SFL Frequently Asked Questions

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

EDUCATION

I know I can get credit for my military experience, but how do I know what qualifies?

Joint Service Transcript (JST) is an academically accepted document approved by the American Council on Education (ACE) to validate a service member's military occupational experience and training along with the corresponding ACE college credit recommendations. The JST provides a description of military schooling and work history in civilian language. Current and former members of the Active, Guard, and Reserve forces may register online at Joint Service Transcript (JST) registration.

Where can I find information on civilian credentials related to my MOS?

Army Credentialing Opportunities Online (COOL) provides information on civilian credentials related to enlisted and warrant officer MOSs. While the site does not provide credentials, it assists Soldiers in identifying and registering for credentialing opportunities.

I haven't been a student for a long time. Are there any organizations that help student veterans assimilate to campus life?

Yes. The most prominent is Student Veterans of America (SVA) which provides military veterans with the resources, support, and advocacy needed to succeed in higher education and careers after graduation. SVA operates more than 1100 chapters on campuses nation-wide.

I am a teacher and am currently certified in my state. Is there a resource that can show me where my certifications would transfer?

NASDTEC is the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification. The NASDTEC website www.nasdtec.net provides a list of states participating in the Interstate Agreement and a data map that provides requirements for out-of-state applicants.

I've heard I can participate in career skills training programs while still on active duty, is that true? If so, how can I learn more?

It's true during your final 180 days of service. Public law and DoD Instruction 1122.29 authorized the development of career skills training programs transitioning Soldiers may participate in during that time frame. The Army's implementation instruction will be published soon. Transitioning Soldiers who are interested in participating should visit their installation Education Counselor for more information. The approval authority for participation in the Career Skills Program is the battalion/squadron commander.

What is a Career Skills Program?

A Career Skills Program (CSP) assists transitioning Soldiers gain a skill to make them "career ready" when they separate active service. Soldiers participate in a CSPs during their last 180 days of active service at their place of duty. CSPs can include job training, employment skills training, apprenticeship, or internships. There are currently pilot programs established on 13 installations. CSPs lead to direct employment opportunities. Ask your installation Education Services Officers if there is a CSP program at your installation.

Which schools offer in-state tuition for Veterans?

Student Veterans of America offers information on the status of state legislation regarding tuition rates for Veterans

Are there programs for active duty wounded, ill, or injured service members looking for education and employment opportunities?

The Department of Defense (DoD)'s Education and Employment Initiative (E2I) assists wounded, ill, and injured service members early in their recovery process. E2I helps these service members successfully transition to civilian life by helping identify their interests and skills and then matching them with education and career opportunities.

The 10 regional E2I coordinators—located across the country—work tirelessly with the military, federal agencies, private-sector businesses, and institutions to locate training, employment, and education opportunities for Wounded Warriors. Regional coordinators are available to develop career decisions, post-secondary/graduate/professional school plans, employment plans, and/or job search competencies.

But the commitment doesn’t end there. Throughout the entire recovery process, E2I coordinators provide expert education and career advice and guidance. The process continues until service members either return to duty or transition into a successful, productive civilian life.

Recovering service members looking for this type of opportunity, or transition coordinators who know of a recovering service member who would benefit from E2I, should email for more information.

Click to download an E2I Participation Request Form.

Who is eligible to participate in the Education and Employment Initiative (E2I) career counseling program?

Any wounded, ill, or injured active duty service member is eligible to participate in the E2I program. Participation is contingent upon approval by the branch of service. Send an email to E2I for help determining if the program is a good fit.

Who is eligible to participate in the Operation Warfighter (OWF) federal internship program?

Any wounded, ill, or injured active duty service member is eligible to participate in the OWF program. Participation is contingent upon approval by the branch of service. Send an email to OWF for help determining if the program is a good fit.


EMPLOYMENT

What is the best way for my business to connect with and hire a Veteran?

The Department of Labor's Veterans' Employment and Training Service (DOL VETS) partner with state workforce agencies to operate the American Job Center (AJC) network providing employment and training services to jobseekers and employers at about 2,500 locations nationwide. Around 1 million Veterans (14 million Americans total) received employment and training services at AJCs last year. These AJCs offer free employer services that include providing workforce information, writing job descriptions, reviewing applicants resumes, organizing job fairs, providing places to conduct interviews, pre-screening applicants, assessing applicants skills, and referral of job-ready candidates. These AJCs can also help you post your job openings nationally on the National Labor Exchange (NLx), www.us.jobs. All transitioning service members are encouraged to use this site to search for jobs. Please note that all DOL services at AJCs are paid by taxpayers and are provided free of charge to both jobseekers and employers.

What is the best way to find a job?

The Veteran Employment Center (VEC) is the federal government's authorive source for connecting transitioning Service Members, Veterans and their Families to meaningful career opportunities. Veterans and Family members can create profiles in the VEC in order to search career opportunities.

Are there programs for active duty wounded, ill, or injured service members looking for education and employment opportunities?

The Department of Defense (DoD)'s Education and Employment Initiative (E2I) assists wounded, ill, and injured service members early in their recovery process. E2I helps these service members successfully transition to civilian life by helping identify their interests and skills and then matching them with education and career opportunities.

The 10 regional E2I coordinators—located across the country—work tirelessly with the military, federal agencies, private-sector businesses, and institutions to locate training, employment, and education opportunities for Wounded Warriors. Regional coordinators are available to develop career decisions, post-secondary/graduate/professional school plans, employment plans, and/or job search competencies.

But the commitment doesn’t end there. Throughout the entire recovery process, E2I coordinators provide expert education and career advice and guidance. The process continues until service members either return to duty or transition into a successful, productive civilian life.

Recovering service members looking for this type of opportunity, or transition coordinators who know of a recovering service member who would benefit from E2I, should email for more information.

Click to download an E2I Participation Request Form.

Who is eligible to participate in the Education and Employment Initiative (E2I) career counseling program?

Any wounded, ill, or injured active duty service member is eligible to participate in the E2I program. Participation is contingent upon approval by the branch of service. Send an email to E2I for help determining if the program is a good fit.

Who is eligible to participate in the Operation Warfighter (OWF) federal internship program?

An wounded, ill, or injured active duty service member is eligible to participate in the OWF program. Participation is contingent upon approval by the branch of service. Send an email to OWF for help determining if the program is a good fit.


RETIREMENT

Retired Pay, Annuities, and Other Pays

Annuity for Certain Military Surviving Spouse

My spouse didn't take Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) when he retired. Do I qualify for a "Forgotten Widows Annuity?

No. Congress created the Annuity for Certain Military Surviving Spouses (ACMSS) for surviving spouses of military retirees who died before they were able to participate in the SBP or Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan (RCSBP). For more information, see Info Paper ACMSS.DOC

What is the Annuity for Certain Military Surviving Spouses (ACMSS)?

The ACMSS is a benefit created by Congress for the group of widows whose spouses died before they were able to participate in the SBP or RCSBP.

Career Status Bonus

What is the CSB?

The CSB is the $30,000 bonus Soldiers may elect to receive at their 15th year of service in return for a commitment to serve until 20 years and accepting the REDUX retired pay plan.

Who is eligible for CSB?

Active Duty and Active Guard and Reserve Soldiers with a DIEMS date on or after 1 AUG 1986.

What happens if I accept the CSB?

You must serve until you complete 20 years and you must accept the REDUX retired pay calculation.

Is the CSB taxable?

Yes. The CSB is subject to all income taxes. However, depending on where and when you elect and receive the CSB, it may be possible to receive the CSB tax-free. See AR 600-8-7 for details.

What if I'm past the 15th year of service and haven't made a CSB election?

You have 6 months from the date you're notified about the CSB to make a decision and sign the DD Form 2839 (CSB Election), even if that takes you past the 15-year mark. If you're already past 15 years and haven't been notified, see your installation Retirement Services Officer. As long as you have less than 18 years of service, you can still make the election.

What is the difference between the CSB/REDUX and High 3 retirements?

Between 20 and 30 years of service the REDUX retirement calculation uses a lower percentage multiplier than the High 3, so you'll receive less retired pay. Retired Soldiers whose retired pay is calculated using the REDUX formula also receive 1% less COLA each year than those who retired under a High 3 retirement. For more information, go to Which Ret Pay Plan.pdf

Combat Related Special Compensation (CRSC)

What is Combat Related Special Compensation (CRSC)?

CRSC is special compensation for a combat-related illness/injury caused by actual combat, simulated combat, hazardous duty, or instrumentalities of war. For more details, visit CRSC 

Who is eligible for CRSC?

To receive CRSC, you must be receiving retired pay for an active duty regular or medical retirement, a TERA retirement, or a Reserve non-regular retirement with 15 or more years of service AND have a VA disability rating of 10% or greater for an illness/injury that is combat-related (which you are waiving your retired pay to receive). For more information visit CRSC

How do I apply for CRSC?

For application details see the U.S. Army Human Resources Command's CRSC website

What is the difference between CRDP and CRSC?

CRSC and CRDP are awarded for similar, but different reasons. Retired Soldiers who are eligible for both must choose between them. See the comparison at http://www.dfas.mil/retiredmilitary/disability/comparison.html

Concurrent Retired and Disability Pay (CRDP)

What is Concurrent Retired and Disability Pay (CRDP)?

CRDP is sometime called "Concurrent Receipt." If a retired service member meets the eligibility criteria, and waived retired pay in order to receive disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs, DFAS will restore the retired pay of the member. For more information visit CRDP 

Who is eligible for CRDP?

To receive CRDP, you must be receiving retired pay for a length of service or medical retirement with 20 or more years of service or a TERA retirement AND have a VA disability rating of 50% or greater (which you are waiving your retired pay to receive).

How do I apply for CRDP?

You can't. DFAS and the VA compare files regularly. When you meet the criteria, DFAS will adjust your retired pay. For more information on visit CRDP

What is the difference between CRDP and CRSC?

CRSC and CRDP are awarded for similar, but different reasons. Retired Soldiers who are eligible for both must choose between them. See the comparison page for more information

Death of Soldier or Beneficiary

I'm a Retired Soldier and my spouse just died. What do I do? What happens to my benefits?

Though this is a difficult time, it's crucial to report the death promptly. Notify DFAS by calling 1-800-321-1080. You must send DFAS a copy of your spouse's death certificate showing cause of death. If you are paying Survivor Benefit Plan premiums from your retired pay for your spouse, DFAS will suspend the premiums. Additional information is online. If your spouse was collecting VA benefits, you should notify the Department of Veterans Affairs by calling 1-800-827-1000. You should also contact the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213.

My spouse, a Retired Soldier, just died. What do I do?

Though this is a difficult time, it's important to report the death of a military retiree promptly. Notify the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) either by calling 1-800-321-1080 or by completing the form online. Within 7-10 business days after reporting your spouse's death to DFAS, you should receive a letter containing a claim for unpaid compensation of your spouse along with annuity account forms and instructions (if your spouse was enrolled in the Survivor Benefit Plan or the Retired Serviceman's Family Protection Plan and elected you as the beneficiary).

My mother was receiving Survivor Benefit Plan annuity payments based on my father's military retired pay. She just passed away. What should I do?

Prompt reporting of a deceased military annuitant's death can help avoid delay and possible financial hardship to surviving family members or executors. Notify DFAS by calling 1-800-321-1080. Click here for detailed instructions.

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation

Can I receive Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) and Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) at the same time?

In most cases, the law prevents you from collecting both SBP and DIC at the same time, but you may receive some SBP if your amount is greater than the DIC payment. In this case you may also be eligible for the Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance. You may also be able to defer the SBP to your children and receive DIC yourself, so the same amount of benefits come into your household. There is a court case that allows surviving spouse's eligible for both SBP and DIC who remarry after age 57 to receive SBP and DIC without an offset. For more information, see VA Payments and SBP.

What is Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)?

DIC is a tax-free monetary benefit paid to either eligible survivors of military Servicemembers who died in the line of duty or eligible survivors of Veterans whose death resulted from a service-related injury or disease.

What is the Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance (SSIA)?

SSIA is a monthly special survivor indemnity allowance paid to a surviving spouse entitled to VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) whose Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) entitlement is offset by DIC in an amount at least equal to the SSIA amount payable. The surviving spouse of a Soldier who died on active duty who elects Child-Only SBP is not authorized SSIA.

Disability Pay

I medically retired with less than 20 years of service. Can I get both retired pay and disability pay?

Federal law precludes receiving both if you have less than 20 years of service, unless you were retired under the Temporary Early Retirement Authority. For more details visit concurrent retirement and disability pay (CRDP)

Divorce

How much of my retired pay is my former spouse entitled to?

State courts determine how much retired pay to award to a former spouse during a divorce from a military service member. For details, consult your Staff Judge Advocate or visit USFSPA

Do I have to send my former spouse a part of my retired pay each month, or will DFAS do that for me?

If you and your spouse were married for at least 10 years and that 10 years overlaps with 10 years of military service, your former spouse can apply to DFAS for direct remittance of the court-ordered division of retired pay. If both of these conditions are not met, DFAS will not provide direct remittance to your former spouse. For more detail, visit USFSPA

What rights do former spouses have?

The rights of former spouses of military members are listed in the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA), which you can read about at USFSPA

Other Pays

How does my retired pay affect my Social Security?

Generally, there is no reduction of Social Security benefits because of your military retirement benefits, because the Social Security Administration (SSA) doesn't collect premiums from military retired pay. If you served either on active duty after 1956 or inactive duty since 1988, you paid into Social Security as part of your service. For more information about Social Security benefits and military retirement, visit the SSA's military service site. To apply for Social Security benefits, click here.

Reserve Component Retirement and Points

How do I correct my Reserve Component retirement point statement?

The procedures are listed at Retirement Points Accounting System.

What is a Notice of Eligibility (NOE) for Retired Pay?

Commonly called the "20-Year Letter" (or 15-Year Letter for medical retirements), the NOE is the official notice provided to a Reserve Component Soldier that he or she has qualified for a nonregular retirement, usually at the age of 60.

I'm a RC Soldier who was mobilized for Iraq (or Afghanistan). Is it true I can retire early?

Yes, if you meet the qualifications. Federal law reduces nonregular retirement age 90 days for each 90-day increment you were on qualifying orders. Before 1 OCT 2014, 90-day periods COULD NOT cross fiscal year boundaries. As a result of the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, after 30 SEP 2014, 90-day periods can cross fiscal year boundaries. The maximum reduction is to age 50. For more information, see your state or Regional Support Command Retirement Services Officer. Note that full medical benefits start at age 60, even if you qualify for early retired pay. However, Gray Area Soldiers are eligible for the TRICARE Retired Reserve plan, which is not subsidized by the federal government.

How do they calculate nonregular retired pay?

Basically, once you serve 20 "good" years, you're eligible. Then all of the points in your personnel record are added up and divided by 360. That results in the number of years of creditable service, which is then multiplied by 2.5%. That figure is then multiplied by either your final month's basic pay or the average of the highest 36 months of basic pay, depending on which retired pay plan you're eligible for. Which years' pay tables you use for the calculation depends on whether you took a discharge when you completed your service or transferred into the Retired Reserve.

My retirement points statement is missing some points. How to I get it fixed?

Your National Guard State RPAM NCO or Army Reserve Unit Administrator can add the missing points to your record.

Do the Army National Guard or Army Reserve have anyone who helps RC Soldiers retire?

Yes. Army Reserve Retirement Services Officer's contact information is online (visit Reserve Component). The Army National Guard RSOs are listed on each state's resource locator at Resource Locator

I'm a RC Soldier, and I've got my 20-Year Letter. Should I take a discharge or go into the Retired Reserve?

If you take the discharge, you won't be called up, but you retired pay will be calculated using the pay chart in effect when you were discharged. If you go into the Retired Reserve, you'll be subject to recall, but your retired pay will be based on the pay chart in effect when you retire, including all the pay raises between when you entered the Gray Area and when you retired.

Retired Pay

I was recently transferred from the "Temporarily Disabled Retirement" list to the "Permanently Disabled Retired" list. What do I have to do? Will my benefits change?

You don't need to do anything. The Army notifies DFAS about the change. Your retired pay may change, but your other benefits will not. To learn more about your retired pay, review the online information from DFAS or call them directly at 1-800-321-1080. A Retirement Services Officer (RSO) can also answer your questions about the change. To locate the RSO closest to you, click here.

Can my retired pay be sent to my local bank overseas?

In many cases, yes. International direct deposit (IDD) is available in eligible locations overseas. To see the list, along with enrollment instructions, click here. My spouse, a Gray Area Soldier, passed away before receiving retired pay at age 60. What should I do?

Though this is a difficult time, it's important to report the death promptly. Call Human Resources Command at 1-888-276-9472. If your spouse was enrolled in the Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan, HRC will contact DFAS to start your SBP annuity.

How do I change the bank account where my retired pay goes?

You can update the direct deposit account information either using myPay or by calling DFAS at 1-800-321-1080. How do I access myPay?

Click here to connect with myPay. Once you have an account (required), you can log in using either your name and password or your Common Access Card (CAC). To create an account, click "Create an Account" (on the left under New User).

Taxes

How can I get a copy of my Form 1099R for my tax return?

You can download it through myPay or by calling DFAS at 1-800-321-1080. Click here for more tax-related information from DFAS.

Retirement Planning

Applying for Retirement

How do I apply for retired pay?

Active Duty Soldiers apply for retired pay through their installation Retirement Services Officer. AGR Soldiers apply through their component's chain of command. Gray Area Soldiers in the Retired Reserve apply for retired pay through the Reserve Component Retirements Branch at the Human Resources Command (888) 276-9472.

What Army regulation covers retirements?

For officers, look in chapter 6 of AR 600-8-24. For enlisted Soldiers, look in chapter 12 of AR 635-200.

Who do I talk to about submitting my retirement?

Talk to your local military personnel office or your DA assignments officer or NCO. You can find current versions of both regulations through the Army Publishing Directorate.

Dental Care

Where do I get dental care when I retire?

Dental care is separate from TRICARE's medical coverage. Retired Service Members and Families can purchase the TRICARE Retiree Dental Program or obtain civilian dental insurance. Get more information at TRDP

Employment

When should I start the SFL-Transition Assistance Program if I'm planning to retire.

You can start as early as 24 months before you plan to retire.

How do I know if there are any legal restrictions on my post-service employment?

Federal Benefits

What are all of my military retirement benefits?

You can find all your federal and state retirement benefits in the MyArmyBenefits Library

What benefits am I eligible for if I'm medically retired?

You can find all your federal and state retirement benefits in the MyArmyBenefits Library

What benefits am I eligible for when I retire from the Army National Guard?

You can find all your federal and state retirement benefits in the MyArmyBenefits Library

Can I shop at the PX and Commissary after I retire?

Yes. You'll need to show your ID card in the stores, and you can also shop online at Shop My Exchange

Is there a guide that can help me plan my retirement?

Yes. You can find the Army's Pre-Retirement Counseling Guide at Pre-retirement

Are Retired Soldiers eligible for Army Emergency Relief?

Yes. Retired Soldiers are eligible for AER assistance and can also contribute to AER through payroll deduction from their retired pay. For more information, visit AERHQ

When should I attend a pre-retirement briefing?

You may attend a pre-retirement briefing at any time, but Active Duty Soldiers should attend one no less than 12 months before they plan to start transition leave. Reserve Component Soldiers should attend one between their 18th and 20th year of service and again at least 13 months before they plan to start collecting retired pay, so they can submit their request to retire by 9 months before their retirement date. If you are married, you are strongly encouraged to take your spouse to the briefing. Your spouse will be transitioning from the Army with you and should be involved in the transition process.

ID Cards

When do I need to get my retired ID Card?

No later than your last day on active duty for Gray Area Soldiers, as soon as you start receiving retired pay.

How is a retired ID card different from a CAC?

Retired ID cards do not have the embedded chip that allows you to access secure websites to view your personal information. To access your personal information after you turn in your CAC at retirement, get a DS Logon account at http://myaccess.dmdc.osd.mil/identitymanagement/

Will my former spouse receive an ID card and benefits?

Generally, former spouses are eligible for an ID card and benefits if the marriage to the service member lasted 20 years or more, AND the member served 20 years or more of service creditable for retired pay, AND the marriage and the creditable service overlap 20 or more years. (In some cases, restricted benefits are authorized if the overlap is less than 20 but greater than 15.) For more information on former spouse military benefits go to USFSPA

Where can I get a new ID card?

You may obtain a new military ID card at many locations. The complete list is at the ID card site locator

Insurance

Will my Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (SGLI) continue after retirement?

Covered service members receive 120 days of free coverage from their date of separation. Coverage can be extended for up to two years if the Servicemember is totally disabled at separation. For more information about SGLI, including details on converting SGLI to Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI), click here

Leave & PTDY

Should I use my leave or sell it back before I retire?

>That depends on your personal situation. You may only sell 60 days of leave over your entire career. When you sell leave, you only receive your basic pay, not BAH, BAS, or special pays, which you will receive if you take the leave rather than selling it. For details, see your local finance office and AR 600-8-10, Leave and Pass Administrative Absences.

How much permissive TDY will I get before I retire?

Permissive TDY is taken at a commander's discretion and without cost to the government. You may receive 20 days if you are CONUS-based and retire in CONUS or are OCONUS-based and retire at the same OCONUS location. You'll receive 30 days if you are OCONUS-based and retire in CONUS or if you are in CONUS and joined the military from OCONUS and will return there. For details, see AR 600-8-10, Personnel Absences, Leaves and Passes.

Medical Care

What are my medical care options after retirement?

Retired Soldiers and their eligible dependents may receive military medical care through TRICARE, the US Family Health Plan, and, in some cases, though the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

What are my TRICARE options when I retire?

You may be eligible for one or more of 11 TRICARE health plans when you retire. For more information, see http://www.tricare.mil/Plans/HealthPlans.aspx

What is the US Family Health Plan?

US Family Health Plan is one option of the Military Health System known as TRICARE. The US Family Health Plan program was selected by the Department of Defense to be a provider of TRICARE Prime. As a US Family Health Plan member, you receive all the benefits offered by the TRICARE Prime program. The US Family Health Plan providers began as US Public Health Service hospitals. For more information, see http://www.usfhp.com/

Do I have to take a retirement physical?

Yes. Army policy requires all retiring Soldiers to complete a retirement physical between 6 months and 1 month before starting transition leave. For more information see AR 40-501, par. 8-24f.

Should I get a copy of my medical records before I retire?

Yes. Before you retire, obtain a complete copy of all medical and dental records for you and all family members.

Am I still eligible for TRICARE when I retire?

Yes. For specifics about TRICARE plans and your eligibility for each one, see Tricare Plans Eligibility

How much does TRICARE cost Retired Soldiers?

TRICARE Prime costs a single Retired Soldier $277.92 per year and a family $555.84 per year (FY2015 rates) plus some copayments (details are online). TRICARE Extra and Standard have no annual premiums, but do have a $150/year deductible for a single Retired Soldier and $300/year for a family plus cost shares listed at Tricare Health Plan costs

Are Reservists eligible for medical care while they are in the Gray Area?

Yes. For more information, visit Tricare Health Plans

Are Retired Soldiers eligible for dental care?

Yes, they are covered by the TRICARE Retiree Dental Plan

Moving

Can I delay shipping my household goods until after I retire?

Normally, you can delay the shipment of your household goods for one year, which can be extended under some circumstances. For more details, talk to your local transportation office or read DoD Travel Reg 4500.9.

If I move to a new home, who do I need to tell?

Always notify DFAS when you move. You can update your correspondence address and email address by logging into myPay, by calling DFAS at 1-800-321-1080, or by calling your local RSO (visit RSO). If I change my email address, who do I need to tell?

Always notify DFAS when you change your email address. You can update your email address and your correspondence address by logging into myPay, by calling DFAS at 1-800-321-1080, or by calling your local RSO (visit RSO).

Retired Pay, Annuities, and Other Pays

What is a DIEMS date?

DIEMS is the Date of Initial Entry into Military Service. It's the date of enlistment, induction, or appointment in a regular or Reserve Component of a uniformed service. The DIEMS date determines which retired pay plan a service member receives.

Which retired pay plan am I under?

Determine your DIEMS date by looking at your Leave and Earnings Statement (LES). If your DIEMS date is before 8 SEP 1980, your retired pay will be calculated using the Final Pay Plan. Between 8 Sep 1980 and 31 JUL 1986 you're covered by the High 3 Pay Plan. After 1 Aug 1986, you're covered by the High 3 Pay Plan if you did NOT accept the Career Status Bonus and by the REDUX Pay Plan if you did.

How far out should I apply for retirement?

Under normal circumstances, Active Duty officers must apply at least 9 months before the start of transition leave. They cannot apply more than 12 months before the desired retirement date. Active Duty enlisted Soldiers must apply between 9 and 12 months before the desired retirement date. Reserve Component Soldiers should apply for retirement 9 months before they plan to start collecting retired pay.

Do I get the annual pay raise if I retire on 1 JAN?

This only affects Soldiers retiring under the Final Pay Plan. To be under the Final Pay Plan, your Date Initially Entered Military Service (DIEMS) must be on or before 7 SEP 1980. Officers use the new year's pay scale if they retire voluntarily and qualify for retirement at least one day before their retirement date. Enlisted Soldiers use the new pay scale. Warrant Officers can't use the new pay scale (see par. 0104 of DOD FMR 7000-14.R, Vol 7B).

How much will my retired pay be?

To calculate retirement pay, visit Benefit Calculator

Is retired pay taxable?

Military retired pay is not subject to Social Security or Medicare taxes, but it is subject to federal taxes. It may or may not be taxed by your state. To be sure, see the MyArmyBenefits fact sheet for your state at State Territory Benefits

Is there a good retired pay calculator?

Yes. The MyArmyBenefits retired pay calculator uses your personal data pulled from DEERS to provide you an accurate retired pay estimate. It also pulls data from RPAS and RPAM for Reserve Component Soldiers.

What is "Arrears of Pay"? Who gets it?

Arrears of Pay is a one-time payment made to a beneficiary after your death. The arrears of pay payment to your beneficiary will include the pro-rated amount of your final month's pay, and any other money owed to you at the time of your death. You may designate who will receive your arrears of pay (for instructions, visit AOP Beneficiary). If you do not designate a beneficiary, the federally mandated order of inheritance that applies to legacies without a designated beneficiary will be used. For more information, go to AOP

How soon after I retire will my retired pay start?

It takes DFAS approximately 30 days to process applications for retired pay after they are received from the branch of service. Typically, the first payment is the first day of the month after at least 30 days following your retirement date. For example, if you retired on June 30, your retired pay will likely start on August 1.

State Benefits

Do states offer benefits in addition to federal benefits?

Yes. You can find your state or territory's benefits at http://myarmybenefits.us.army.mil/Home/Benefit_Library/State__Territory_Benefits.html

Thrift Savings Plan

What happens with my military Thrift Savings Program (TSP) investment when I retire?

You may no longer contribute to your military TSP. You may leave your money in the TSP, roll it over into another retirement account, or withdraw it. If you withdraw money from your TSP account before a certain age, you may be subject to early withdrawal penalties. For details, consult with a qualified tax advisor.

Veteran Benefits

How do I apply for a VA disability pay?

There are 8 steps to the VA disability process listed at http://www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/process.asp

How do I apply for VA benefits?

The process for applying for VA benefits is explained at http://benefits.va.gov/BENEFITS/Applying.asp

How do I contact the VA?

You can contact the VA by phone, email, or mail using the information at http://www.va.gov/landing2_contact.htm

What Veterans benefits am I eligible for when I retire?

You can find all your Veterans benefits at http://benefits.va.gov/benefits/

When should I apply for VA disability?

You may apply either while you're still on active duty or after you retire. For more information, visit http://www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/types-claims.asp

How much is VA disability compensation?

VA disability compensation rates are available at http://www.benefits.va.gov/COMPENSATION/resources_comp01.asp

Is VA disability pay taxable?

No

Should I convert my SGLI to VGLI when I retire?

That depends on your personal situation. For healthy individuals, civilian life insurance is usually cheaper. You should compare VGLI to civilian life insurance before you decide. For more information on VGLI, visit http://www.benefits.va.gov/insurance/

I have questions about my VA benefits. Where can I get answers?

There are a number of ways to find answers. You can call using a toll-free number, or visit a nearby VA location. You can also review the VA's frequently asked questions (FAQs).

How do I find a VA facility?

You can search for a VA location online.

Available Death Benefits

Federal Burial Benefits

Who is eligible for burial at Arlington Cemetery?

Arlington National Cemetery's eligibility requirements for burial and inurnment are different from other national cemeteries maintained by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Eligibility for in-ground burial at Arlington National Cemetery is the most stringent of all U.S. national cemeteries. For detailed information see Establishing Eligibility

Can my spouse be buried with me at Arlington Cemetery?

Yes. For eligibility details, see Establishing Eligibility

VA Burial Benefits

Am I eligible for burial at a VA national cemetery?

The VA's eligibility requirements for burial in a national cemetery are detailed at Eligibility

VA Benefits

Disability Pay

As a Reserve Component Soldier, when can I file for VA Disability Pay?

You can file a claim for disability compensation with the VA either while you're still in uniform (using the Benefits Delivery at Discharge (BDD) program), when you're in the Gray Area, or after you've started receiving retired pay. However, the VA has specific eligibility rules for applying for disability pay; read them here. Once you've decided, the VA suggests you apply online for disability compensation

Retired Pay

I'm a Gray Area Retiree collecting VA disability pay. How does this affect my retired pay when I turn 60?

Your retired pay may be affected, like any Retired Soldier's pay, if your VA disability rating is less than 50%. For more information, click here

Other Benefits

Federal Benefits

Can I still use Space A travel now that I'm retired?

Yes. For details, including eligibility information, visit the Air Mobility Command (AMC) Travel site and scroll down to Are you ready to travel Space-A?

Medical Care

I live overseas, so why do I have to sign up for Medicare Part B when I can't use it here?

To have medical coverage while overseas, you must have Medicare Part B to be eligible for TRICARE For Life. When you are registered for both Medicare Part B and TRICARE For Life, TRICARE For Life acts like TRICARE Standard overseas, providing you medical coverage.

I'm retired. Will my spouse still get medical care after I die?

Surviving spouses remain eligible for TRICARE, with the same health plan options and costs, until they remarry. Children remain eligible until they age-out or lose eligibility for TRICARE for other reasons. For specific details, click here or call TRICARE directly

I have questions about medical care post-retirement. Who can answer those?

TRICARE can answer your questions. Click here to find the number for your regional or overseas TRICARE contractor.

I'll be 65 soon. How will Medicare affect my TRICARE?

That depends, in part, on whether you choose Medicare Part B or not. For information about understanding what you need to do to remain eligible for TRICARE, click here

Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP)

SBP Basics

Do I have to participate in the SBP?

No, but if you don't elect to cover your spouse for the full "base amount," by law you'll need his/her notarized concurrence on the SBP election form. If you do not want to participate in the SBP, you must make an election prior to retirement declining coverage or DFAS will enroll you in the SBP automatically.

Do I have to pay for SBP forever?

No. After you've made 360 monthly payments AND are age 70, you're paid in full. At that time, DFAS will stop collecting premiums.

Do SBP premiums increase?

Yes. SBP premiums increase each year by the same percentage as retired pay.

How do I calculate my SBP premiums and annuity?

Use the SBP calculator at MyArmyBenefits

How much do survivors receive from the SBP?

Survivors receive 55% of the "base amount" the Retired Soldier elected to cover, usually the full retired pay.

How much does the SBP cost?

The SBP premium for spouse coverage is 6.5% of the "base amount" the Retiring Soldier elected, usually the full retired pay. The cost for child coverage is much less and depends on the age of the youngest child. To determine actual costs, use the SBP calculator at MyArmyBenefits

If I elect child coverage are the children of my previous marriage covered?

When you elect child coverage or spouse and child coverage, all eligible children are covered, including children from a previous marriage or relationship. For more information see Child Coverage.

Is SBP taxable?

The Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) deducts your SBP premiums from your retired pay before calculating your taxes, so you receive a tax benefit. The SBP annuity your survivors will receive will be taxable as unearned income. For more information, see SBP and Taxes Dec 13.

What is Insurable Interest SBP?

Insurable Interest SBP is available only if you are unmarried with either one or no dependent children. It is for a relative or business associate who would be financially affected by your death. For more details, see Interest Coverage

What is the Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan (RCSBP)?

RCSBP is an annuity paid to survivors of Reserve Component Soldiers who participate in the program and die after completing 20 qualifying years for retirement, but before they begin receiving retired pay.

What is the SBP?

The SBP is the only way military members can leave a portion of their military retired pay to their survivors. For details, see SBP

When do I have to make a decision about the SBP?

You must make your SBP election on a DD Form 2656 (Data for Payment of Retired Personnel) before the date you are placed on the retired list. If you are a Reserve Component Soldier, you must make your RCSBP election within 90 days of receiving your 15- or 20-year letter.

How long will SBP last my survivors?

Spouses receive the SBP annuity until they die, unless they remarry before they turn age 55. If that marriage ends in divorce or the death of the new spouse, the SBP annuity can be reinstated. Children receive the SBP annuity until they turn 18 (22 if they are fulltime unmarried college students), or until they die if they became incapacitated while eligible to receive the SBP annuity.

When should I attend a SBP briefing?

You may attend a SBP briefing at any time, but Active Duty Soldiers should attend one no less than 12 months before they plan to start transition leave. Reserve Component Soldiers should attend one between their 18th and 20th years of service and again at least 13 months before they plan to start collecting retired pay. If you are married, you are strongly encouraged to take your spouse to the briefing. Your spouse will be transitioning from the Army with you and should be involved in the transition process. You can review the DA SBP Briefing slides at DA SBP Brief Sep 14 Final.

Do SBP premiums increase?

Yes. SBP premiums, the SBP annuity paid to survivors, and retired pay all receive the same full annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA

I need a form for the Survivor benefit Plan. Where can I get one?

The form you need, called Department of Defense Form 2656, is available in a number of versions. Which version you use depends on what you need to do. . Your retirement services officer (RSO) can also help.

How do I get my Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) pay started?

To begin your SBP annuity account, you must apply to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS). For detailed instructions, click here.

My 20-year-letter says I have to make a Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) election. What are my choices?

You have three options, all of which are detailed in this brochure/ Before you make your election, talk with your Retirement Services Officer (RSO) before you. Your RSO is at your Army Reserve Regional Support Command or state National Guard headquarters. To search for RSOs by location, click here

SBP After Retirement

Can I get out of the SBP?

Yes, but there are only two times you can get out: either between the 25th and 36th month after you start to pay premiums or if the VA rates you as totally disabled for a certain length of time. For more information, see Withdrawal from SBP Dec 13

I'm retired. Can I take SBP for my new child?

If you had no children when you retired, you can take SBP for the first eligible child after retirement. You must notify DFAS within one year of adding him/her to your family by sending the birth, adoption certificate or other legal documents verifing the child's status as your child and your request for child SBP coverage. If you already had child SBP coverage, to add the child you just need to notify the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) by sending the birth, adoption certificate or other legal documents verifing the child's status as your child.

When I retired, I did not elect SBP for my spouse. Can I take it now?

If you were married when you retired and you didn't take SBP for your spouse, you cannot take SBP for any a subsequent spouse.

By mistake, I retired without making an SBP election. Now DFAS is taking SBP premiums out of my retired pay. Can I make an election now?

Yes. By law, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) automatically enrolled you at the maximum amount for all your eligible dependents at the date of retirement. Contact the closest installation Retirement Services Office for assistance. Click here to locate an RSO. Can I change my SBP election?

In some cases. Contact your installation Retirement Services Officer for details. Click here to locate an RSO.

Spouse and Former Spouse Questions

Does my current spouse need to concur if I elect SBP for my former spouse when I retire?

No, but the Retirement Service Officer is required to notify your current spouse of the former spouse election.

Does my current spouse need to concur if I elect SBP for my former spouse when I retire?

No, but the Retirement Service Officer is required to notify your current spouse of the former spouse election.

I just got divorced. How can I change my SBP election to my former spouse as the court ordered?

Within one year of your divorce, submit a DD Form 2656-1 (Survivor Benefit Plan Election for Former Spouse Coverage) to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) with a copy of the divorce decree and any subsequent court orders. For more information review Former Spouse Coverage Dec 13.

My divorce decree says my spouse has to take the SBP for me when he retires from the military. How do I get it if he doesn't?

You can "deem" (or take ownership of) the election within one year of either the date of divorce or the date he retires, whichever is later. For more information, see Former Spouse Coverage Dec 13

My spouse died. Can I get my SBP payments back?

No. You received SBP coverage for those premiums. Notify the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) of your spouse's death and premiums will be suspended. If you remarry, you can choose to resume SBP coverage for your new spouse.

My spouse died. Do I have to keep paying SBP premiums?

No. Send the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) a copy of your spouse's death certificate and they will suspend payments. If you remarry, you can resume coverage.

My spouse is the same sex as me. Does that affect eligibility for SBP?

No. Same-sex spouses have the same eligibility for SBP as traditional spouses.

Where can I find information about the SBP for my former Spouse?

See our Former Spouse SBP fact sheet at Former Spouse Coverage Dec 13.pdf

Does my spouse have to agree with my SBP election?

If you elect anything other than the maximum SBP coverage allowable by law for your spouse, he/she must sign your DD Form 2656 (SBP Election), and the signature must be notarized. Otherwise, by law, DFAS must enroll you for the maximum coverage.

Staying Connected to the Army

Army Echoes

I don't want Army Echoes by email. Can you mail it to me instead?

Army policy is to email Army Echoes to all Retired Soldiers and SBP annuitants who have an email address in their myPay account. Those who don't have a myPay account or who do not have an email address listed will receive Echoes by mail at the address on file at DFAS. For now, all Gray Area Soldiers will receive Echoes by mail at the address on file at US Army Human Resources Command.

How do I tell the editor of Army Echoes that I've moved or changed my email address?

You don't need to. If you are receiving pay from DFAS, update your email address using myPay or by calling 1-800-321-1080. Gray Area Soldiers should update Human Resources Command by calling 1-888-276-9472. Echoes is sent to addresses on file at DFAS and HRC.

Where can I get old copies of Army Echoes?

You can read copies of Echoes from 1996 to present at Echoes Issues

How do I subscribe to Army Echoes?

That depends on your status (e.g., Soldier, Retired Soldier, Gray Area Soldier). Complete instructions are at Echoes

Where can I read the new Army Echoes

You can read copies of Echoes from 1996 to present at Echoes Issues

What is Army Echoes?

Army Echoes is the Army's official newsletter for Retired Soldiers, Surviving Spouses, and their Families.

Records

What are my responsibilities as a Gray Area Soldier?

Ensure that your contact information and marital/family status are up to date at U.S. Army Human Resources Command. This information affects your Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan and HRC's ability to contact you about your retirement. Call HRC at 1-888-276-9472.

Where can I get a copy of my DD Form 214 or personnel records?

That depends on when you retired. U.S. Army Human Resources Command explains all of the options available to you at Accessing or Requesting Your Official Military Personnel File Documents

Where can I get a copy of my medical records?

Soldiers who retired after 1 SEP 1992 should contact the VA's Records Management Center (RMC) through their local VA office, online through eVetRecs, or at (888) 533-4558. Soldiers who retired prior to 1 SEP 1992 must complete a Military Record Request Standard Form (SF) 180 to obtain their medical/dental records, which are stored at the National Archives & Records Administration's National Personnel Records Center. For more information, visit Military Service Records

How do I update my address or email address?

The fastest way to update the information is using myPay. (Note: Gray Area Soldiers, must call Human Resources Command at 1-888-276-9472.) For a list of all methods for updating your contact information, click here.

Retiree Appreciation Days

What is a Retiree Appreciation Day (RAD)?

A RAD is a day when an Army installation or garrison's leadership welcomes Retired Soldiers, recognizes them for their service, provides selected personnel and health services to them, and updates them about recent changes in the Army and their benefits. Each installation/garrison holds an annual RAD.

Volunteering

I want to volunteer on base. How can I do that?

Contact the local installation volunteer coordinator to learn about available opportunities. Beyond that, Army OneSource provides a wealth of information about voluteering for the Army. You can also volunteer with the VA.

Who Can I Talk To?

Retirement Services Officer

Who can I talk to about retirement benefits?

You can talk to your local Retirement Services Officer (see RSO) or you can call the MyArmyBenefits help desk at (703) 286-2560 or (888) 721-2769, Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Eastern).

How do I find the closest Army Retirement Services Officer?

The contact information for Soldier for Life Retirement Services Officers is at RSO