In early September, Congress moved nearer to ending the century-old ban on "concurrent receipt" of both military retired pay and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability compensation, for the most severely disabled among career retirees.
White House budget officials continued to wield a veto threat over the measure, however, and defense officials tried to persuade lawmakers to keep the ban in place with a new, perhaps final argument that most disabled retirees are not so bad off financially that they need the extra money, which would total $2,100 or more per month to a person rated 100% disabled.
Dr. David Chu, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, became the Defense Department's lead critic of concurrent receipt. In an interview he noted that results of a 1996 department survey showed average household income among all military retiree families, officers and enlisted, at $60,000 per year. That average held steady, he said, regardless of a retiree's disability rating, suggesting VA-rated disabilities are not keeping retirees from productive second careers.