As the old saying goes, “knowledge is power.” It is my hope this post will help to arm you with the information necessary to not only figure out if you qualify for Combat Related Special Compensation (also known as CRSC) but set you on the right path to get the benefits owed to you.
What is combat related special compensation?
Combat related special compensation 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 combat related special compensation program (10 U.S.C. § 1414) allows veterans to receive both under certain qualifying situations.
What are the Qualifications?
Entitlement for combat related special compensation can be broken down into three distinct categories: 1) eligible veteran, 2) eligible condition or injuries, and 3) conditions or injuries are combat related.
- 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). If you have not already applied for service connection, make sure to see the five common mistakes veterans make when applying for benefits here.
What is combat related for CRSC purposes?
- 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.
Applying for CRSC
- 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 combat related special compensation 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.