Combat-Related Special Compensation; Should You Apply? YES.

Combat-Related Special Compensation; Should You Apply? YES.

Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) is one of two forms of concurrent receipt. Concurrent Receipt allows military retirees to receive both their retired pay and VA disability compensation concurrently without a reduction in your retired pay amount. The other form is Concurrent Retirement and Disability Pay (CRDP). I want to focus on CRSC this month but I have to get CRDP out of the way first.

CRDP is easy; you either get it or you don’t. It allows you to collect your full retired pay rather than have retired pay offset by the VA Waiver. The VA Waiver is when you waive your retired pay to receive VA disability compensation. So CRDP is the elimination of the VA Waiver from retired pay. If you receive VA compensation and retired pay with no VA Waiver, you have CRDP. CRDP requires a 20-year or more career and a VA rating of 50% or greater. It is automatically applied by DFAS if you qualify.

CRDP only covers about a third of the retirees with VA compensation. The other two-thirds have to rely on CRSC.

CRSC is available for retirees with any amount of service years and with any VA rating. The catch is, the nature of your VA illnesses or disabilities must be combat-related.

Apply for CRSC regardless of your situation; even if you already have CRDP. The definition of “combat-related” has some flexibility. Only your Service can determine whether you qualify. You only stand to gain; you have nothing to lose by applying. Your Service notifies DFAS if you are awarded CRSC.

If you already receive CRDP and are awarded CRSC, DFAS conducts a review to determine which benefit provides the greater amount and pays you the better benefit. Every year in December, for retirees who qualify for both CRSC and CRDP, you are notified of the concurrent receipt open season and you select which version you prefer. This is to provide options in case VA or CRSC ratings change.

CRSC ratings are based specifically on combat-related issues. VA ratings are based on all Service-connected and employment issues. This difference means CRSC ratings can be lower than VA ratings. Therefore, it is possible your CRSC compensation will not fully reimburse you for the amount of your VA Waiver. But some reimbursement is better than nothing and the CRSC is tax-free.

CRDP eliminates the VA Waiver in your retired pay. Under CRSC, the VA Waiver remains in your retired pay and you get a separate CRSC check to reimburse you for the VA Waiver amount (or part of it). Web search your Service and CRSC for application instructions and forms.

About the Author

Lt. Col. Shane Ostrom, USAF (Ret), CFP®
Lt. Col. Shane Ostrom, USAF (Ret), CFP®

Ostrom is MOAA's former Program Director, Financial & Benefits Education/Counseling