MOAA Answers Your Questions About Concurrent Receipt

MOAA Answers Your Questions About Concurrent Receipt
Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.), first row, third from left, is joined by Tanya and Maj. Richard Star, USAR, center, at a March 3 press conference in support of H.R. 5995, the Major Richard Star Act. (Jennifer Milbrett for MOAA)

Note from MOAA: Below, you'll find answers to some frequently asked questions about concurrent receipt, Chapter 61 military retirees, and MOAA's advocacy work on this critical issue. For more information, including the latest on advocacy efforts, visit MOAA's Concurrent Receipt Resources and Advocacy Updates page. Click here to take action now.

 

Q. What is concurrent receipt?

 

A. Concurrent receipt refers to when a military retiree receives both retired pay and disability pay. Retired pay is for service and paid for by DoD, while disability pay compensates for injury and is paid by the VA. Current law requires a reduction, referred to as an offset, in retirement pay for every dollar of disability received.

 

The concurrent receipt problem is an acknowledged injustice. The 2003 National Defense Authorization Act granted concurrent receipt for those with 50% or greater disability. Those with 40% VA disability and below and Chapter 61 retirees receive a reduced retirement payment. Many in this group see this as an unjust cost-saving measure that forces retirees to fund their VA disability with their earned retirement pay.

 

 

Q. What is Chapter 61?

 

A. Chapter 61 veterans are military retirees who were forced to retire from military service before reaching 20 years in service. The term “Chapter 61” refers to the chapter of the United States Code that defines the categories of medical separation and retirement from military service. There are approximately 210,000 Chapter 61 retirees, and 42,000 of them receive Combat Related Special Compensation (CRSC).

 

Q. Doesn’t CRSC take care of all the combat-related Chapter 61 retirees?

 

A. For junior servicemembers forced to medically retire, CRSC may cover the entire offset, but for those with longevity, CRSC does not cover the loss.

 

As an example, consider an O-4 (Army/Marine/Air Force major, or Navy lieutenant commander) injured in combat and forced to medically retire at 14 years of service with a 100% VA disability.

  • Under current law, that officer would receive $1,855 in CRSC and net pay along with $3,106 in VA disability pay, for a total of $4,961.
  • After passage of the Major Richard Star Act, that officer would receive $2,730 in longevity pay and continue to receive $3,106 in VA disability pay, for a new total of $5,836 – an additional $875 a month.

 

[RELATED: Understanding Concurrent Receipt]

 

Q. Does MOAA support concurrent receipt for all?

 

A. MOAA is dedicated to keep up the efforts to achieve concurrent receipt for all and has supported larger bills such as H.R. 333 and H.R. 303. The cost of these larger bills is the obstacle to progress on concurrent receipt and one reason there has been little progress in over a decade. An incremental approach that breaks up the categories of concurrent receipt into smaller, less costly objectives has the potential to garner multiple small victories en route to concurrent receipt for all.  

 

Q. Who does the Major Richard Star Act actually help? 

 

A. The Major Richard Star Act, H.R. 5995 (companion bill: S. 3393), will provide concurrent receipt for approximately 42,000 combat related Chapter 61 retirees. It is part of an incremental progress strategy to achieve concurrent receipt for all, setting the conditions for achieving follow-on objectives that chip away at the larger objective.

 

[TAKE ACTION: Support the Inclusion of Concurrent VA Disability Pay and Retired Pay for Combat-Related Retirees in the FY 2021 NDAA]

Q. I have a 40% disability rating. How does the Star Act help me?

 

A. After over a decade of no progress on concurrent receipt, achieving a small victory with the Star Act can place us on the path to subsequent concurrent receipt objectives, such as those with 40% disability.

 

Q. Why doesn’t MOAA just support the larger legislation for concurrent receipt?

 

A. We do advocate for legislation that would achieve concurrent receipt for all in one comprehensive action. Unfortunately, that approach has not yielded progress, and in a parallel effort, the incremental approach is promising. 

 

 

Q. Who is against concurrent receipt?

 

A. The “pay for” or “pay go” rule requires elected officials to identify how they will pay for legislation before endorsement. There is currently no identified “pay for” the Star Act.

 

Q. Can the Military Retirement Trust Fund pay for concurrent receipt?

 

A. MOAA does not advocate for a “pay for” because only legislators and professional staff members have the visibility on funding options. We believe the costs should be borne by all Americans, not just targeted to other beneficiaries through offsets or reductions in their own service-earned benefits.

 

Q. Why can’t MOAA go directly to the president?

 

A. Although MOAA does have the ability to send correspondence to the president, the vehicle for addressing concurrent receipt is the National Defense Authorization Act, which is crafted by Congress.

 

Q. How can I find out if my senators/representatives support concurrent receipt?

 

A. Congress.gov lists the co-sponsors of H.R. 5995 and S. 3393.

 

Q. I noticed that the concurrent receipt issue is still a top priority this year for MOAA. With the coronavirus in full swing, do you think that could cause unforeseen issues with the momentum for that bill to pass? 

 

A. There is an increasing concern by lawmakers regarding the deficit after the recent stimulus packages. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the environment, but many lawmakers acknowledge that our veteran population is particularly at risk in a volatile job market and still have an appetite to support concurrent receipt.

 

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About the Author

Lt. Col. Mark Belinsky, USA (Ret)
Lt. Col. Mark Belinsky, USA (Ret)

Belinsky retired in 2019 after serving 22 years, with overseas tours to Afghanistan, Iraq, the Republic of Korea, and Germany. He joined the MOAA team in 2019 as director, currently serving and retired affairs.