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Many vets may be missing out on special compensation

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFRNS) -- Just because an Air Force veteran was not injured storming the beaches at Normandy does not mean he or she may not be entitled to receive Combat-Related Special Compensation.

Many Air Force veterans may be missing out on hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars every month because they have not applied for the compensation, said Ann Lacey of the CRSC office at the Air Force Personnel Center here.

"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!" she said.

CRSC is designed to restore military retirement pay that has been offset by Department of Veterans Affairs compensation when evidence exists to confirm the associated disabilities are combat related. For example, if a veteran is currently rated for a 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 that same amount. If that 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 CRSC for $115.

Many disabilities that resulted from conditions during peacetime may meet the criteria for CRSC, said Ms. Lacey. As examples she cites 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 pararescue 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," Ms. Lacey said.

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

-- Be receiving military retired pay. Veterans who waived military retirement pay for Civil Service credit are not eligible to apply for CRSC.

-- Have a compensable VA disability rating of 10 percent or higher.

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

Copies of the Application for Combat-Related Special Compensation, DD Form 2860, and more information on the program can be downloaded by clicking here.  People can call the Air Force CRSC office toll free at (800) 616-3775 for assistance, or e-mail them at afpc.dppdc.afcrsc@randolph.af.mil.

Ms. Lacey believes applying is worth the effort.

"It will take a little time to complete the application and make copies of your documentation, but it could mean qualifying for monthly tax-free compensation for the rest of your life," she said.