Combat-Related Special Compensation
In the previous post on Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC), we discussed the second part of eligibility for CRSC: what qualifies as “combat-related”. Now we are going to talk about the final points on “combat-related” disabilities and the application process.
In identifying what constitutes as “combat-related”, the Department of Defense (DOD) established two additional categories for inclusion in qualification for CRSC:
- Disabilities presumptively service-connected by the VA
- Secondary Conditions
Disabilities Presumptively Service-Connected by the VA
The DOD has determined that certain disabilities which have been service-connected by the VA based on a presumption of service-connection will also be presumed to be combat-related for CRSC. These include:
- Disabilities due to exposure to Agent Orange, radiation, mustard gas, or lewisite
- Unexplained illnesses associated with the Persian Gulf War
- Disabilities rated on the basis of POW status
This means that a veteran who has a service-connected disability that has been presumptively service-connected by the VA can also receive CRSC for that disability. For example: A veteran is military retired after 20 years of service. He is rated 30% for Ischemic Heart Disease and 20% for prostate cancer, both of which were presumptively service-connected due to exposures to herbicides. Therefore, the veteran is eligible for CRSC because he fulfills all the requirements:
- Military retired
- VA service-connected disabilities at a rating of 10% or more
- Disabilities fall under one of the “combat-related” categories
The VA can grant service-connection to a disability that resulted from a pre-existing service-connected disability. This is considered a “secondary condition”. A secondary condition is one of the following:
- A newer condition that manifested after discharge, and resulted from a different service-connected condition
- A condition not related to military service, but was worsened (aggravated) by the existence of the service-connected disability.
The DOD has recognized that some secondary conditions can be considered “combat related” if the primary service-connected disability was the considered combat-related under one of the five categories that we have already discussed.
For example: A veteran was medically retired due to a parachute injury in which the veteran’s right knee was shattered. The veteran’s right knee condition has been service-connected by the VA at a rating of 40%. However, due to the right knee condition, the veteran developed a right hip condition. The VA service-connected the right hip condition at 20% as a secondary condition. Since the original condition – the right knee disability—was considered to be combat-related, the secondary condition is considered combat-related as well.
The Application Process
Combat-Related Special Compensation is not automatically awarded. Veterans must submit an application to the CRSC Board in order to obtain compensation. The official CRSC application form is a five page DD 2860 form. Each branch of the military has its own CRSC Board. Once the veteran submits the application to the branch of service from which he/she retired, the CRSC Board makes two determinations:
- Initial determination of eligibility
- Determination of whether or not the veteran’s service-connected disabilities are combat-related.
After these determinations, the CRSC Board forwards the information to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) to calculate the amount of retroactive and prospective monthly CRSC (if any) that is due to the veteran.
Important Note: Even if the CRSC Board finds that a veteran’s service-connected disability is combat-related, there is no guarantee that the veteran will receive additional compensation for it. When determining the actual CRSC payment amounts, DFAS has to take into consideration years of creditable service, retired pay base, gross retirement pay, and the combined disability rating of the VA service-connected disabilities that were determined to be combat-related. There is a complicated statutory formula used in calculating CRSC awards, and the calculations may result in no monetary benefit to some veterans who are eligible for CRSC.