If you have chosen to retire or separate from the Army, we thank you for your dedicated service. All of our Soldiers deserve the best possible start in the civilian world when the time comes to leave the Army, and our Cadre will help facilitate a seamless transition to The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) – a VA representative will help you understand, apply for and receive the benefits in which you are eligible.
Before out-processing from the Army, it is important to spend the time to prepare for your transition, such as establishing a financial plan, assessing the potential impacts of relocating, understanding your education, training, and employment options, as well as understanding how to apply for and access your benefits.
If you have not already established a budget, it is strongly recommended that you establish one so you can assess what the financial impacts will be when you transition from active duty and are reliant upon your Army retirement pay and/or VA disability pay. Only Soldiers who have served 20 years of active duty receive both Army retirement and VA disability pay. Soldiers with less than 20 years of service receive whichever of the two is the higher amount.
Are you planning on moving to a new location or living in the same area? You should carefully consider cost of living when planning your transition. While staying where you currently live (prior to separating) may be appealing, keep in mind that you will no longer be compensated for the cost of living through your housing allowance.
Some websites provide cost of living calculators that provide estimates on how far your salary will go in various cities across the United States. Transition Advisors in the Transition Assistance Advisory (TAA) Program or Relocation Program Specialists at the Solder and Family Assistance Center (SFAC) can also help you access additional information and resources.
While you are still active duty, you should:
Have you established an eBenefits and DS Logon account ? You will need this account to access and track many of your VA and DOD benefits such as TRICARE insurance. It’s much easier to establish this account while you are still on active duty and have a Common Access Card (CAC).
For additional information on Veteran benefits such as the Post-9/11 GI Bill, Survivor Benefit Plan, and Social Security Disability, visit our Veterans – Pay and Benefits page.
When out-processing from the Army, it is important to:
When transitioning to the VA, you will be assigned to a VA nurse case manager. Once you receive your retirement orders, you can also apply for a VA caregiver. The VA nurse case manager is your primary point of contact at the VA for all your medical care and medication needs during your transition; therefore, it is critical to maintain frequent and ongoing communications with your VA nurse case manager.
Below is a list of related and helpful resources for Veterans and Soldiers transitioning from the Army. If you have questions or need additional assistance, please contact us or your VA representative.
What benefits do I have as an AW2 Soldier or Veteran?
Will I receive both Army retirement and VA disability since my injuries are combat-related?
When do I apply for Combat Related Special Compensation (CRSC)?
How long will it take for the VA to start paying my disability pay?
Should I get an attorney to help with my VA claim?
When can I appeal or re-open my VA claim for a higher rating?
When will my COAD/COAR be completed?
How long will I receive Special Compensation for Assistance with Activities of Daily Living (SCAADL), now that my spouse is taking care of me?
How long should I wait before contacting the U.S. Army Physical Disability Agency (USAPDA) about my Temporary Disability Retirement List (TDRL) exam?
What do I do if my household goods shipment entitlement is about to expire after one year of retirement?
If you are a part of our U.S. Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2) as an AW2 Soldier or AW2 Veteran, you have advocacy services through your AW2 Advocate. They will be able to help you find resources, advise you on benefits and serve as a coach as you transition. Your AW2 Advocate has access to subject matter experts that can help with specific question or issues on finance, education and employment, human resources, etc.
Only Soldiers who have completed 20 years of active duty service are authorized the Concurrent Receipt Disability Pay (CRDP). For those with less than 20 years of active duty service, the higher of the two between Army retirement and VA disability pay is authorized. Eligible Soldiers may apply for Combat Related Special Compensation (CRSC), which is a separate pay that can be claimed for VA-rated injuries that are combat-related.
The time it takes to process disability pay varies on a case-by-case basis. Within the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES), Soldiers are given a proposed VA rating, which is considered a ‘draft’ with no official standing until they are medically retired. Following medical retirement, his/her case is given final consideration for a rating, and the processing time can vary based on the complexity of the case. For Soldiers that separated from the Army without having gone through a medical evaluation board (MEB), their claims cannot be submitted until they are truly a Veteran. This processing time can also vary based on the complexity of the case.
In most cases, it is not necessary to get assistance from an attorney. However, many Veterans choose to get free assistance from organizations such as the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) , Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFV) , and the Military Order of the Purple Heart . These organizations will typically ask you to sign a limited power of attorney, which will allow them to speak with the VA on your behalf. They can help you determine status, ask the VA to reconsider the severity of your rated ailments, and help you with other support actions. For more information regarding these organizations and their advocacy services, please visit their website.
You can appeal or re-open your VA claim after you are discharged from the Army/Guard/Reserve; preferably within one year of your discharge date.
Continuation of Active Duty (COAD)/Continuation on Active Reserve (COAR) will be completed by the time you receive your final DA Form 199.
The SCAADL allowance may continue for up to 90 days after your medical retirement date. This allows time for the VA Caregiver program to go through its stages of the approval process. If and when the VA Caregiver pay starts, SCAADL will end.
Contact USAPDA if you don’t hear from them after three years.
Your entitlement to ship your household goods expires after 12 months. However, that can be extended year by year by submitting a letter to the local Joint Personal Property Shipping Office (JPPSO) office citing rationale for the extension. Reasons could include the job market, a child who is a senior in high school, real estate sales problems, etc.