Battle continues for concurrent receipt – Legislative Update

Battle continues for concurrent receipt – Legislative Update – Brief Article

Dave Autry

The tireless grassroots efforts of our embers continues to win support in the fight to end the unfair policy that prevents military retirees with service-connected disabilities from receiving their full longevity retirement pay and VA disability compensation.

The House Budget Committee included $516 million in the fiscal year 2003 budget blueprint to fund concurrent receipt. Funding would increase annually over the next five years, providing a cumulative total of more than $6 billion by fiscal year 2007.

A similar provision included in the Senate budget resolution projects the cost over 10 years for a total of $17.8 billion. The Senate Armed Services Committees would determine how the money is allocated.

The House Budget Committee recommended that any military retirees with VA disability ratings of 60% or higher be eligible for concurrent receipt. If this recommendation were followed, eligible retirees would receive full concurrent receipt in fiscal year 2007.

Additionally, Senators Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Tim Hutchinson (R-Ark.) have reintroduced legislation that would repeal the 110-year-old law requiring military retirees to forfeit a portion of their longevity retirement payments equal to the amount they receive in VA disability compensation. The Retired Pay Restoration Act (S. 2051) would remove the contingencies placed in last year’s amendment to the Defense Authorization Act that endorsed the concept but did not provide the necessary funding. (See the January/February DAV Magazine.)

The latest version of concurrent receipt legislation directs the Department of Defense to find a way to pay for providing full retirement benefits to the estimated 600,000 eligible retirees by Oct. 1, 2002.

“It is very encouraging that meaningful steps are being taken to end the unfair ban against concurrent receipt,” said National Legislative Director Joseph A. Violante. “The House and Senate Budget Committee members should be applauded for their efforts to ensure concurrent receipt funding in this year’s budget cycle.”

“It is a matter of fundamental fairness that we provide our disabled military retirees with the pay they’ve earned and so rightfully deserve,” Mr. Violante said.

Senators Max Cleland (D-Ga.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), and John Warner (R-Va.) joined their colleagues from Arkansas and Nevada in sponsoring S. 2051. The measure already has more than 20 other cosponsors in the Senate.

“DAV members are urged to contact their Senators and Representatives to support S. 2051,” Mr. Violante said. “The DAV will continue to fight for full concurrent receipt for all disabled retirees. Their sacrifice and dedication to our nation must be honored.”

COPYRIGHT 2002 Disabled American Veterans

COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group