Enacted under the National Defense Authorization Act for 2003; select veterans who are retired from military service and have service connected disabilities are entitled to both retirement compensation and VA disability pay. However, there are rules and restrictions (aren’t there always) on who is eligible to collect both pots of money and at what levels.
What is CDRP?
The idea behind CDRP is that while military members who retire receive their retirement pay by their service alone, the additional disability pay was also earned by those who unfortunately suffered service-related disabilities as well. Veteran advocacy groups argue that the two payments should be completely separate. In most cases, if you are retired and rated above 50%, you do not need to apply for CDRP, it will be automatically applied to your paychecks. You can see below how the VA benefit is offset until the veteran reaches the 50% rating mark, then it is added instead of offsetting the retirement amount.
Can There be a Situation Where I am Owed Back CDRP Pay?
There are many instances where someone may be eligible for back pay, especially if their disability benefits effective date has changed or is earlier than your original claim date. Veterans need to be specifically mindful to watch for this if they have had recent changes to their VA benefits. If a veteran has a rating decision that has changed an effective date or increased a rating level to an earlier effective date, back pay may be warranted. For example, if a veteran is rated 30% from January 1, 2010, and gets an IR to 50% from January 1, 2010, he or she would then be eligible for back CDRP pay from January 1, 2010. Another example is if a veteran is service connected and rated 70% effective January 1, 2015. The veteran appeals and gets an earlier effective date of January 1, 2001. The veteran would also be eligible for back CDRP pay from January 1, 2001, through December 31, 2014, to fill in the gap.
In order to be eligible for CRDP, you must first be eligible for retirement pay. You may also be eligible if you were placed on disability retirement but would have been eligible for military retirement if you hadn’t been disabled. If you meet this eligibility requirement, you could be entitled then if you:
- Are a regular retiree with a VA disability rating of 50% or more
- Are a Reserve retiree with 20 qualifying years of service with a VA disability rating of 50% or more
- You are retired under the Temporary Early Retirement Act (TERA) and have a VA disability rating of 50% or more
- You are a disability retiree who earned entitlement to retired pay under any provision of law other than solely by disability and have a VA disability rating of 50% or more
What is CRSC?
Combat Related Special Compensation (CRSC) applies specifically to military retirees who have a service-connected disability rating of at least 10% that was directly related to a combat incident. Combat related injuries include:
- Armed conflict/combat – including direct or indirect wounds that occurred during the conflict
- Hazardous duty – including such activities as demolition duty, parachuting, diving, aerial flight, etc.
- Instrumentality of War – a device such as a weapon or weapon system specifically designed for military duty or warfare, this includes such things as military combat vehicles, aircraft, chemicals, gasses, etc. Agent Orange would qualify as an instrument of war.
- Simulated war – any activities such as military training, exercises, airborne ops, live fire training, hand-to-hand combat training, etc. This does not include standard physical training or intermural activities.
Veterans have to apply for CRSC, it is not automatic like CRDP is. Applications are service specific:
Is Concurrent Retirement and Disability Pay Going Away?
There was talk of extending CDRP to all veterans who have a rating of 10% or more. However, that discussion has been reversed due to new budget proposals that are proposing to do away with CRPD all together in an effort to save $139 billion dollars between 2018 and 2026. Congress has recently reduced military retirement benefits to save money, then turned around and restored them in a backtrack move. Now CDRP is on the chopping block. Since this is a new payment, only having been in effect since 2003, and CRSC since 2008, it is easier to remove than longer standing benefits. It has been passed up until now, and there is hope from many veteran advocacy groups that it continues to be bypassed. This is definitely a budget item we will continue to watch as it moves through legislation.