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FORT KNOX, Ky. — Retirees who have been denied claims related to post-traumatic stress disorder are being encouraged to submit their claims again because the Army is using new, and more refined, criteria to assess those claims.
The new criteria affect claims made under the Combat Related Special Compensation program.
CRSC is a special entitlements program established in 2003 to provide tax-free monthly payments to eligible retirees who received combat-related injuries when they were in service with the active or reserve components.
The program restores military retirement pay that is offset when a retiree receives compensation from the Veterans Affairs Department for a disability or condition attributed to a combat-related event.
Eligible retirees can simultaneously receive an amount equal to or less than their length-of-service retired pay and their VA disability compensation, if the injury was combat-related.
Under the new assessment criteria, the Army is not tying PTSD claim approvals to a specific event, said Krista Selph, chief of the Special Compensation Branch here at Human Resources Command.
"PTSD is something that takes place over time," Selph said.
The Army's CRSC review board meets weekly to assess claims and, in recent months, has applied refined criteria for evaluating claims based on PTSD.
Selph urged applicants who have had PTSD-related claims denied to resubmit their claims.
"In terms of our refined evaluation criteria, the branch is approving PTSD claims for eligible retirees who present a valid piece of combat evidence paired with medical evidence," Selph said.
Eligible combat evidence includes, but is not limited to:
• A combat tour, or tours, highlighted by orders, a DD Form 214, Enlisted Record Brief or other official military document.
• Combat awards, such as the Purple Heart, Combat Action Badge or Combat Infantry Badge.
• Line of duty investigations.
• Performance evaluation reports specifying combat experience.
• Any official Army documentation indicating a claimant served in a combat specialty, in actual combat or as an instrumentality of war.
Eligible medical evidence includes but is not limited to:
• Treatment records following the combat tour that indicate the claimant sought assistance for PTSD.
• Physical or medical evaluation board proceedings that specify that PTSD was incurred in combat or while serving as an instrumentality of war.
• Separation or retirement orders indicating that the retirement was due to a disability incurred in combat or while serving as an instrumentality of war.
• Evaluation reports from medical and/or mental health practitioners.
A review of recent actions shows that, in July, the Special Compensation Branch processed 321 CRSC claims for PTSD.
Of those claims, 289 were approved, and 32 disapproved, for an approval rate of 90 percent.
In August, the branch processed 435 claims and approved 391, for an approval rate of about 90 percent.