Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutionsby Senator Harry Reid
Posted on 2013-02-07
S. 234. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to permit
certain retired members of the uniformed services who have a service-
connected disability to receive both disability compensation from the
Department of Veterans Affairs for their disability and either retired
pay by reason of their years of military service or Combat-Related
Special Compensation, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Armed
Mr. REID. Mr. President, I rise today on behalf of our Nation's disabled veterans to once again discuss an end to an unjust and outdated policy known as ``concurrent receipt.'' For the past 122 years, this practice has prevented veterans from receiving the full benefits earned through years of service and personal injury in defense of our Nation. The law requires that a retired disabled veteran reduce their retirement pay dollar-for-dollar by the amount of any disability compensation received, in many cases wiping out retirement pay altogether. This is simply wrong.
I have worked over the past decade to fight to change this outdated policy and commend the progress Congress has made on behalf of our Nation's veterans. In 2002, I was pleased that Congress passed a measure known as combat-related special compensation, or CSRC, allowing for disabled retired veterans to receive payments that are the financial equivalent of concurrent receipt. In 2003 I was pleased that Congress enacted a 10-year phase-in of concurrent receipt for military retirees whose disability is 50 percent or greater, and in 2004, Congress eliminated the 10-year waiting period for those veterans with 100 percent service-related disability. Moreover, in 2008, concurrent receipt eligibility was expanded to include those who are 100 percent disabled due to un-employability and extended equivalent financial payments to those who are medically retired or have retired prematurely due to force reduction programs. Most recently, in 2012, I was pleased to offer an amendment to the fiscal year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act ensuring that our combat-disabled military retirees receive proper combat-related disability and retirement benefits by eliminating the ``glitch'' in the CRSC formula that can actually cause a reduction in their compensation amount when the VA increases their disability rating. While I am proud that the 10-year phase-in period for veterans who are rated 50-90 percent will finally come to fruition this year, I still believe that Congress has fallen short of meeting the commitment of providing full concurrent receipt to all of our Nation's heroes. This is unacceptable and that is why we have to take care of the hundreds of thousands of disabled veterans who still need our help.
For me, this is a simple matter of fairness. No other Federal retiree is forced to forfeit their retirement--only our disabled military retirees. Veterans' disability compensation is recompense for pain, suffering, and lost future earning power caused by a service-connected illness or injury. Few retirees can afford to live on their retired pay alone, and a severe disability only makes the problem worse by limiting or denying any post-service working life. There is no reason to deny veterans who have served their country honorably the right to the full value of their retirement pay simply because their service also led to disability.
Today I reintroduce the Retired Pay Restoration Act of 2013 in order to eliminate all restrictions to concurrent receipt. I hope my Senate colleagues will join me in supporting this bill. We must take action now and support the veterans who have given so much to our grateful Nation. This is the right thing to do.
Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the Record.
There being no objection, the text of the bill was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows: S. 234 Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ``Retired Pay Restoration Act of 2013''.
SEC. 2. ELIGIBILITY FOR PAYMENT OF BOTH RETIRED PAY AND VETERANS' DISABILITY COMPENSATION FOR CERTAIN MILITARY RETIREES WITH COMPENSABLE SERVICE- CONNECTED DISABILITIES.
(a) Extension of Concurrent Receipt Authority to Retirees With Service-Connected Disabilities Rated Less Than 50 Percent.-- (1) Repeal of 50 percent requirement.--Section 1414 of title 10, United States Code, [[Page S522]] is amended by striking paragraph (2) of subsection (a).
(2) Computation.--Paragraph (1) of subsection (c) of such section is amended by adding at the end the following new subparagraph: ``(G) For a month for which the retiree receives veterans' disability compensation for a disability rated as 40 percent or less or has a service-connected disability rated as zero percent, $0.''.
(b) Clerical Amendments.-- (1) The heading of section 1414 of such title is amended to read as follows: ``Sec. 1414. Members eligible for retired pay who are also eligible for veterans' disability compensation: concurrent payment of retired pay and disability compensation''.
(2) The item relating to such section in the table of sections at the beginning of chapter 71 of such title is amended to read as follows: ``1414. Members eligible for retired pay who are also eligible for veterans' disability compensation: concurrent payment of retired pay and disability compensation.''.
(c) Effective Date.--The amendments made by this section shall take effect on January 1, 2014, and shall apply to payments for months beginning on or after that date.
SEC. 3. COORDINATION OF SERVICE ELIGIBILITY FOR COMBAT- RELATED SPECIAL COMPENSATION AND CONCURRENT RECEIPT.
(a) Amendments To Standardize Similar Provisions.-- (1) Qualified retirees.--Subsection (a) of section 1414 of title 10, United States Code, as amended by section 2(a), is amended-- (A) by striking ``a member or'' and all that follows through ``retiree')'' and inserting ``a qualified retiree''; and (B) by adding at the end the following new paragraph: ``(2) Qualified retirees.--For purposes of this section, a qualified retiree, with respect to any month, is a member or former member of the uniformed services who-- ``(A) is entitled to retired pay (other than by reason of section 12731b of this title); and ``(B) is also entitled for that month to veterans' disability compensation.''.
(2) Disability retirees.--Paragraph (2) of subsection (b) of section 1414 of such title is amended to read as follows: ``(2) Special rule for retirees with fewer than 20 years of service.--The retired pay of a qualified retiree who is retired under chapter 61 of this title with fewer than 20 years of creditable service is subject to reduction by the lesser of-- ``(A) the amount of the reduction under sections 5304 and 5305 of title 38; or ``(B) the amount (if any) by which the amount of the member's retired pay under such chapter exceeds the amount equal to 2\1/2\ percent of the member's years of creditable service multiplied by the member's retired pay base under section 1406(b)(1) or 1407 of this title, whichever is applicable to the member.''.
(b) Effective Date.--The amendments made by this section shall take effect on January 1, 2014, and shall apply to payments for months beginning on or after that date.
______ By Mr. CARDIN (for himself, Mr. Schumer, Ms. Mikulski, and Mrs. Gillibrand): S. 247. A bill to establish the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park in Auburn, New York, and the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park in Caroline, Dorchester, and Talbot Counties, Maryland, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.