May 18, 2023

Gallego, Bilirakis Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Protect Veterans’ Disability Pay

Washington, D.C. — Today, Rep. Ruben Gallego (AZ-03) and Rep. Gus Bilirakis (FL-12) introduced the bipartisan Restore Veterans’ Compensation Act, legislation that protects veterans who receive disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) from having their separation pay unfairly recouped.


“When our servicemembers transition back to civilian life, they should never be asked to cut a check in order to receive the VA benefits they’ve earned,” said Rep. Ruben Gallego. “The current policy against concurrent receipt is a shameful practice which slaps thousands of veterans with unconscionable financial penalties. It’s up to Congress to end this inequity and ensure all veterans can access the benefits they’ve earned, which is why I’m proud to join my colleagues in this bipartisan effort to restore veterans’ compensation today.”


“The brave men and women who return from serving our country should be able to receive all of the benefits promised to them," said Rep. Gus Bilirakis. "The issue of concurrent receipt remains an injustice that must be rectified for all Veterans. However, this important legislation will provide immediate relief for one group of Veterans who have been facing unreasonable financial penalties and unnecessary bureaucratic roadblocks when attempting to access the benefits they have earned."


“Our servicemembers, who sacrifice so much for our nation, must be able to count on the full range of benefits they are promised upon separating from the armed forces,” said Congressman Mark DeSaulnier. “I am proud of my work alongside Representative Gallego to ensure that injured servicemembers who receive separation pay for their time served do not have to forfeit this compensation upon qualifying for disability pay related to their injuries. The Restore Veterans’ Compensation Act is critical legislation that will help America keep its promise to servicemembers who have been injured in the line of duty.”


Separation pay can be given to service members when they depart the military for several reasons. For example, when members of the Armed Forces with more than six years of service meet reenlistment requirements but are not allowed to reenlist, they are eligible for separation pay. Separation pay is also used to incentivize service members to depart the military when the Pentagon is working to downsize the force.


“VA disability compensation can often be the difference between making ends meet and homelessness for many of our nation’s disabled veterans, which is why the practice of withholding a veteran’s VA disability compensation due to a non-related military separation benefit must end,” said Jim Marszalek, Disabled American Veterans National Service Director. “The Restore Veterans’ Compensation Act would afford justice for veterans and allow them to keep their separation payments, which are based on their military service and differ from VA disability compensation. DAV proudly supports this legislation and applauds Rep. Gallego’s effort to correct this wrong and unfair practice.”


Currently, outdated policies prohibit veterans from receiving concurrent receipt of unrelated benefit payments. Therefore, veterans who receive separation pay who later qualify for VA disability benefits have their separation pay recouped. The Restore Veterans’ Compensation Act would fix this unwarranted policy through several key provisions. Specifically, the bill would:

  • No longer allow for the recoupment of separation pay from veterans who later become eligible for VA disability benefits because the two compensate for different things—workplace injuries (disability benefits) versus time served (separation pay);
  • Ensure veterans who later qualify for military retirement pay only have to repay the net amount of separation pay instead of the gross amount to prevent the federal government from recouping more than the veteran received; and,
  • Change the recoupment rate for retired military veterans to 25 percent of those same veterans’ paycheck instead of the current 40 percent.


For a full copy of the bill text, click here.