Military retirees with service-connected disabilities are eligible for disability compensation in addition to their military retirement pay. However, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) requires eligible retirees to waive part of their retirement pay to offset the compensation benefit. Basically this means your retirement pay gets reduced by the amount of disability benefits you are awarded.
But there is a VA program that can restore some or all of this military retirement reduction, so that you can continue to receive most or all of your retirement pay in addition to disability compensation benefits. This program is called the Concurrent Retirement and Disability Program (CRDP).
Who Is Eligible for CRDP?
There are two basic eligibility factors that are considered in determining if you can receive Concurrent Retirement and Disability. First, you must be a military retiree who served 20 or more years. Second, you must have a service-connected disability rated at 50% or higher.
Who Is a Qualifying Military Retiree?
- veterans who retired after 20 or more years of service
- veterans who were retired under Chapter 61 (meaning, medically retired because of a disability)
- veterans who retired early under Temporary Early Retirement Authority (TERA) even if they served less than 20 years, and
- veterans who served in the National Guard and Reserve for 20 or more years (usually after receiving their first retirement check at age 60).
What Is a Service-Connected Disability?
Service-connected disability means a disability that happened or worsened while you were in service or that resulted from a condition that was caused in service. (See this article on service-connected disabilities.) Under the CRDP program, your service-connected disability must be rated at 50% or more for you to receive benefits. (See this article on disability ratings.)
How Much Will My Benefit be?
This benefit is a restoration of your reduced retirement pay. It is calculated based on the percentage rating of your service-connected disability. You will be paid up to the amount of your waived retirement pay, or your gross retirement pay, whichever is less.
If you were medically retired and your retirement pay is based on your percentage of service-connected disability, your CRDP benefit can’t bring you up to more than the amount your gross retirement pay would have been if your retirement pay was based on your years of service.
To learn more about the amount you can receive, call the Defense Finance and Accounting Service at 800-321-1080 or visit the DFAS website.
What If I'm Totally Disabled Based on Individual Unemployability?
If the VA has found you totally disabled on the basis of individual unemployability (TDIU), you can receive your full VA disability compensation plus your full retirement pay.
Will I Get Retroactive CRDP Benefits?
In some cases you will be eligible for a retroactive CRDP payment in addition to monthly payments. Your retroactive payment date, if any, will be limited to your date of retirement as well as when your disability became rated at 50% or more. In no case will a retroactive date be earlier than January 2004.
If DFAS finds that they owe you retroactive retirement payments, the agency will issue you a lump-sum check. If DFAS believes the VA owes you retroactive disability compensation benefits, the agency will notify the VA and the VA will be responsible for issuing the check.
CRDP has been phased in over a ten-year period with increasing payments each year, and this will be reflected in any retroactive pay.
Is CRDP Protected From Debt Collection?
No. Just like your retirement pay, this benefit is not protected from claims for child support, alimony, garnishment, IRS actions, or other creditors.
How Do I Apply?
You actually do not apply for this benefit. The Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) will automatically add CRDP benefits to your check if you are eligible. If you are not receiving these benefits and believe you are entitled to them, contact DFAS at 888-332-7411 or your branch of the military service.
- ARMY. U.S. Army Human Resources Command at 866-281-3254.
- NAVY AND MARINE CORPS. Naval Council of Personnel Boards at 877-366-2772.
- AIR FORCE. United States Air Force Personnel Center at 800-616-3775.
Can I Receive CRDP and Combat-Related Special Compensation?
No, even if you are eligible for both programs, you can only receive benefits under one of the programs. For more information, see Nolo's article on combat-related special compensation.