42,000 Veterans May Soon Get Largely Expanded Retirement Benefits Under New Bill
42,000 military retirees may soon get dramatically expanded retirement benefits under a bill that was just reintroduced in the Senate.
Under the current policy, when service members retire they are entitled to retired pay from the DoD and disability compensation from the VA. However, in order to be able to collect both benefits at the same time they would have had to serve a minimum of 20 years and have a disability rating of at least of 50%.
The Major Richard Star Act would change this policy to help veterans who had their military careers cut short due to combat-related injuries. Under the bill, 42,000 veterans would be able to collect hundreds of dollars per month that they were previously denied.
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The Major Richard Star Act would allow veterans who served less than 20 years before being medically retired due to combat-related injuries to receive both disability compensation and full retirement pay. Currently, only military retirees with at least 20 years of service and a disability rating of at least 50% can collect both benefits in their entirety.
Under current law, an estimated 42,000 retirees are ineligible for concurrent benefits. Their retirement pay is reduced by the amount of disability compensation they receive from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The legislation would remove limits on the level of disability covered, potentially driving up the government's costs significantly with full retirement pay for all such veterans.
Senator Jon Tester, the chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, stated that the bill "would fix the unfair offset that prevents thousands of veterans living with the wounds of war from accessing both their disability benefits and retired pay.”
Veterans organizations widely support the bill, however Congress failed to pass it last year.
With new Congress now being sworn in, lawmakers are in hopes it will pass through.
The bill was named after Major RIchard Star. He was an Iraq and Afghanistan veteran who inspired many people across the nation. He died in February as a result of lung cancer following exposure to burn pits overseas.
Maj. Richard Star was a strong proponent of veterans being able to simultaneously collect full retirement pay and disability compensation.