January 2009 NRA News
by LCDR David M. Bradley, USNR (Ret)
DAV NSOs Assist Veterans and Their Families in Filing Claims for VA disability compensation, rehabilitation, and education programs; pensions; death benefits; employment and training programs; and many other programs
Last month, we talked about the different retirement programs and their requirements. This month, we’ll address those steps you should take as you near retirement. Whether Active Component (AC) or Reserve Component (RC), there are a number of steps you’ll need to take.
If you are AC or RC retiring off of an extended active duty, you should take advantage of the Transition Assistance Program (TAP). This, usually, is a four- or five-day course offered in the area of major commands. It is a voluntary program and should be requested at least six months prior to your retirement. Attendance cannot be denied. This program provides all the information you’ll need to insure a smooth transition. At least six months prior to retirement, you should also submit a retirement request letter. The format may
be found at http://www.navy-reserve.org/Portals/0/FAQ/RETIREMENT-FORMAT_LETTER.doc.
As part of this program, various veteran’s organizations such as the DAV, VFW, American Legion will make presentations concerning the services they offer. Each has National Service Officers to assist veterans and their families in filing claims for VA disability compensation, rehabilitation and education programs; pensions; death benefits; employment and training programs; and many other programs.
The National Service Officers are highly trained professionals. Moreover, they are skilled experts in developing and prosecuting veterans’ claims through indepth reviews of medical histories in conjunction with sound application of current law and regulations. One of their primary recommendations is that you obtain a complete copy of your medical record. Many of us have long-term service
and some of those records may be missing (what, you didn’t make a copy?). Well, all is not lost. You can write to the National Personnel Records Center; Military Personnel Records; 9700 Page Ave.; St. Louis, MO 63132-5100, and obtain copies of those old medical records. You may also contact them on-line at http://vetrecs.archives.gov. You should provide your full name, Social Security number, and dates of service.
With a complete copy of your medical records, choose one of the organizations listed above (all have easy-to-find Web sites) and contact them for possible assistance in the review of the record for possible filing of disability claims. You’ll be interviewed and may discover that an annoying malady may be the result of some long-forgotten incident for which you were treated. In representing veterans and their families, National Service Officers assist in the thorough preparation of claims and written briefs, which includes helping to assemble evidence in support of those claims. They also review rating board decisions and inform veterans and their families of the appeals process and their appellate rights.
If a disability, however slight, is discovered, a percentage value (ranging from 0 to 100%) is awarded by the Veteran’s Administration. Even if the disability award is 0%, it will still make you eligible for some VA services. Disability ratings at or above 10% will result in a reduction of your retirement compensation from the DoD and an equal amount paid to you by the VA. It is important to note that the disability payments from the VA are not taxable.
Retirees with service-connected disabilities rated at 30% or more are entitled to additional allowances for their dependents. Veterans who do not qualify for military disability may qualify for VA disability, and vice versa. Some qualify for both. Retirees who have disabilities should apply to the Defense Department and for VA disability compensation as well.
Retirees with 20 or more years of service and a 50% (or higher) VA-rated disability no longer have their military retirement pay reduced by the amount of their VA disability compensation. This new change is being phased in over a nine year period between 2005 and 2014 for those with disabilities rated at 50% to 90%. Congress has eliminated the offset entirely for those who are rated 100% disabled. Concurrent retirement and disability pay will be discussed in a later article.
Sometime prior to your planned retirement date (if RC), you should request an accounting of your total point capture. To obtain information concerning your total Annual Statement of Service History (ASOSH) – Retirement Point Capture Sheet, go to https://www.bol.navy.mil/DefaultPub.aspx?Cookies=Yes# . You may also contact Mr. Dennis Rumpza at (901) 874-5925 or write the Navy Reserve Personnel Center; 5722 Integrity Drive, Building 239; Millington, TN 38054; (866) 250-4778. You are notified annually of the points total. If the Reserve Personnel Center does not have your current address, you will not receive the statement. Discrepancies can be resolved by providing documentation of your service record or personnel files. Individual service members have primary responsibility for their personnel records. It is important to remember that you do not have to be in an active, drilling, or paid status with a Reserve unit to earn points. Reservists in many categories can earn points and gain qualifying years toward retirement. These include: Participating Individual Ready Reserve, Individual Mobilization Augmentees, Navy Volunteer Training Units, and Standby Reserve-Active Status List.
To estimate your possible retirement (sans any VA disability rating) and once you have verified your total points, a handy site is http://kellybeamsley.com/military/usnr/form/retirement_calculator_reserve.xls.
Take care and enjoy your approaching retirement. I am, email@example.com.