If you’re a veteran with service-connected disabilities, it can be challenging to understand how your military retirement pay will work. We’ve created this article to help.
The calculator is designed to give you an estimate of what your monthly pay will be based on your disability percentage and your service years. But it’s not always accurate and you should talk to your DFAS representative or VA-accredited claims agent about your specific situation.
How it works
If you have a disability rating from the VA, the military may pay you a monthly monetary benefit called military disability retirement. This is different than DoD disability compensation because it’s based on a medical condition that limits your ability to do your job in the military.
Until 2004, military service members could only receive military retirement pay or VA disability compensation, but not both. To keep military retirees from double-dipping, the law required that they offset, or waive, a portion of their military retirement pay by the amount they received in VA disability compensation.
Concurrent receipt laws were phased in, and veterans who had a combined VA service-connected disability rating of 50% or higher were eligible to receive military retirement pay without any offsets. If a veteran’s disability was rated below 50%, they were not eligible for CRDP, and their pension would be reduced by the amount of their VA disability pay.
Calculating your monthly payment
If you are a military retiree with a VA disability rating of 50% or higher, you can calculate your monthly payment using our disability military retirement calculator. Enter your personal information and then select your disability percentage to get an estimate of your monthly income from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), retired pay, Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC), and Social Security disability payments.
When you retire, your regular military retirement pay will be taxed in the same manner as your other taxable income. However, your disability compensation from the Department of Defense (DoD) is not taxable unless you were injured in combat or combat-related activities.
In a perfect world, all service members would receive the disability benefits they deserve when they become disabled during their careers. Unfortunately, due to the government’s budget limitations, this is not possible. Fortunately, there are programs that help compensate for this. These include Concurrent Retirement and Disability Pay (CRDP), Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC), Severance Pay, and Social Security disability.
Filing a claim
If you are a service member rated by the military as 30% or more permanently disabled, you may be eligible for disability retirement. These members can receive up to 75% of their service-connection disability rating, with a 30-year cap.
To get started on your claim, contact your regional VA office to discuss your eligibility. They will be able to give you an estimate of your monthly benefit.
It is also important to keep track of your doctor’s visits and treatment. This can help speed up the processing of your disability claim.
You can also contact your state and county Veterans Service Organizations (VSO) to find a local rep. These organizations are staffed by veteran attorneys who can help with your claim.
If your claim is denied, you can appeal. This is a complicated process, and you should consider hiring an attorney to represent you. A disability attorney can present new evidence that the VA missed, or prove your case with a compelling argument.
If you disagree with a decision on your disability military retirement, you can appeal it using the Department of Defense (DoD) DD Form 149. This form is also known as an Application for Correction of Military Record and is available online or from your personnel office.
Whenever a VA disability rating change is made, there is usually a period of time between the change and the date that DFAS receives the new information from the VA. This time lag often creates a set of retroactive debits and credits that need to be applied to prior months.
This can result in a decrease in your DoD retired pay and/or an increase in your Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) payment. Planning for these offsetting, retroactive debits and credits will help you keep your retired pay payments as close to what they were when you first filed your claim.
This can save you money over time if you are eligible for both retirement and disability benefits. However, you will need to look out for a CRDP/CRSC open-season election letter from DFAS in December to decide which program is best for your needs.