Full Retirement & VA Compensation for Disabled Vets Medically Ret'd Before 20 Yrs Service
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Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.) have introduced legislation - S. 66 and H.R. 333, respectively - to expand concurrent receipt for disabled retirees. Show Congress we want the legislation APPROVED!
Disabled veterans who have been medically retired before being able to fulfill twenty years of service have to choose between VA compensation or their military retirement; whereas, veterans who have served twenty active years or more -and- are 50% or more disabled according to the VA receive dual compensation. Under Title 38 of the United States Code, Sections 5304 and 5305, you cannot receive both for those with less than 20 years of active service. Often what happens is that the amount of medical retirement pay one is owed will be deducted from any disability compensation one is eligible for through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). This is called the VA disability offset to military retirement pay.
Disabled veterans are often forcibly retired from service for injuries incurred in the line of duty (and combat) and are not able to fulfill twenty years of service. A servicemember cannot be medically retired from service without proving the injuries were incurred in the line of duty, so this is not a retirement easily processed/received.
For example: A compatriot of mine incurred injuries in Afghanistan and was retired from service after only three years in the Army. He receives his VA compensation, but receives no retirement from the Army. Currently, his wife cares for him and their children while they both attempt to work (as much as he can with his physical injuries). If he were to receive both VA and military retirement, this would alleviate the associated issues with attempting to work while receiving VA care and being in constant pain. This case is not unique considering the amount of young service members who were injured overseas that were serving in the armed forces on their first or possibly second contracts. Many young men and women were injured who were nowhere near twenty years of service and are anywhere from 30% to 100% disabled.
Second example: Another I know is a retired Army Soldier, having served nearly 17 years in the Army National Guard and Reserve, computing to approximately 6 years of active federal service including deployments and activations since 9/11. They were injured in Afghanistan and other injuries incurred in or exacerbated from service. They were not allowed to continue until 20 years of active service. Right now the individual is considered 100% disabled from the VA and receives compensation. However, they also work a full time job to cover the needs of their family. They have a newborn child, an autistic teenager, and a spouse who stays home with the children and cares for them when needed. They are not able to take the amount of time off needed for medical care, otherwise it will hit their pay check. If they were able to receive both retirement and VA compensation, the person could feasibly get a part time job or stay home while their spouse works a part time job in order to fulfill the needs of their family.
Many Disabled Retirees need the additional income from earned retirements in order to care for themselves and their families. Some were short only mere years from a retirement, and others (such as National Guardsmen and Reservists) have their time calculated much differently and could not reach 20 years as part time Soldiers. Many cannot spend the time to get the medical care we need because financially they have to work our 40+ hours a week jobs to make ends meet and possibly do not have the time available to use paid time off. Others are still appealing to the VA for various reasons. And yet others have simply given up hope and simply accept whatever rating they have been given, receiving a fraction of what they need for their families and what their injuries rightfully deserve.
Please help the cause, request your Senators vote in a bill that authorizes medically retired veterans to receive dual compensation in the form of *both* VA compensation and medical retirements for injuries incurred in the line of duty.
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