Military retirement marks a point in transitioning that requires a bit more planning and preparation than other milestones. Luckily, the military is on your side and does its best to prepare military and families for
that ultimate transition to civilian life: military retirement. After all, it has likely been at least 20 years since families of a career-driven service member lived in one location for more than three years.
While a few VA retirement benefits will overlap with common veteran’s benefits, retirees receive a few extra benefits that only 20 years time in service can grant.
First things first: don’t forget to apply for a veterans retirement ID card. Unlike veterans serving less than 20 years, who have limited options in obtaining a veterans ID card, retired military veterans can be eligible to receive a DD Form 2 ID card, which is blue in color. See the Military and Veteran ID cards page for more information.
Next are military retirement benefits. Detailed information about these VA benefits can be found at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Anything that requires a form for enrollment, such as VA Health Care and the GI Bill, can be found at eBenefits.
Retirement Pay – Military retirement pay is dependent on the number of years served and when the service member enlisted. A breakdown of how military retirement pay is calculated can be found at “Understanding Military Retirement Pay.” This also includes a breakdown of retirement COLA and CBS/Redux. Military retirement pay can be managed on the DFAS website.
Disability – All disability is calculated on a per case basis. Disability claims must be submitted to the VA and processed; one claim per separate injury.
Veterans Group Life Insurance – The VGLI is just one type of life insurance available to retired veterans. The VA also offers Service-Disabled Veteran Insurance, or S-DVI, as well as Veterans Mortgage Life Insurance, which aids in the settling of a mortgage in the event of death. There is also Financial Aid Counseling for beneficiaries as well as assistance in online will preparation.
VA Home Loan – The VA Home Loan is not only available to veterans, but to their surviving spouses as well. Active duty service members may also be eligible for this loan, which may be something to consider when approaching retirement.
VA Health Care – Enrollment can be done online or in person at a local VA Medical Center, at which time eligibility is determined. This health care is only coverage for the veteran. Additional health insurance would be necessary for dependents.
VA Dental Care – Although dental care through the VA is limited, it is available to veterans with a service-connected dental disability. A single visit is also available through for veterans within 180 days of discharge if a full dental examination was not conducted prior to discharge.
GI Bill® – Education benefits are available for eligible veterans, or for their family members should they choose to transfer benefits. More information on the GI Bill can be found on our Veterans Education Page. Most likely, if you are a retired military veteran, you will receive 100% of your GI Bill benefits. This can be an opening step to your civilian career post military.
Veterans Discounts – Many businesses offer discounts that favor retirees. We’ve compiled lists of the most popular military and veterans discounts, which vary based on the business and the location.
For more information on veterans benefits available to you, visit the websites of the city, county, and state you reside in. These should have information on state and local benefits offered to veterans and retirees who live in those areas.
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Natalie Zummo is a US Army veteran and wife of a Marine Corps veteran. She is currently living with her husband and son in New Hampshire, writing and studying in her free hours. Natalie holds a Master’s degree in Psychology and is underway to a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, with a focus on Military Counseling.