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Major Richard Star Act Would Enhance Disabled Veteran Benefits

UPDATE 11/30/23 At press time there has been no movement on this bill. It’s possible that it may not be considered at all in 2023.

The face of some military retirement pay options could be changing thanks to legislation known as the Major Richard Star Act. “Military retirement pay and service-connected disability compensation are two completely different benefits. One does not diminish the merits of the other.” That’s a quote from Representative Gus Bilirakis of Florida.

Bilirakis is the main sponsor of a House bill intended to eliminate a dollar-for-dollar reduction in military retirement benefits.

That dollar-for-dollar reduction applies specifically to those who were medically retired before reaching 20 years of time-in-service and who have VA disability ratings less than 50%, and who choose to receive both retirement pay and disability pay concurrently.

Related: VA Education Benefits for Disabled Veterans

What’s in the Major Richard Star Act

In June 2023, the House Armed Services Committee approved the Major Richard Star Act, which proposes to end the above policy of dollar-for-dollar reductions and allow those medically retired to draw both VA disability pay and military retirement pay without penalty.

Who is Affected

At press time, veterans medically retired with fewer than 20 years of service and a disability rating of less than 50% have their military retirement pay reduced in kind by the amount of VA disability pay they qualify for.

Policy changes in this area could affect some 50 thousand military retirees. If the Act becomes law, it would end the average “offset” for the 50 thousand veterans who may qualify for both VA disability pay and military retirement pay, worth roughly $1900 a month.

Bipartisan Support, But With Questions

Several published reports note that this legislation has bipartisan support, with more than 300 co-sponsors in the House and more than 60 cosponsors in the Senate.

But there has been infighting over how to pay for the measure; this legislation comes with an estimated $9 billion-plus price tag over a ten-year period. How to pay for the bill is, at press time, the major bone of contention for those who might oppose it with their vote.

Related: Disabled Veterans Benefit Guide

About the author

Editor-in-Chief | + posts

Editor-in-Chief Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter/editor for Air Force Television News and the Pentagon Channel. His freelance work includes contract work for Motorola, VALoans.com, and Credit Karma. He is co-founder of Dim Art House in Springfield, Illinois, and spends his non-writing time as an abstract painter, independent publisher, and occasional filmmaker.