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Reid revives veterans compensation bill

WASHINGTON — A bill that would provide full benefits to retired veterans who collect both pension checks and disability payments was reintroduced in Congress this week.

Sen. Harry Reid on Tuesday revived legislation to change the federal policy requiring a veteran’s retirement pay to be reduced by the amount he or she collects in disability.

Congress since 2001 has chipped away at the “concurrent receipt” policy. Lawmakers in 2003 passed Reid legislation phasing in over 10 years full benefits to veterans with at least a 50 percent disability rating. The 10-year phase-in since has been eliminated for veterans rated with 100 percent disability, and for all retirees disabled in combat.

The changes so far have covered 304,000 disabled retirees, but 623,000 still fund their disability compensation from their retirement pay, according to the Military Officers Association of America.

The latest Reid legislation would allow the remaining population of retired military with less than a 50 percent disability rating eligible for full benefits on Jan. 1, 2016.

“I am pleased with our progress on this issue over the past decade, but it remains unconscionable that veterans who have sacrificed for the sake of our country are being denied full retirement and disability pay,” Reid said in a statement with the bill. “No veteran should have to choose between retirement pay and medical care.”

Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at stetreault@stephensmedia.com or 202-783-1760. Find him on Twitter: @STetreaultDC.

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