with the findings of the MEB or PEB, you do have the right to appeal.  Don’t think you are without options.  There is an entire section of military lawyers who specialize in assisting soldiers going through IDES.  Use them if you think you need them.

So how long does all of this actually take?  The goal for reservists is 305 days; the goal for active duty soldiers is 295 days.  Every case is different though so this can be longer or shorter based on your circumstances.

There is one more option available to you.  If you wish to only be evaluated by the military (and not by the VA), you can choose to go through the Legacy Disability Evaluation System or LDES (pronounced El-Dez).  This can be a much shorter evaluation but it can also reduce the total benefits for which you may be eligible.  Keep that in mind as you make your decision.

I have greatly simplified things in this article (and it’s still very long).  I will go into other factors as this series progresses.

If you think this information is useful, please share it with others.  I also would be interested in your comments (good and bad) and questions.  The more I hear from you, the better I can make these articles and other content.

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

D.J.

References:

Related YouTube Episodes:
The Basics of Reserve Retirement
Help, I Need My Records. Where is My DD 214?
Should I Take Drill Pay or VA Compensation?
How to Read an Army National Guard Retirement Points Statement
How to Read an Army Reserve Points Statement
How to Read an Air Force Reserve / Air National Guard Points Statement
How to Read a Navy Reserve Points Statement
How to Read a Marine Corps Reserve Points Statement
How to Read a Coast Guard Reserve Points Statement
Final Pay vs High-3
I’m Medically Unfit for Retention. Now What?

Related Podcast Episodes:
Help, I Need My Records. Where is My DD 214?
Should I Take Drill Pay or VA Compensation?
How to Read an Army National Guard Retirement Points Statement
How to Read an Army Reserve Points Statement
How to Read an Air Force Reserve / Air National Guard Points Statement
How to Read a Navy Reserve Points Statement
How to Read a Marine Corps Reserve Points Statement
How to Read a Coast Guard Reserve Points Statement
Final Pay vs High-3
I’m Medically Unfit for Retention. Now What?

Related Articles:
Help, I Need My Records. Where is My DD 214?
Should I Take Drill Pay or VA Compensation?
How to Read an Army National Guard Retirement Points Statement
How to Read an Army Reserve Points Statement
How to Read an Air Force Reserve / Air National Guard Points Statement
How to Read a Navy Reserve Points Statement
How to Read a Marine Corps Reserve Points Statement
How to Read a Coast Guard Reserve Points Statement
I’m Medically Unfit for Retention. Now What?


Podcast Episode 0040 – Beware the IDES of Medical Boards…?

References:

Related YouTube Episodes:
The Basics of Reserve Retirement
Help, I Need My Records. Where is My DD 214?
Should I Take Drill Pay or VA Compensation?
How to Read an Army National Guard Retirement Points Statement
How to Read an Army Reserve Points Statement
How to Read an Air Force Reserve / Air National Guard Points Statement
How to Read a Navy Reserve Points Statement
How to Read a Marine Corps Reserve Points Statement
How to Read a Coast Guard Reserve Points Statement
Final Pay vs High-3
I’m Medically Unfit for Retention. Now What?

Related Podcast Episodes:
Help, I Need My Records. Where is My DD 214?
Should I Take Drill Pay or VA Compensation?
How to Read an Army National Guard Retirement Points Statement
How to Read an Army Reserve Points Statement
How to Read an Air Force Reserve / Air National Guard Points Statement
How to Read a Navy Reserve Points Statement
How to Read a Marine Corps Reserve Points Statement
How to Read a Coast Guard Reserve Points Statement
Final Pay vs High-3
I’m Medically Unfit for Retention. Now What?

Related Articles:
Help, I Need My Records. Where is My DD 214?
Should I Take Drill Pay or VA Compensation?
How to Read an Army National Guard Retirement Points Statement
How to Read an Army Reserve Points Statement
How to Read an Air Force Reserve / Air National Guard Points Statement
How to Read a Navy Reserve Points Statement
How to Read a Marine Corps Reserve Points Statement
How to Read a Coast Guard Reserve Points Statement
I’m Medically Unfit for Retention. Now What?