Tester, Crapo Lead Bipartisan Push to Provide Full Benefits for Disabled Veterans

Bipartisan Major Richard Star Act would allow combat-wounded veterans to receive disability compensation and retired pay

U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to provide combat-wounded veterans with less than 20 years of service, also known as Chapter 61 Veterans, both their disability compensation and retired pay.

Currently, military retirees with combat-related injuries qualify for retirement pay for their service. These retirees also qualify for disability compensation for injuries acquired in combat. For retired veterans with less than 20 years of service, their disability pay is deducted from their retirement pay. The Major Richard Star Act would repeal this unfair offset, allowing combat-wounded veterans to receive their retirement pay from the U.S. Department of the Defense and their disability compensation from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

“When it comes to providing disabled veterans with their earned benefits, the government needs to provide them in full— not have one benefit cancel out the other,” said Tester, Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “The Major Richard Star Act would get rid of the unfair offset that prevents 42,000 veterans, who sacrificed life and limb in combat, from receiving both their disability compensation and retired pay. This bipartisan bill is a necessary step in making sure that veterans living with the wounds of war receive the benefits and assistance they deserve.”

“I have been dedicated to ensuring all active and retired military personnel receive the care and benefits they deserve, which is why I previously worked to eliminate the military widow’s tax,” said Crapo. “The Major Richard Star Act will allow military retirees to receive both military retired pay and disability compensation without being offset. This bill will affect about 42,000 medically retired and combat-injured veterans. As Congress works to improve veterans benefits, it is important to ensure that unfair discrepancies, such as this, are fixed.”

The Major Richard Star Act received strong backing from six leading Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs), including Veterans of Foreign Wars, Wounded Warrior Project, Military Officers Association of America, National Military Family Association, Fleet Reserve Association, and the Enlisted Association.

“The veterans in most need are those with combat injuries and less than 20 years of service,” the VSOs wrote in a joint letter of support. “This bill would provide total offset relief. This also reduces the number of people still awaiting total concurrent receipt, and commensurately reduces the cost of total concurrent receipt for all retirees who should keep both their retired pay and disability compensation.”

The bill is named after Major Richard A. Star— a father, husband, and decorated war veteran who is medically retired as a result of his combat-related injuries. Read more on his life and service HERE.

The bill text can be found HERE.