Navigating the world of veteran benefits can be a complex task, but it’s crucial to know about the options available for you.
One such option is the Combat Related Special Compensation (CRSC). Before we delve into the details of CRSC, let’s look at the bigger picture.
As a veteran, you might be receiving compensation from the Department of Defense (DoD) or the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), depending on the circumstances of your service and health conditions.
However, it’s important to note that, by law, you typically can’t receive compensation from both of these sources at the same time.
For example, if you receive VA disability compensation, it’s generally subtracted from your DoD retirement pay.
Despite this rule, there are two notable exceptions where dual compensation is allowed, which means you can receive benefits from both the DoD and VA.
- Combat Related Special Compensation (CRSC) – the focus of this article.
- Concurrent Retirement and Disability Payments (CRDP) – this is for those with a VA rating of 50% or more.
These exceptions were created to provide additional support to veterans with significant disabilities, with CRSC being specifically designed to help those with combat-related injuries.
So, while navigating the sea of acronyms and regulations might seem overwhelming, know that these programs were established with your welfare in mind.
Keep reading to understand more about the CRSC, including what it is, who’s eligible, how it compares to CRDP, and how to apply for it.
We’ll also discuss what you can do if your claim is denied and address some frequently asked questions.
What is CRSC?
Combat Related Special Compensation (CRSC) is a program designed to provide additional financial support to military retirees who have suffered disabilities related to combat.
CRSC is a crucial benefit for many veterans as it allows them to receive both military retirement pay from the Department of Defense (DoD) and disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) without any offset.
CRSC is not just another source of income but is intended to recognize the sacrifices made by those who have sustained combat-related injuries.
It ensures that veterans who have risked their lives in the line of duty are not financially penalized for their disabilities.
This compensation is paid monthly, just like your military retirement pay.
Importantly, it’s also a tax-free entitlement.
This means that you can keep the entire amount of CRSC benefits, without the need to set aside a portion for taxes.
In practical terms, this means more financial support ends up in your pocket, helping you manage the costs and challenges associated with your combat-related disabilities.
Before you can benefit from the CRSC program, there are specific eligibility requirements you must meet.
These are not only tied to your service but also to the nature of your disability and your overall VA disability rating.
Here are the main eligibility criteria:
To qualify for CRSC, you must be a military retiree.
- Veterans with 20 or more years of creditable service
- Veterans who have been retired due to medical conditions under Chapter 61
- Veterans on the Temporary Disability Retirement List (TDRL)
- Veterans who have taken the Temporary Early Retirement Authority (TERA) option, with 15 to 19 years of service
You must have a VA disability rating of 10% or higher.
The VA assigns these ratings based on the severity of your disability.
You should have a VA waiver in place, which reduces your DoD retirement pay by the amount of VA disability compensation you receive.
This step is necessary so that the VA disability payments are not offset against your military retirement pay.
Lastly, you must submit a CRSC application with proper documentation.
This includes your VA rating decision, medical records related to your disability, and other relevant service documents.
For a disability to qualify for Combat Related Special Compensation (CRSC), it must be deemed combat-related.
This term covers a wide range of situations, many of which might not seem obvious at first glance.
Let’s take a closer look at what kinds of injuries or disabilities can be considered combat-related.
- Purple Heart Recipients: If you’ve been awarded a Purple Heart, any disability you have is automatically considered combat-related. This recognition is given to those injured or killed while serving with the U.S. military.
- Instrumentality of War: Your injury or disability must have been caused by an instrument of war. This includes exposure to Agent Orange, radiation, and other hazardous materials or situations directly related to your military service.
- Armed Conflict: If your disability resulted from armed conflict, it would be considered combat-related. This doesn’t necessarily mean a formal war – any situation where you engaged with an opposing military force could qualify.
- Simulating War: Injuries or disabilities incurred during training exercises that simulate war, such as live-fire exercises or tactical training scenarios, can be considered combat-related.
- Hazardous Duties: If your disability resulted from performing hazardous duties, it could be eligible. Examples of hazardous duties might include serving as a paratrooper or handling explosive ordnance.
In addition, your injury or disability needs to be rated by the VA.
However, it does not necessarily need to be rated by the DoD.
Furthermore, secondary conditions, those caused or exacerbated by your initial combat-related injury or disability, might also qualify.
The key to understanding whether your disability is eligible for CRSC is to remember that it must be directly linked to your military service, specifically to combat or a combat-like situation.
If you’re uncertain whether your condition qualifies, it’s a good idea to seek advice from a legal or military expert.
CRSC vs CRDP
Understanding the differences between Combat Related Special Compensation (CRSC) and Concurrent Retirement and Disability Payments (CRDP) is essential for determining which benefit might be most applicable and advantageous to you.
CRDP and CRSC serve different purposes.
CRDP is designed to overcome the “VA offset” for military retirees with a combined VA disability rating of 50% or higher, allowing them to receive full DoD retirement pay and VA disability compensation concurrently.
On the other hand, CRSC is specifically for military retirees with combat-related injuries and disabilities, permitting them to receive their full DoD retirement pay alongside VA disability compensation without any offset.
CRDP is automatically given to eligible retirees, while CRSC must be applied for.
To qualify for CRDP, you must have a service-connected disability rated at least 50% by the VA, and you must also be eligible for retired pay.
CRSC, on the other hand, requires that your disability be combat-related.
It does not matter what your total VA disability rating is, as long as you have a VA disability rating of 10% or more for your combat-related condition.
Both CRDP and CRSC are tax-free benefits.
This means you won’t be taxed on the money you receive from either program.
If you qualify for both CRDP and CRSC, you can choose which benefit you receive.
However, you can’t receive both benefits at the same time.
It’s advisable to carefully consider which benefit would offer you the most financial support and suits your needs best before making your decision.
Effective Dates & Retroactive Pay
When it comes to understanding the financial aspects of Combat Related Special Compensation (CRSC), knowing about the effective dates and retroactive pay is crucial.
First, you can submit your CRSC application at any time, there is no deadline.
However, it’s important to be aware of the statute of limitations for retroactive pay, which is set at six years.
This means you can only claim retroactive pay for up to six years prior to the date you submitted your application.
In terms of retroactive benefits, if you were eligible for CRSC before June 2003, your benefits can be paid back to this date.
If you became eligible for CRSC after June 2003, then the retroactive benefits will be calculated from the effective date of when you became legally entitled to these benefits.
The effective date is generally the date when the Department of Defense (DoD) received your CRSC application or the date when you first became eligible for CRSC, whichever is later.
However, in certain cases, such as when a veteran is granted combat-related disability after retirement, the effective date may be adjusted to January 2008 or the date of retirement, whichever is later.
Remember that these dates are important because they affect the total amount of retroactive pay you could receive.
If you have been eligible for CRSC for some time and haven’t yet applied, you could be leaving substantial benefits unclaimed.
So, it’s often beneficial to apply sooner rather than later to maximize your potential retroactive pay.
Applying for CRSC
If you’re eligible for Combat Related Special Compensation (CRSC), the next step is to submit an application.
The application process is relatively straightforward but requires attention to detail to ensure all required information is provided.
To apply for CRSC, you’ll need to complete the Department of Defense Form 2860 (DD Form 2860).
This is the standard form for the CRSC application and it varies depending on your military branch.
Make sure you choose the correct version of the form for your branch.
Along with the completed application form, you’ll need to provide various supporting documents to prove your eligibility for CRSC.
These may include:
- Purple Heart orders, if applicable
- Medical records documenting your combat-related injury or disability
- VA rating decisions
- Retirement orders or statements
- Records of any hazardous duty
- Any other documents that could help establish your eligibility for CRSC.
Once you’ve filled out the form and gathered all necessary documents, the last step is to submit your application.
Instructions for mailing your application will be provided on the form itself.
Be sure to follow these instructions carefully to avoid any delays in processing your application.
Remember, attention to detail is critical when applying for CRSC.
Thoroughly complete the form and provide all necessary documents to support your claim.
If you’re unsure about any aspect of the application process, don’t hesitate to seek help.
It’s important to get it right the first time to avoid any unnecessary delays in receiving your benefits.
Appealing Denied Claims
Not all applications for Combat Related Special Compensation (CRSC) are accepted upon first submission.
If your initial claim is denied, don’t lose hope; you can request a reconsideration or appeal.
This process can help correct errors or oversights and might result in approval of your claim.
Request for Reconsideration
If your application for CRSC has been denied, the first step is to request a reconsideration.
You’ll need to submit new evidence that strengthens your claim and an explanation letter addressing the reasons for the initial denial.
Forms for Reconsideration
Depending on your branch of service, the form you need to submit for reconsideration varies:
- Army: Use CRSC Form 12e.
- Navy/Marines: Use the CRSC Reconsideration-Navy form.
- Air Force: Instructions are not typically provided on a form. Instead, call the Air Force Board for Correction of Military Records for guidance.
If your request for reconsideration is also denied, you can appeal the decision.
To do this, use DD Form 149, Application for Correction of Military Record.
This form allows you to appeal to the Board for Correction of Military Records for your respective branch of service.
When appealing a denied claim, keep in mind that clear, concise, and relevant communication is key.
Make sure you thoroughly address the reasons for denial given in your initial decision letter, and provide any additional evidence you feel strengthens your case.
Also, ensure that all forms are completed correctly and submitted to the appropriate places according to the instructions provided.
If you have been denied benefits or are attempting to increase your rating, the team at Hill & Ponton may be able to assist you.
Click the button blow to get more information.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Combat Related Special Compensation (CRSC)
Below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Combat Related Special Compensation (CRSC):
1. What is CRSC?
CRSC is a program that allows military retirees with combat-related disabilities to receive both their full military retirement pay from the Department of Defense (DoD) and their VA disability compensation without any offset.
2. Do I qualify for CRSC?
Eligibility for CRSC is dependent on several factors, including:
- 20+ years of creditable service or retirement under certain conditions
- A VA disability rating of 10% or higher
- A combat-related disability
- A VA waiver reducing DoD pay
You must also submit a CRSC application with proper documentation.
3. Why can’t I get full DoD and VA benefits?
By law, military retirees can only receive compensation from either the DoD or VA, not both.
Any VA disability compensation is subtracted from DoD retirement pay.
However, there are exceptions like CRSC and CRDP where dual compensation is allowed.
4. Is CRSC the same as CRDP?
No, CRSC and CRDP are different programs.
CRSC is for veterans with combat-related disabilities, while CRDP allows concurrent DoD and VA benefits for retirees with a 50% or higher VA disability rating.
5. Do I need to apply for CRSC?
Yes, you must apply for CRSC.
The application involves filling out a DD Form 2860 and providing supporting documents like medical records and VA rating decisions.
6. How much will I get with CRSC?
The amount of CRSC you receive depends on the severity of your disabilities as determined by the VA.
It can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars per month.
The exact amount can be calculated based on the VA compensation rate tables.
7. What if my claim is denied?
If your CRSC claim is denied, you can request a reconsideration or appeal the decision.
This process involves submitting new evidence and explanation letters addressing the reasons for denial.
8. How long does CRSC last?
CRSC is a lifetime benefit.
As long as your eligibility conditions remain the same, you’ll continue to receive CRSC.
However, if your disability rating or other eligibility factors change, your CRSC could be adjusted or terminated.
Have Questions About Appealing Your Claim or Understanding How the Claims Process Works?
The attorneys at Hill & Ponton are here to support you with appealing a claim.
If you are intending to appeal a denied claim, you can contact us for an evaluation and we can help you with this process.
However, if you are considering filing an initial claim, or even if you are interested in learning about the appeals process, we offer a free ebook to get you started on the right foot!
The Road to VA Compensation Benefits will help break down the claims process from start to finish. Click the link below to learn more.
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