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Medical/temporary retirees now eligible for CRSC payments

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Former Airmen receiving military retired pay who served less than 20 years may now be eligible to receive Air Force Combat-Related Special Compensation.

CRSC is part of a legislative initiative designed to restore a veteran's military retirement pay that has been reduced by Veterans' Affairs compensation of at least 10 percent when the veteran's disabilities are combat-related.

The 2008 National Defense Authorization Act, signed into law Jan. 28, expanded eligibility requirements for the CRSC program to include Medical Chapter 61, Temporary Early Retirement Act and Temporary Disabled Retirement List retirees.

"Prior to this change, retirees had to have 20 years of active duty service or be retired at age 60 from the Guard or Reserve," said Mr. Rick Castro, Air Force CRSC program manager. "If you didn't have 20 years you weren't eligible. However with the NDAA expansion, if you are medically retired, either permanently or temporarily and you have VA payments that reduce your retirement pay, you are eligible to apply for CRSC."

For example, a DESERT STORM veteran who was injured and subsequently medically retired at 14 years of service, who received a 30 percent disability rating from the VA, should apply; it may be the key to receiving additional tax-free money to which the veteran is entitled.

"That said, let our experts make the call," Mr. Castro explained. "That way if you do not qualify and something in the law or Department of Defense CRSC policy changes in the future that could affect the prior decision, like the 2008 NDAA, we will already have a claim and documentation, and can reassess a claim based on the new eligibility factors."

In determining eligibility, retired members should answer the following questions:

-- Am I receiving retired pay?

-- Do I have a compensable VA disability of 10 percent or higher?

-- Is my retired pay reduced by VA disability payments?

"If you answered 'yes' to those questions and have not submitted your CRSC claim, you should do so," Mr. Castro said. "The money is tax-free and could help pay medical expenses or improve your quality of life."

Although CRSC specifically addresses "combat-related" disabilities incurred from armed conflict, retirees who developed disabilities from other than combat may also be eligible. Disabilities caused by exposure to Agent Orange, combat training, aircrew duties, simulated war exercises, parachuting and munitions demolition potentially qualify for compensation under this program.

The CRSC team needs copies of a retiree's Department of Defense Form 214 or retirement order, any VA rating decisions addressing the disabilities being claimed, and any other available documentation.

Note that CRSC is different from automatic Concurrent Retirement and Disability Pay. CRDP is also designed to restore military retired pay that has been offset by VA compensation of 50 percent or more; however, there is no combat-related requirement for CRDP.

For more information and claim forms, visit the AFPC Public Web site under "Former Airmen Information." You can also get more information through the 24-hour Air Force Contact Center at (800) 616-3775.