By Michael W. Macomber
A disabled Vietnam Veteran will now receive an increase in benefits as a result of a ruling by the Merit Systems Protections Board.
The Merit Systems Protection Board is an independent, quasi-judicial agency in the Executive branch that serves as the guardian of Federal merit systems.
William Barth, a service disabled Vietnam veteran, sent a letter to OPM in October, 2008 discussing recently expanded eligibility requirements for combat related special compensation. The changes allow veteran retirees, who were previously ineligible for CRSC to receive both their military retirement pay and VA disability compensation for combat-related injury.
OPM, however, never responded to Mr. Barth’s request for over 13 months. After some assistance from Senator James Webb of Virginia, Mr. Barth finally received a formal written denial from OPM. It was then when Mr. Barth obtained legal representation.
The case was brought before an Administrative Judge who found that OPM failed to provide any legal justification for the denial of Mr. Barth’s claim. The decision ordered OPM to separate Mr. Barth’s military time from his civil service retirement for calculating FERS annuity, allowing Mr. Barth to complete all new CRSC requirements. As a result, Mr. Barth is now eligible receive all of the benefits he is entitled to.
According to Tully Rinckey Attorney Mike Macomber, the case will impact thousands of other disabled veterans, allowing them to file a request for separation. “It is highly unfortunate that an agency tasked with authorizing this separation for service disabled veterans has spent almost two years denying a veteran additional disability retirement funds.”