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By Gidget Fuentes - Staff Writer
Marine Corps Times
Posted : Monday May 17, 2010 6:20:32 EDT
Thousands of active and former Marines may be eligible for extra money under a recent policy revision expanding benefits to troops wounded in combat, but making sure you collect what you’re owed will require some effort.
But help isn’t far away.
As soon as the Corps issued its revised policy in mid-April, the Wounded Warrior Regiment set out to identify eligible Marines and assist them through the process.
Known as PAC, short for Pay and Allowances Continuation, the benefit allows wounded Marines to collect the monthly special pays they would have lost once they were evacuated from the combat zone. Those can include hostile fire/imminent danger pay; hazardous duty incentive pay; hardship duty pay and several others.
For some, this will total several thousand dollars.
“We just recently credited a Marine $4,000,” said Terry Herron, the regiment’s pay entitlements supervisor.
As of late April, officials had identified 579 Marines eligible under the new rules, and they said they expect there are many others, including Marines who have left the service. However, they said some wounded warriors won’t take the necessary steps to collect the benefits because the process can be confusing.
“We are finding that when Marines get overwhelmed, they won’t apply,” Herron said.
Marines who think they rate PAC should submit an administrative action form to their command, which must forward it to the regiment on their behalf. Commanders don’t decide whether the Marine rates PAC. “We are the chain of authority,” Herron said.
A focused review of your records can pay off in other ways, too.
“When we look at their records, we can look at all their pay issues,” Herron said. “… We are like their check-and-balance.”
For example, a close look may reveal incorrect dates or other misinformation that could have mistakenly eliminated some benefits. When pay disparities are detected, they can be resolved within a matter of days. Herron cited a case in which one staff sergeant recently received $46,000 in severance pay.
Marines often have questions about their eligibility, especially if they were rehospitalized or received treatment months after the incident for related injuries. Along with informational booklets and benefits guides, the Wounded Warrior Regiment provides units with counseling forms with information about the policy and eligibility criteria — “so there’s no doubt in their mind,” Jones said.
Service members rehospitalized for the same wound or injury that got them medevaced from the combat zone may also be eligible for tax exclusions, so be sure to check.
“All they have to do is spend one day in the hospital, and they rate tax exclusion for the full month,” Herron said. “As long as they are being treated for that injury, they rate combat tax exclusion.”
Do you rate?
Thousands of sick or wounded Marines may be eligible for additional compensation. Think you rate it? Follow these tips for a quicker turnaround:
Check your records. Make sure the information about you in the Marine Corps Total Force System is accurate and up-to-date.
Mark your calendar. Ensure the dates of your injury and initial hospitalization are correct. Personnel casualty reports are issued when you are injured, released from a military hospital and put on convalescent leave.
Know your duty status. If you detect discrepancies in any of the Marine Corps’ databases, see your S-1 personnel shop immediately. Note, though, that any change to status can be done only by a military medical officer.
To learn more: http://www.woundedwarriorregiment.org