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).
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
No. Just like your retirement pay, this benefit is not protected from claims for child support, alimony, garnishment, IRS actions, or other creditors.
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.
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.