Many veterans are eligible for several different benefits as a result of military service. If you served in the military for 20 years or more, you may qualify for military retirement pay. You can also qualify for military retirement pay if you were medically retired from military service.
Many veterans who qualify for military retirement also have service connected disabilities. As a result of these service connected disabilities, these veterans may qualify for VA disability benefits.
One question that many veterans have is how the different benefits interact. Can a veteran who qualifies for military retirement benefits also draw VA disability benefits at the same time?
Can I receive both VA disability benefits and military retirement?
In the past, veterans could not receive both VA disability benefits and military retirement. But, that rule changed in 2004 when Concurrent Retirement and Disability Pay (CRDP) began.
You can now receive both VA disability benefits and military retirement if you hit certain levels of VA disability ratings. This is why a 50% level of VA disability is important to veterans who receive military retirement pay.
If you are rated by VA overall under 50%, then you cannot receive your military retirement pay and your VA disability pay. But, once you hit that 50% rating level, then the offset goes away and you can receive both your military retired pay and your VA disability pay.
This change in the rule was a huge benefit to veterans. It recognized that veterans should receive compensation for their years of service and also for the disabilities they incurred while they were serving our country.
How does Concurrent Retirement Disability Pay affect me if I am under the 50% level?
I see a lot of veterans who have one or more service connected disabilities. They often have a total VA rating of either 30 or 40 percent.
Your VA rating determines your monthly VA disability benefit. The higher the rating from VA, the higher your monthly benefit. For a 40 percent total rating, a veteran generally receives between $600 and $900 per month depending on how many dependents the veteran has.
But, a veteran who is at the 40% level and receiving military retirement benefits will not really receive any VA disability benefits. This is because the VA disability benefits are offset by the military retirement pay. This means that the veteran is essentially losing $600 to $900 per month.
Normally, a veteran who has an increase from 40% to 50% would see an increase of about $250 to $300 per month in VA disability benefits. But, a veteran drawing military retirement benefits sees an increase between $840 and $1100 per month.
This large increase occurs because the veteran drawing military retirement receives no VA disability benefits at the 40 percent total rating level because of the military retirement offset. But, CRDP makes the offset go away at the 50 percent level.
CRDP should apply to your benefits automatically if you receive a rating of 50 percent or higher. But, VA will not automatically increase your rating. You have to take action to get your rating increased.
How can I get my VA disability rating increased?
It is always important to get the correct rating from VA. However, getting the correct rating becomes even more important when you receive military retirement benefits. If VA is off by 10% on their rating and gives you a 40% instead of a 50%, it could cost you around $1000 per month.
VA may have rated you at the incorrect level when you initially applied for benefits. Even if VA rated you correctly, your service connected disability may have worsened. If so, you could be eligible for an increase.
If you have a pending application for benefits, you may be able to seek an increased rating in your current application. If you do not have a pending application, you can file for an increased rating.
Also, many veterans have a secondary disability that develops as a result of one of their service connected disabilities. Getting service connection for that secondary disability will often result in a total rating at the 50% rating or higher.