There are significant differences between medical separation and medical retirement from service. Knowing these differences and pushing forward with the information needed to be your own best advocate is incredibly important, because the impact is lifelong!
What is the Process?
A service member is at the point of moving to medical separation or medical retirement when they are suffering from a condition(s) that is affecting their daily ability to perform their duties. This/these conditions can be related to physical OR mental health.
A service member may recognize their inability to perform required daily duties and will see a healthcare professional to seek care or next steps. It is also possible for a commander to notice the service member’s condition or inability to adequately perform job duties and require the member to receive a mandatory examination.
The examination will lead to one of two outcomes; the doctor deems that member is still fit and should return for duty, or is unfit for duty due to the conditions. If deemed unfit to return to duty, the case is then referred to the Physical Evaluation Board.
Physical Evaluation Board
The Physical Evaluation Board (PEB) is comprised of physicians who review the case and determine if the member should be returned to duty (sometimes with new assignments or limitations, medical treatment, etc.), temporarily disabled (for a condition that could improve with treatment and time), separated, or retired.
It is important to note that this process is with the Department of Defense at this point, and not Veteran Affairs.
If the ratings assigned to the member from the condition are less than 30%, and/or there are less than 20 years of service, the member will be medically separated from the military. Department of Defense (DOD) ratings are different from VA ratings in that DOD ratings are based on time in service, the member’s rank, and the severity of the condition at the time of examination. DOD ratings stay the same for a lifetime, while VA service-connected ratings reflect the severity of the condition and can increase or decrease.
Benefits & Consequences of Medical Separation
- Disability severance pay will equal the years of service multiplied by two times the monthly base pay
- The severance pay is distributed in one lump sum
- The DOD disability rating (less than 30%) is permanent / HAS to be from the conditions you are being separated for and not the total amount of conditions you may have
- Tricare will terminate 6 months after separation
If the ratings assigned to the member from the condition are more than 30%, or they have 20 or more years of service, the member can be medically retired from service.
Benefits of Medical Retirement
- All benefits of traditional military retirement for the service member and their family
- Monthly military pension
- Potentially qualify for concurrent retirement and disability payments (CRDP) as a disabled veteran, if conditions are met
Important to Remember
- There is a significant difference between separation and retirement.
- The VA claim process is separate from this DOD separation or retirement process
- While the separation severance pay (as it’s a lump sum) can look very enticing, the long-term benefits are much better with retirement.
- DOD will evaluate whether the condition existed before service. If so, the member may not be entitled to disability compensation, separation, or retirement.
- <30% = M Separation
- >30% = M Retirement
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