The Military Coalition Keeps Up the Fire on Concurrent Receipt

The Military Coalition Keeps Up the Fire on Concurrent Receipt
Maj. Richard Star, USA (Ret), and wife Tonya listen to Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.) speak during a March 3 press conference in support of H.R. 5995, the Major Richard Star Act. (Jennifer Milbrett for MOAA)

The Military Coalition (TMC), a group of military and veteran service organizations representing a combined 5.5 million-plus membership, recently signed two important letters of support in the fight for concurrent receipt.

 

MOAA, a co-chair of the 34-member TMC, already has expressed its support for both measures:  

  • H.R. 333, the Disabled Veterans Tax Termination Act, is sponsored by Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.) and essentially aims to fix the financial injustice of concurrent receipt for all retired personnel. It is a “Hail Mary” pass worth your support, addressing the unjust offset in one large piece of legislation with a price tag over $30 billion over 10 years.

 

[Read The Military Coalition’s Letter | Show Your Support for H.R. 333]

 

  • H.R. 5995, the Major Richard Star Act, is sponsored by Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.) and is smaller (estimated at $2 billion over 10 years). The bill and its Senate companion, S. 3393, offer an incremental approach for concurrent receipt and initially address those forced to medically retire from a combat injury.

 

[Read The Military Coalition’s Letter | Show Your Support for H.R. 5995/S. 3393]

 

Parallel TMC efforts on these bills are critical to making long-overdue progress on concurrent receipt; the last progress on the issue was over a decade ago. The incremental approach of the Star Act presents a partial solution for concurrent receipt at a reduced cost, offering up categories into bite-size bills with each category serving as a milestone to reaching total repeal, a goal shared by MOAA and the TMC.

 

Each milestone makes the next one less costly and more likely for inclusion into the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and puts us on the path for concurrent receipt for all.  While MOAA prefers concurrent receipt for all, the incremental approach affords the opportunity for a partial success, so we come away with one victory and a reduced cost for the next victories.

 

[RELATED: Bill Would Restore Disabled Vets With Their ‘Unjustly Denied’ Benefit]

 

The Road Map to Concurrent Receipt

The incremental approach to concurrent receipt is really five milestones, each providing relief for a different group of veterans:

  1. Those who retire with a 50% VA disability rating or higher. This was achieved in 2004.
  2. Those forced to medically retire because they were hurt in combat. This would be addressed by H.R. 5995 and S. 3393.
  3. Those forced to medically retire because they were hurt on duty in non-combat incidents.
  4. Those who retire with 40% VA disability ratings.
  5. Those who retire with 30% VA disability ratings.

 

Applying Lessons Learned

The repeal of the “widows tax” was a hard-fought victory for MOAA last year. Keys to that victory were compelling stories combined with the unified advocacy efforts of the 34 TMC organizations. Throughout the NDAA process, there were many elected officials who signed up to fully support repeal of the widows tax but warned the $5.7 billion price tag did not have funding and would therefore be unattainable. It was the overwhelmingly long list of co-sponsors that successfully convinced Congress to finally waive the “pay for” rule and move forward with the repeal. 

 

Ask your representative to support both H.R. 333 and H.R. 5995, and please add your compelling story to the “Call To Action” message. We additionally ask you to call your representative. Recent MOAA analysis indicates that in the current environment, a phone call followed up with an e-mail makes the greatest impact when an in-person visit is not possible.

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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.