Can I Increase My Military Disability Income?

Some veterans qualify for both disability and retirement income.

Some veterans qualify for both disability and retirement income.

Several options are available to disabled veterans of the U.S. military to increase monthly income under specific circumstances. Military disability is expressed on a percentage scale. The Physical Evaluation Board determines what disability percentage a veteran has. This determination affects the level of benefits for which the veteran is eligible. For example, a veteran who has not yet accumulated 20 years of active service but has a disability rating of 30 percent or more is eligible for disability retirement.

Considerations

A veteran's disability retirement pay is figured using either Method A based on percentage of disability or Method B based on the number of years the veteran actively served. The method that results in the most benefits for the veteran is used on an individual basis. Many veterans who qualify for disability income choose to work part time or full time. The VA does not penalize or reduce the disability benefit for those who earn income through employment, provided the disability percentage rating is not too high.

CRDP

If you are eligible, one way to increase your military disability income is to draw both disability and retirement income simultaneously. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs calls this "Concurrent Retirement and Disability Pay," or CRDP for short. The VA automatically enrolls veterans who are eligible for this income. Among the qualifications for eligibility are having a disability rating of 50 percent or more if you are a regular service retiree. According to the VA, certain veterans are eligible for retroactive payments.

CRSC

Receiving Combat-Related Special Compensation is another way to increase your income if you qualify. This income is tax-free and is provided in addition to other retirement and disability pay you may be receiving. CRSC payments cover disabilities resulting from hazardous duty, armed conflict, war and simulated war. Retroactive payments are available for those who qualify and, as of publication, can go back to June 1, 2003 for service members with 20 years of service. Veterans with less than 20 years of active service who retire on disability have a retroactive date of January 1, 2008.

Unemployable

Veterans classified as unemployable may be eligible to receive disability payments at the 100 percent rate even if the individual's disability percentage rating is lower. Regulations require that the veteran cannot work at "substantially gainful employment" and have a disability rating of 60 percent or greater for one military disability or a combined rating of 70 percent or more for military-related disabilities. The VA defines substantially gainful employment as that which a non-disabled individual could achieve.

Severe Disabilities

You may be eligible to increase your military disability income if you suffered a severe disability or if your spouse is severely disabled or if you have dependents. Special monthly compensation is available for veterans who have suffered such severe disabilities as the loss or use of a limb, loss of sight, hearing in both ears, immobility, and other serious injuries. Veterans with more than one of these severe disabilities are eligible for even higher monthly payments.

Low-Income Pension

The federal government, through the VA, provides low-income veterans with an additional pension. This additional money is available for veterans who suffered a disability after separation from the military. The veteran must have served during a time of war to qualify for this extra income. In addition, only those with severe disabilities are eligible.

About the Author

Vicki A Benge began writing professionally in 1984 as a newspaper reporter. A small-business owner since 1999, Benge has worked as a licensed insurance agent and has more than 20 years experience in income tax preparation for businesses and individuals. Her business and finance articles can be found on the websites of "The Arizona Republic," "Houston Chronicle," The Motley Fool, "San Francisco Chronicle," and Zacks, among others.

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