August Recess Is No Time to Take a Break on Concurrent Receipt

August Recess Is No Time to Take a Break on Concurrent Receipt
Maj. Richard Star, USAR, poses during a deployment to Iraq. Star died Feb. 13 after battling lung cancer; a bill to provide concurrent receipt for some veterans bears his name. (Courtesy photo)

Although your representative and senators are home on recess, this is no time to take a break in seeking their support on progress toward concurrent receipt.


The Major Richard Star Act has the support of 52 senators and 116 House members. When Congress returns to work, these lawmakers must complete the FY 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) – the traditional vehicle for progress on concurrent receipt. Pieces of legislation such as the Star Act will be proposed as amendments to the NDAA; increased support for the bill, especially in the House, is crucial to secure a win on the concurrent receipt problem.


[TAKE ACTION: Ask Your Lawmakers to Support the Major Richard Star Act]


This effort is timely as the news is replete with tragedies in Afghanistan, leaving many veterans thinking of the sacrifices and those we have lost. Servicemembers forced to retire because they were injured in combat – like Maj. Richard Star, USAR, who passed away earlier this year – had their retirement pay reduced for every dollar of VA disability compensation they were awarded. It is an acknowledged injustice and a painful reminder of this generation’s “long war” along with the injustices many from the Vietnam era still endure.


[CONCURRENT RECEIPT UPDATE: Learn More About MOAA’s Push to End This Unjust Offset]


What Is the Concurrent Receipt Problem?

Retired pay is for vested years of service paid by DoD, while disability compensation is for lifelong injury paid by the VA. To reduce retirement pay because of a disability is an injustice. Title 10 of the U.S. Code requires a reduction, referred to as an offset, in retirement pay for every dollar of disability received. This cost-saving measure is borne on the back of retirees.


In 2004, MOAA and The Military Coalition (TMC), a group of organizations representing a combined 5.5 million members of the military community, secured concurrent receipt for retirees who served at least 20 years and have a VA disability rating at 50% or higher. Left behind after that 2004 change are those 20-year retirees with a 40% disability rating and below, and those who were medically retired under Chapter 61 with less than 20 years of service. 


Previous efforts and advocacy opportunities have not moved us any closer to full concurrent receipt for all those with 40% disability and below and those forced to medically retire before reaching 20 years under Chapter 61. The total cost to fix concurrent receipt is estimated at $33 billion over 10 years; that is why incremental progress is necessary. 


[RELATED: MOAA's Concurrent Receipt Resources and Updates]


What Is the Star Act?

H.R. 1282/S. 344 would authorize concurrent receipt of retirement pay and VA disability for those forced to retire from injury or illness in a combat zone under Chapter 61. According to the DoD actuary, the number of combat related Chapter 61 Retirees as of Sept. 30, 2020, is 48,193.


It is a small segment of the larger population of retirees still waiting on concurrent receipt and targeted to make incremental progress.


Constituents Matter

Continued engagement from constituents is still necessary to gain co-sponsors for the Star Act. Numbers of co-sponsors matter: Ask your lawmaker to join their ranks, even if he or she doesn’t serve on the House or Senate Armed Services committees.


And don’t just send an email: Call (866) 272-MOAA (6622), MOAA's toll-free line to the U.S. Capitol switchboard, to be connected with your legislators' offices.


There are still many lawmakers who would support this legislation if they heard from constituents. Click the links to see whether your senators or your House members support this legislation.


Sometimes it can take multiple engagements to get through to the correct staff member. Multiple forms of communication can make a real difference: Consider sending a copy of your correspondence to the Armed Services Committee leadership in both chambers, as well (House | Senate).


MOAA and The Military Coalition will continue to advocate for incremental progress on concurrent receipt. Email if you need assistance setting up a virtual meeting with your lawmaker.


MOAA Looks Out For You

MOAA is committed to protecting the rights of servicemembers and their families. Lend your voice and support these efforts today. Because the larger our voice is, the greater our impact will be.


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.