By Tom Philpott
Tens of thousands of military retirees still intend to apply for the new Combat-Related Special Compensation.
Though the first CRSC applications were filed in early June, only about 1,000 were reviewed and 100 approved in time for payments to begin July 1. Given the volume of applications, waits of two to three months will be commonplace for a while. But when CRSC payments do begin for current retirees, they will be retroactive to June 1.
Congress enacted CRSC to cut or eliminate for a select group of disabled military retirees an offset in retired pay that occurs when they begin receiving VA disability compensation. Qualified retirees were awarded Purple Hearts for these disabilities or had serious injuries or illnesses from combat, combat-training or “instrumentalities of war” like Agent Orange.
An estimated 710,000 military retirees receive some VA compensation for “service connected” disabilities. Only 35,000 to 40,000, are expected to be found eligible for CRSC, said Tom Tower, a Defense Department pay expert who helped to draft CRSC regulations.
Monthly CRSC will range for most of them from $104 to $2,193, matching the retired pay offset caused by their VA compensation. But CRSC, as interpreted by Defense officials, will not restore retired pay offsets resulting from VA compensation to retirees for spouse and dependents.
Tower described the volume of applications reaching CRSC Boards as “huge.” About 60 percent are Army retirees, as expected. Only the Army is using a private contractor to help with the administrative burden.
Volume is the big obstacle to timely decisions, Tower said. At least 50,000 applications are expected but the number could double.
Tom Philpott can be contacted at Military Update, P.O. Box 231111, Centreville, Va. 20120-1111, or by e-mail at: