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Veterans: CRSC, retirees don't miss out

Just because a veteran was not injured in combat does not mean he or she may not be entitled to receive Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC). Many veterans may be missing out on hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars every month because they have not applied for the special compensation. Don't let the term combat throw you; there are many circumstances which are combat related that could justify approval of extra tax-free money for you.

CRSC is designed to restore military retirement pay that has been offset by Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) compensation when evidence exists to confirm the associated disabilities are combat related. For example, if a veteran is currently rated for disability of 10 percent with the VA, he or she receives a check from the VA for $115 each month, but his or her retired pay is reduced by the same amount. If the disability is found to be combat-related by the CRSC review board, he or she would continue to receive the monthly check from the VA for $115 along with the remainder of the retired pay, but begin to receive an additional monthly check from the CRSC for $115.

Many disabilities that resulted from conditions during peacetime may meet the criteria for CRSC. Some examples are an aircraft mechanic who works on the flight line and begins to lose his hearing while in-service; a personnel technician who dives for cover during a simulated air raid and injures her shoulder; and a special forces journeyman who makes a peacetime parachute jump and breaks his ankle upon landing. If you're not sure the circumstances surrounding your disability meet the combat-related criteria, it would be beneficial for you to apply for CRSC and let the board make a determination for you. You should submit a CRSC application if:

• You think you are eligible for CRSC and have never applied.

• You have been approved for CRSC, but you have more disabilities that you think might qualify.

• The VA has recently added more disabilities to your rating that you think might qualify. VA recently expanded coverage to those suffering from the following medical conditions associated with Agent Orange to include: Ischemic Heart Disease, Parkinson's Disease, Hairy Cell Leukemia and Chronic B-cell Leukemia.

There are a few prerequisites to consider before submitting a CRSC application. To meet the basic eligibility criteria to be considered for CRSC, veterans must:

• Be retired with 20 (or more) years of active-duty military service or retired at age 60 from the Guard or Reserve and

• Be receiving military retired pay and

• Have a compensable VA disability rating of 10 percent or higher and

• Receive military retired pay that is reduced by VA disability payments.

The application for Combat-Related Special Compensation can be obtained for first time applicants at www.naus.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/DD2860.pdf. If you are reapplying for new disabilities, request a reconsideration application from your service branch.

• Army: At www.hrc.army.mil/site/crsc/reconsiderations.html you can find a reconsideration application and instructions.

• Navy/Marines: At www.secnav.navy.mil/mra/CORB/Pages/CRSCB you can find a reconsideration application and instructions.

• Air Force: Call (800) 525-0102 concerning reconsideration.

When applying include documents you feel will help your case. These might include:

• Retirement orders

• 20-year letter or statement of service (for reservists)

• Relevant pages in your VA or service medical record

• VA ratings

• Purple Heart award citations

• Retirement Form DD214

Your branch will make decisions based on what you send. The quality of the information is more important than quantity. Send copies, not original documents. Your branch will not return them. NOTE: Veterans who waived military retirement pay for Civil Service credit are not eligible to apply for CRSC. [Source: USVCP & www.dfas.mil/retiredmilitary/disability/applyforcrsc.html Staff Feb. 23, 2018]

As always please see your local County Veterans Service Officer if you have any questions. You can contact your local VSO at (218) 631-7617 or by email at david.anderson@co.wadena.mn.us and as always have a great week.

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