Combat Related Special Compensation (CRSC) is a program that was created for disability and non-disability military retires with combat-related disabilities.
It is a tax free entitlement that is paid each month along with any retirement pay you already receive.
In the past, veterans were not allowed to receive both fully military retirement benefits and VA disability compensation.
The CRSC program (10 U.S.C. § 1414) allows veterans to receive both under certain qualifying situations.
Eligibility Requirements for CRSC
CRSC is available to eligible veterans for certain injuries or conditions that are combat related.
This can be broken down into three elements: (1) eligible veteran; (2) eligible conditions or injuries; and (3) conditions or injuries that are combat-related.
Who is an eligible veteran?
The rules for CRSC provide for four different situations in which a veteran is considered to be eligible to receive CRSC.
A veteran must receive military retirement pay for one of the following reasons:
- Served on Active Duty, the Reserves, or National Guard with 20 years of creditable service;
- Served on Active Duty, the Reserves, or National Guard and is also a permanent medical retiree (Chapter 61) regardless of years served;
- Served on Active Duty, the or National Guard and is classified as a Temporary Disability Retirement List (TDRL) retiree regardless of years served; or
- Served on Active Duty, the Reserves, or National Guard and is classified as a Temporary Early Retirement Act retiree with 15-19 years served.
Once a veteran has shown that he qualifies for CRSC due to his retirement status, he must then show that he has a disability rating of 10% or higher with the VA for an injury considered to be combat related, and that his military retirement pay is reduced by his acceptance of those VA benefits (VA Waiver).
What are eligible conditions or injuries?
As stated above, once a veteran has shown that he is eligible for receipt of CRSC, he must then show that he has a qualifying condition/injury.
For a condition to be considered for CRSC, it must be “combat-related.” Combat-related means that the injury must have been incurred in one of the following ways:
- Direct result of armed conflict,
- Instrumentality of war;
- Performance of duty under conditions simulating war; or
- Engagement in hazardous service
The above, begs the question, how does one show that their injury or condition is “combat-related?” Proof can be offered in a number of ways. One of the most direct ways to show combat relation is the receipt of a Purple Heart for the injury.
Other than receipt of Purple Heart, there are other ways to show an injury is combat-related.
A veteran whose injury or condition is caused by Agent Orange would also be considered to be “combat-related” as an “instrumentality of war.” Furthermore exposure to radiation, mustard gas, and Gulf War disease would qualify for CRSC. Secondary conditions to a combat-related condition will also qualify for a veteran’s CRSC award.
For more information about secondary service connection, please see here.
What are combat-related conditions or injuries?
The eligible conditions or injuries must be combat-related in order for the veteran to be entitled to CRSC. The following disabilities qualify as combat-related for purposes of CRSC:
- Injuries incurred as a direct result of armed conflict
- Injuries incurred through an instrumentality of war
- Injuries incurred in the performance of duty under conditions simulating war
- Injuries incurred while engaged in hazardous service
- Injuries for which the veteran was awarded the Purple Heart.
Also, disabilities that were service connected based on a presumption of service connection will be presumed to be combat-related.
Lastly, some secondary conditions can be considered combat-related if the primary service connected disability was considered combat-related.
CRSC Retroactive Payment & Effective Dates
A veteran can submit an application for CRSC at any time. However, be aware that CRSC is subject to a 6 year statute of limitations.
This means that in order to receive full retroactive CRSC entitlement, the veteran must file their CRSC application within 6 years of the date of any rating decision that would potentially make them eligible for CRSC, or within 6 years of the date they become entitled to retirement pay, whichever is more recent.
The effective date of the CRSC award is the date the veteran became legally entitled to the award. The following is a table that shows different effective dates and the corresponding eligibility criteria.
|Effective Date||Eligibility Criteria|
|June 1, 2003||At least 20 years of service AND receiving service connected disability compensation for a disability for which the veteran had been awarded a Purple Heart has combat related disabilities that are rated at least 60% disabling.|
|January 1, 2004||At least 20 years of service AND receiving service connected disability compensation for a disability for which the veteran had been awarded a Purple Heart OR receiving service connected compensation for a disability that is combat related.|
|January 1, 2008||At least 20 years of service OR less than 20 years of service and medically retired AND receiving service connected disability compensation for a disability for which the veteran had been awarded a Purple Heart OR receiving service connected compensation for a disability that is combat related.|
How to Apply for CRSC
CRSC is not a VA benefit, and therefore a veteran does not apply for CRSC through the VA. Instead, eligibility for CRSC is made by the veteran’s respective military service branch.
Each branch has the authority to determine a veteran’s eligibility.
In applying for CRSC, a veteran is required to fill out an application (DD form 2860) and submit it.
Along with the application, it is helpful to submit documentation that shows eligibility based on the factors above. Such documentation may include:
- Retirement orders
- 20-year letter or statement of service
- Relevant pages from VA or service medical records
- Purple Heart Citations; and
Once a decision is made, a veteran will be notified of the decision in writing.
If CRSC is approved, the service branch will also forward the decision to Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) who will then perform an audit of the veteran’s payments and check if the veteran is eligible for a retroactive award of CRSC.
If DFAS finds that there should be a retroactive award, the veteran can expect to receive a retro payment to the date of eligibility in the award letter.
Retroactive awards can go back as far as June 1, 2003, but will be limited to a veteran’s retirement date or the date of the qualifying VA award.
The later date will be the one used to determine the retroactive payment. If a veteran has less than 20 years of service, his retroactive date will be limited to January 1, 2008, his VA disability date, or his
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