Jerry Mellick <jerrymelli@gmail.com> sent me this summary of a talk he gave  to the VHPAWA meeting in Spokane. Here is the (edited) verison.

As you will remember, one of our East Side members, John Johnson, asked me to give a short talk on using the VA Health Care System in addition to the VA Health Disability System at our meeting last Saturday.  Later, he asked me to see if I could have it posted to our Web Page so it is always available.  T


The biggest thing is that the two elements of the VA don’t play with each other.  Being some percentage of Disabled doesn’t necessarily translate to being in the Health care system. I was perfectly happy with my health care using Medicare and Tricare for Life and I pushed back at the VA in their runs at me to get me enrolled at the Spokane VA Hospital. Finally, a VA rep in Orlando, who had a booth at our VN Pilots Reunion some years back, asked me to give him 15 minutes.  To make a long story short, the VA is really looking for “healthy” Veterans like me (I’d been giving helicopter rides when he talked to me).  He explained that the VA receives a dollar amount for every Veteran that is enrolled in the Health Care System and when (healthy) guys like us are enrolled and don’t need treatment, they can use the funds for the veterans who need a lot of help.

It is a simple process and there is NO requirement to use the VA if you don’t want to.  Although they are on the leading edge if you need to obtaining quality glasses and hearing aids.

The requirement is to take a physical once a year.  It was a very comprehensive oral history and exam.  At my first one, they offered up a lot of stuff, but I didn’t need that.

Since I’m a Type II Diabetic, they have been seeing me twice a year to check my condition subject to availability.  Beyond that, I don’t have any contact with them.

Like I said Saturday, initially, I thought I was doing them a favor, getting an additional physical each year and that was it.  Then I realized that given the condition of Medicare funding and the frailty of Tricare, I’d actually positioned myself pretty well if things went to hell in the current healthcare world.  If sometime downstream I had to depend only on the VA, I didn’t want to have some issues and be trying to get enrolled in their system.

You can just go out to your local VA facility and get enrolled, at least when I did it, that is how it worked.  Once enrolled, they scheduled me for a physical.

Hope this makes sense.
Jerry

 

PS: in my searching, I found my letter to my Army buddies on the CRSC and CRDP programs that each of our services provide.  Here is the paper I wrote on this.  I get about $400 a month from the Army for CRSC and it offsets some of the $700 a month the Army takes from my Retirement pay for my VA Disability.  It is worth looking into.  Each Service manages the program.  In addition, when I applied, I got a $18,000 back pay check too.

http://www.dfas.mil/retiredmilitary/disability/crsc.html   is the pertinent DFAS web site.

Combat Related Special Compensation (CRSC) is a program that was created for disability and non-disability military retirees with combat-related disabilities.  It is a tax-free entitlement that you will be paid each month along with any retired pay you may already be receiving.  The form for this is DD Form 2860 and the address is on the form.

Somewhere I read that the purpose of the CRSC was to offset the deduction of military retired pay due to the award of the VA Disability Pay, but I cannot not find that reference.

There are two programs:  Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) and Concurrent Retirement Disability Pay (CRDP).  Both are programs created by Congress to allow eligible military retirees to receive monthly entitlements in addition to retired pay.

CRSC is a special compensation for combat-related disabilities.  It is non-taxable, and retirees must apply to their Branch of Service to receive it.

CRDP is a restoration of retired pay for retirees with service-connected disabilities.  It is taxed in the same manner as your retired pay, and it is normally considered taxable income. No application is required. Eligible retirees receive CRDP automatically.

The criteria for both of these programs are spelled out at the site I provided up above and others at that location.  Based on the criteria spelled out there, I could only apply for the CRSC.

I stumbled on to this by accident back in March.  Actually, the Army sent me info about these programs in the past, and due to my thinking, I didn’t qualify for either, given the words Combat Related.  Consequently, each time I looked into it, I didn’t do anything about it.

In early March that year, I was at the local VA Vet Center that is set up in Spokane to assist veterans with a variety of things.  In addition to support groups, counseling, job hunting etc, it is also staffed with volunteers from the Order of the Purple Heart, VFW, American Legion etc to help with VA Disability claims.  Apparently, the VA puts more credibility into claims from Soldiers who go through and designate someone like the VFW to act in their behalf.

I went in to ask for assistance on finding an address to send a request for an upgrade consideration to the VA Disability system as I couldn’t find one.  Since I’m grounded due to my need to take insulin for my Type II Diabetes which I already had a rating of 10% for due to my VN service and Agent Orange exposure, I decided to ask for an upgrade as I’d been advised that Insulin usage results in a higher rating.

While I was there, getting set up with the VFW counselor, another counselor handed me a form about this CRSC/CRDP program.  I told the gentleman that I didn’t feel I qualified for either given that I didn’t have any “Combat” related issues, just service connected.  He pointed out that there was a section on the form for Agent Orange issues, and given it was March and I had my flight jacket on, the gentlemen said rather forcefully: “Fill out the damn form Colonel”.

Given the rather forceful (and appropriate) advice :-), I applied in early March with the Army at Ft. Knox, and got approval within about 45 days and got my first monthly check on July 1st.  The award letter gave me 10% award for Type II Diabetes based on exposure to Agent Orange and 10% for Tinnitus based on Military Service.  It also said that the award was effective May 2008.

Initially, when I got the money in my checking account from DFAS, I didn’t know if this was a monthly check or the total, so I went to “MyPay” and it was made clear to me that it was a monthly pay.  It also said if any retroactive pay was due, it would be paid in 30 to 60 days.  In August of that year, I received from the Army a check for nearly $18,000.  Not sure how that computes based on the monthly stipend and the retroactive date, but I don’t care.

As of now, this is all I know on this subject.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

If you are receiving a VA stipend for Service connected disabilities, and your award is less than 50%, I believe that you will find a like amount being deducted from your US Army Retired pay.  I had to sign a waiver of my retired pay, and I thought that the waiver was mandatory to have a VA disability claim.  At least that is what I was told at my Retirement out processing when I signed the waiver form.  However, I know of no one, with a VA rating below 50%, that this isn’t the case for.

Not sure what the military retirement status is of all of the folks on my military email list, so I’ll qualify this note right off the bat so you can discard it if you don’t fall into the following categories:

  • Military Retiree and are entitled to and/or receiving military retired pay;
  • Be rated at least 10 percent by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA;
  • And have waived your VA pay from your retired pay.

I recently applied for, and received, Combat Related Special Compensation (CRSC) from the US Army, both in the form of a tax free monthly stipend, and a tax free retroactive lump sum payment.

 

 

 

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