Ask Joe, Your Benefits Guru Says…Reserve Retired Pay Is Not Automatic!

An older gentleman wearing a “Vietnam Veteran” ball cap approached the MyArmyBenefits team in a Midwest hotel where they were conducting Army Reserve Pre-Retirement counseling. After ascertaining why they were there, he brightened up and said he’d been a drilling reservist for 27 years, had a twenty year letter and his 60th birthday was 13 months ago, but he still hadn’t received any retired pay. Could they help?

A lot of National Guard and Reserve Soldiers believe when they hit the magic Six-Oh the money truck will back up to their door and the retirement checks will start rolling in. Nice idea but not true. To get the retirement check started, all Soldiers must first apply for it. It’s not automatic.

To download the application you can go to Component Retirements or call the Human Resources Command (HRC) Customer Service 888 276 9472, or email at

You’ll receive a packet that contains DD Forms 108 and 2656, 4 pages of instructions, and a current retirement point value matrix for the calculation of retired pay. This application must be completed and submitted to HRC 9 months prior (but not less than 90 days) before your retired pay eligibility date to ensure payment in a timely manner. Some states require ARNG Soldiers to submit their application through their state headquarters rather than directly to HRC.

As in all things, there are some wrinkles you might want to be aware of. Some Soldiers who are drilling up to their 60th birthday will set their retirement date for one day prior to their birthday to satisfy the requirement to be in the Retired Reserve (Grey Area) for at least one day prior to actual retirement. They do this since they are eligible to start receiving retired pay on their birthday and they can avoid losing one day of pay.

On the other hand, some Soldiers will continue to drill if they have been promoted after age 57 to sergeant first class or lieutenant colonel or above and schedule their retirement for their 60th birthday and not one day earlier. They do this so that their Mandatory Removal Date (MRD) invokes involuntarily retirement, allowing retirement at their current grade with less than three years time-in-grade (TIG). This means they will forfeit one day’s retired pay to fulfill the requirement to serve at least one day in the Retired Reserve (Grey Area) before attaining actual paid retirement.

Retirement applications may be submitted to HRC at any time. As long as our Vietnam Vet’s after-the-fact application is less than 6 years from his 60th birthday, DFAS will disburse his full back pay. Unfortunately, for every day after 6 years, one day’s retired pay is lost for each day of delay in filing the application.

So remember, Reserve Component Soldiers, when it comes to retirement pay, you won’t get what you don’t ask for!