CRSC and CRDP back pay delay.Despite a concerted effort to send back pay to disabled military longevity retirees under the Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) and Concurrent Retirement and Disability Pay (CRDP) programs, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) now says it will be this fall or later before some eligible veterans will receive their checks.
As many as 133,000 disabled military longevity retirees may be entitled to retroactive CRSC or CRDP payments as a result of winning an appeal of a Department of Veterans Affairs decision. However, efforts to calculate the back pay have encountered delays for finishing up the so-called VA Retro Awards, according to DFAS Deputy Director for Operations Pat Shine.
"We are again witnessing the weakness of the piecemeal process of enacting concurrent receipt of disability compensation and military longevity retirement pay," said National Adjutant Arthur H. Wilson. "Instead of Congress enacting a clearly understood, well-defined program to correct a serious inequity, we have two different programs that hardly anyone understands. The DFAS is working under the handicap of a dysfunctional program."
"Some back payments are getting to veterans," said National Service Director Randy Reese. "But this process is dragging along due to errors and miscalculations. We need fair and full concurrent receipt for all military longevity retired veterans."
"It's simple," said Reese. "Veterans should receive full disability compensation and military longevity retirement payments, not percentages based on a vague formula for service connection or phased in over nearly a decade."
By April 1, the VA had made $76.1 million in retroactive payments to 40,145 military longevity retirees. DFAS has paid $19 million to 10,500 military longevity retirees, mostly to those who were due back pay from both the DFAS and the VA.
About 22,000 military longevity retirees were found ineligible for back payments.
Late last year DFAS discovered that a new computer program to speed the process had failed, and calculations were done by hand. There is a revised computer program to automate the calculation process, but it won't be ready until April. Human errors have also caused delays.
On Sept. 1, 2006, DFAS and VA finalized plans to pay eligible military retirees any retroactive money due. These payments include adjustments to CRSC, CRDP and VA disability compensation. Amounts will vary based on differences in disability ratings and length of retroactive period.
CRSC was available to retired military personnel who have a combat-related VA disability rating of at least 60 percent effective June 1, 2003, or 10 percent with a Purple Heart. Eligibility for CRSC was lowered to 10 percent effective on Jan. 1, 2004, in legislation passed by Congress. Through CRSC, recipients can receive partial or full military longevity retirement pay and VA disability compensation. CRSC is paid based on the combined disability rating of combat-related disabilities for which recipients actually receive VA compensation.
CRDP is a phased-in restoration of the pay deducted from military retirees' retirement checks due to their receipt of VA compensation. The phased-in restoration was effective Jan. 1, 2004, and applies to military retirees who have a service-connected disability of 50 percent or more. CRDP payments are taxable and subject to collection actions for alimony, child support, community property, garnishment and government debt.
A disabled military longevity retiree can be eligible for both CRSC and CRDP but, by law, cannot receive both. Each year an open season is provided so that recipients can elect which type of payment they want to receive. CRSC is clearly the best option for disabled retirees because it is a tax-free benefit, unlike CRDP.
Retirees may be eligible for back pay from the DAFS as a restoration of retirement pay or from the VA as part of disability compensation. Retirees entitled to additional money from the DFAS will receive notification by mail of money due and a schedule of payment. If recipients are entitled to additional compensation from the VA, that agency is responsible for payment and will notify affected retirees. Retired disabled veterans do not have to apply for back pay under what is called the VA Retro program. Both the DFAS and the VA are working together to provide eligible retirees with their full entitlements to both VA compensation and CRSC or CRDP.
If a deceased military retiree was owed CRSC or CRDP at the date of death, the designated beneficiary is entitled to any unpaid military retired pay. Retroactive increases made prior to the military retiree's death and during the period in which CRSC or CRDP were paid provides for entitlement to VA Retro payments. These payments will be made to the beneficiary of the deceased.
Military retirees should call 1-877-327-4457 for issues concerning their entitlement for back pay. Calls may be made Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., E.T. Questions concerning disability ratings should be directed to the VA at 1-800-827-1000.
For all other questions regarding military retired pay, regular CRSC or CRDP payments, allotments, taxes or any other retired pay-related business, call 1-800-321-1080. This service is available from 7:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, except federal holidays. Military retirees can also find regular updates concerning VA Retro on the DFAS Web site (www.dod.mil/dfas) or contact the DAV National Service Office in your state.