The Major Richard Star Act: Improving Support for Injured Service Members and Veterans

When service members retire from the military, they are entitled to both retired pay from the Department of Defense (DoD), and disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) if they were injured while in service.

Unfortunately, under current law, only Veterans with at least 20 years of service and a disability rating of at least 50% can collect full benefits simultaneously. Veterans with fewer than 20 years of service and a disability rating of less than 50% have their retirement pay reduced by a dollar for every dollar of disability pay they get.

However, a bill currently being considered by Congress seeks to change that offset requirement.  H.Rl 1282, The Major Richard Star Act, would allow any disabled Veteran to receive their full disability and retirement pay, regardless of how many years they served.

Who was Major Richard Star?

Major Richard Star deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kuwait with the U.S. Army Reserves. He contracted Stage 4 lung cancer due to exposure to burn pits and other damaging environmental conditions overseas.

While being treated, Major Star learned that his disability pay from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) would be deducted from his retirement pay from the Department of Defense because he hadn’t reached 20 years in the military.

Star pushed Congress to enact legislation to remedy this little-known provision, meeting with lawmakers until shortly before he passed away in 2021.

Understanding The Major Richard Star Act

The Major Richard Star Act would allow any disabled Veteran to receive their full disability and retirement pay, regardless of how many years they served.

Veterans who were medically retired from the military with less than 20 years of service, known as Chapter 61 retirees, and are eligible for Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) would no longer have their benefits reduced by the offset. That includes those who were retired for injuries sustained in combat and combat-related training.

The bill’s passage is anticipated to affect anywhere from 40,000 to 50,000 combat-injured Veterans to receive full disability compensation and retired pay.

The legislation is currently being considered by Congress and has received broad-based bipartisan support.  The Senate version was introduced on May 22, 2023, as S. 344 by Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman, who identified it as one of his top priorities this year.  The House version was introduced two days later, on May 24, 2023, as H.R. 1282 by Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL12).

The average offset was about $1,900 per month in 2022, according to the Congressional Budget Office.   The Congressional Budget Office has estimated the legislation could cost an estimated $9.75 billion in what is known as mandatory spending over the next decade.  Under House rules, increases to mandatory spending must be offset.  Legislators have indicated they will work with leadership and the VA committee to see if an offset can be found for this bill.

It received broad bipartisan support when introduced in the last Congressional session, with 325 co-sponsors in the House and 68 in the Senate. However, the bill struggled to advance partly due to costs and the passage of the PACT Act, which took precedence over this legislation.



Resources and Assistance for Veterans

The Richard Star Act provides much needed added benefits for Veterans who have served their country admirably.  Regardless of the Act’s status and when it might pass, if you’re a Veteran who needs help with a disability claim, Veteran Ratings is here to assist you.

We can pair you with one of our Veteran consulting partners and a network of medical professionals who will guide you as you gather evidence and documentation before you file your disability claim with the VA.

We have a 95% success rate in consulting Veterans with their initial claim submissions.  Our goal is to guide you in getting approved at the highest disability rating in the shortest possible time frame, saving you time and giving you added peace of mind when you submit your claim.

Get In Touch

If you are struggling with your VA disability rating or want to learn more about our service, please get in touch with our Veteran Ratings team.

Don’t hesitate! We are happy to answer any of your questions and provide guidance for your unique case.

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