Multiple pieces of legislation have been introduced this session to address one of MOAA's key advocacy issues - retirees who are forced to relinquish all or a portion of their retirement pay to receive VA disability compensation. MOAA needs your support to get the House and Senate to make these bills a priority.
MOAA and other advocacy groups have long targeted members of this group and have since 2001 expanded the pool of retirees who are eligible to receive full DoD retirement and VA disability benefits. Current law exempts combat-injured retirees from the offset, for example, as well as those who served more than 20 years and have a disability rating of 50 percent or higher.
That still leaves several groups of veterans who must part with their earned retirement benefit, dollar for dollar, to receive VA compensation. These bills seek to right that wrong:
- The Disabled Veterans Tax Termination Act (H.R. 333), introduced by Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.), addresses retirees with more than 20 years of service and disability ratings of 40 percent or lower, as well as medical retirees with less than 20 years of service - so-called “Chapter 61 retirees.”
- The Retired Pay Restoration Act (H.R. 303), introduced by Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.), would eliminate the offset for 20-year retirees with disability ratings at 40 percent or lower, but would not address those with less than 20 years in uniform.
- The Senate version of the Retired Pay Restoration Act (S. 208), introduced by Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), uses slightly different language to achieve the same ends as the House version with the same name.
Why Back All the Bills?
MOAA supports all three pieces of legislation, and continues to support any effort that would address any group of veterans suffering from this unfair system, which has its roots in 19th-century veterans legislation.
“The reality is, we have to trust these legislators and their strategy to gain approval for full removal of the offset,” said Col. Dan Merry, USAF (Ret), MOAA's vice president of government relations. “We're seeking the restoration of earned benefits, and not on the backs of other beneficiaries. All of these bills in the aggregate achieve that end, and we'll keep fighting until all retirees receive both their service-earned retirement pay from DoD and their Disability Compensation from the VA.”
MOAA President and CEO Lt. Gen. Dana T. Atkins, USAF (Ret), offered similar guidance in a letter to Tester and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), an original co-sponsor of S. 208.
“Expanding eligibility for concurrent receipt of earned retirement and disability compensation is an issue of great importance to our members,” Atkins wrote. “MOAA supports any effort to secure concurrent payment of retirement pay and disability compensation for our disabled servicemen and women, such as the Retired Pay Restoration Act. … Although I know that full resolution to issues of concurrent receipt may not be achieved by any single bill, I look forward to working alongside you and others in Congress to provide further relief by securing concurrent receipt for all disabled veterans who have lost their retirement benefits.”