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Veterans Law

What is Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC)?

Alyse Phillips

April 2, 2020

Updated: June 20, 2024

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Understanding the VA Offset

To understand combat-related special compensation (CRSC), it is important to understand what happens when a veteran is receiving service retired pay and VA disability compensation at the same time.  Veterans who receive retired pay and VA disability compensation at the same time are typically subject to the government’s “double-dipping” laws.  To comply with this law, veterans who receive both service retired pay and VA disability compensation simultaneously are required to waive (give up) part of their service retired pay.  The amount the veteran receives in VA compensation is subtracted from the amount they receive in retired pay to avoid “double dipping”.

Concurrent Receipt

Veterans can now qualify for what is called “concurrent receipt” – the restoration of service retired pay that has been offset the VA.  CRSC is one form of concurrent receipt for veterans whose disabilities are combat-related.  Importantly, CRSC does not eliminate the VA offset.  Instead, the VA offset (an amount equal to your total VA compensation) will continue to be subtracted from your service retired pay.  However, CRSC reimburses all or some of your VA waiver in a separate check from your branch of service.  Thus, veterans receiving CRSC will get three separate checks each month:

  1. From Defense Finance and Accounting Services (DFAS) – a check for service retired pay with the full VA offset amount subtracted
  2. From VA – a check for your full VA compensation
  3. From Your Branch of Service – a check for your CRSC reimbursement.

If your VA compensation amount is greater than your total retired pay, you may only get two checks each month: one for your VA disability compensation and one for your CRSC payment.  You would not receive a retired pay check in this case because the VA offset, which is subtracted from retired pay, completely eliminates the retired pay.  It is important to note that because it is not considered retired pay, the CRSC payment is tax-free.

To be eligible for CRSC, veterans must:

  • Be entitled to and/or receiving military retired pay
  • Be rated at least 10 percent disabled by VA* Waive your VA pay from your retired pay
  • File a CRSC application with your branch of service

*Note: Veterans with 0 percent, or noncompensable, disability ratings are not eligible because they are not receiving VA compensation and thus have no retired pay offset)

Additionally, veterans must be able to provide documented evidence that their combat-related injuries were a result of one of the following:

  • Training that stimulates war (e.g., exercises, field training)
  • Hazardous duty (e.g., flight, diving, parachute duty)
  • An instrumentality of war (e.g., combat vehicles, weapons, Agent Orange)
  • Armed conflict (e.g., gunshot wounds, Purple Heart, punji stick injuries)

Importantly, eligibility criteria differ slightly for each branch of service, mostly in how they interpret the term “combat-related.”  However, the above requirements hold true for all branches of service.

CRSC is not automatically applied to eligible veterans.  For CRSC, you must apply to your branch of service by submitting DD Form 2860.  Veterans should also consider submitting copies of previous VA rating decisions, including the award letters and narrative summaries; copies of DD 214s and DD 215s (discharge paperwork); and official documented evidence that supports how the specific disability being claimed can be linked to one of the combat-related events outlined above.  When applying for CRSC veterans should not submit medical records that are unrelated to the disability being claimed or lay statements.

Below you will find links to the website for each branch of service that explains their eligibility requirements, how to apply, and what documentation you need to include with your documentation.  Each site also has downloadable CRSC application forms and the appropriate mailing address for that branch of service:

Retroactive Payment

In addition to monthly CRSC payments, veterans may be eligible for a retroactive payment.  DFAS will audit your account to determine whether you are due retroactive payment.  This audit requires researching pay information from both DFAS and VA.  If DFAS finds that you are also due a retroactive payment from VA, it will forward an audit to VA.  In this case, VA will also be responsible for paying any money that it may owe you.

Your retroactive payment may go back as far as June 1, 2003, but can be limited based on the following:

  • Your overall CRSC start date as awarded by your branch of service
  • Your Purple Heart eligibility
  • Your retirement date
  • Your retirement law (disability or non-disability)
  • Six-year barring statute

Importantly, disability retirees with less than 20 years of service will be automatically limited to a retroactive date of January 1, 2008 as required by legislation that was passed by Congress in 2008.  Furthermore, all retroactive pay is limited to six years from the date VA awarded compensation for each combat-related disability.

CRSC for National Guard and Reservists

Regular Guard and Reservist retirees cannot receive retired pay until age 60.  Therefore, even if these veterans are receiving VA disability compensation before age 60, they will not be eligible for CRSC until they turn 60 and start receiving retired pay and VA disability compensation simultaneously.

About the Author

Bio photo of Alyse Phillips

Alyse is a Supervising Attorney at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick. Since joining the firm in August of 2016, she has specialized in representing disabled veterans and their dependents before the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

See more about Alyse