Star Act Update: Support in Congress Approaches Tipping Point

Star Act Update: Support in Congress Approaches Tipping Point
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Nearly 30 House members signed on to co-sponsor the Major Richard Star Act in January, as support for the MOAA-backed legislation designed to end an unfair offset for combat-injured veterans approached a tipping point. 


At the end of January, bipartisan support for the bill stood at 180 co-sponsors in the House and 55 in the Senate. With midterm elections on the minds of elected officials, cresting 200 in the House and 60 in the Senate is within reach.  


With these co-sponsor tallies, the legislation will reach a level of support where constituents can point to the long list of legislators and ask their elected officials: “Why don’t you support our combat injured, especially with so many others from your state delegation already signed on?”  


[TAKE ACTION: Ask Your Lawmakers to Support the Major Richard Star Act] 


(You can check by state to see whether your lawmakers support here:S. 344|H.R. 1282) 


Understanding the Star Act 

The Star Act would support over 50,300 combat-injured veterans by allowing concurrent receipt of vested longevity pay and VA disability. These individuals, often seriously disabled, are subject to an offset where their retirement pay is reduced for every dollar of VA disability received. In some cases, their retirement pay is completely eliminated.  


MOAA and fellow advocacy groups have reiterated these points to legislators and their staffs as we’ve worked to move this legislation forward: 

  • Retired pay is for completed years of service paid by DoD. 
  • Disability compensation is for lifelong injury paid by the VA.  These are two different payments for two different purposes.  
  • Reducing retired pay because of a disability is an injustice. 
  • No other federal system would reduce retirement pay due to disability. 


In 2004, Congress authorized concurrent receipt for those who retired with 20 years or more of service and had a VA disability rating of 50% or more. Left behind were those with a 40% rating and below and those forced to medically retire. Of the group left behind, our combat injured need this support the most and often have compounding challenges from their injuries.    


Thanks to engagement from MOAA members and The Military Coalition (TMC) – a group of military and veterans organizations with a combined membership of nearly 5.5 million members of the uniformed services community – support for the Star Act is growing. MOAA and TMC advocate for concurrent receipt for all, and the Star Act is part of an incremental strategy. Increased support for this legislation is timely with the recent tragic exit from Afghanistan that left many with moral injury, and coming the year after Maj. Richard Star, USAR, an Iraq and Afghanistan veteran, passed away 


Looking Ahead 

As we approach spring, lawmakers will seek opportunities to connect with constituents because of upcoming elections. This is a great opportunity to send a message and follow the similar path to success taken with the repeal of the “widows tax”: The final surge of that advocacy effort in 2019 leveraged overwhelming bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress: 383 House and 77 Senate co-sponsors.  


Reach out to your lawmakers today and ask them to join the expanding ranks supporting the Major Richard Star Act. 


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About the Author

Lt. Col. Mark Belinsky, USA (Ret)
Lt. Col. Mark Belinsky, USA (Ret)

Belinsky retired in 2019 after serving 22 years, with overseas tours to Afghanistan, Iraq, the Republic of Korea, and Germany. He joined the MOAA team in 2019 as Director, Currently Serving and Retired Affairs.