Military · veteran

The things they don’t tell you about your Retirement/Separation from the Air Force

Air Force Retirement/Separation Information (Active duty & AGR)

marcy retire 3

Retiring or separating from the Air Force is not only an exciting time, it’s also a very stressful time. It’s a huge chapter in your life that is coming to a close. I just retired on April 1, 2016 and there were so many things that happened to me that I was not prepared for.  So I figured I would share it with you.  I know each base has their own process, but one of the biggest things when you retire is you have to make sure you do all of your out-processing. Now I did all of mine and I still had issues.  But there were a few tricks in between that no one briefed me.

Marcy retire1
My Commander at my retirement lunch (I was 6 months pregnant in this picture)


Retired pay

Of course the most important thing is making sure your paperwork is ready so that your retired pay will start on time.  The DD Form 2656 DATA FOR PAYMENT OF RETIRED PERSONNEL, is turned into either AFPC or ARPC (depending on your component). I applied for retirement exactly 1 year out and was able to make sure my paperwork was completed. I submitted everything online using v-PC (virtual- Personnel Center).   The most important item on the DD Form 2656 is your direct deposit information.  Make sure you get that right!  The second most important item is your Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) election. I opted to not pay into SBP because I have some life annuities and life insurance programs that are actually better monetarily for my family if something were to happen to me. However, it is a great program that that pays your spouse or children (depending on who you elect) 55% of your retired pay if you were to pass away. For example, if you make $2200 for your retired pay, then your spouse will get $1210.  This is paid to them until they re-marry or pass away.

Another important thing was completing the pay paperwork with your finance office.  It’s a lot of duplicate information, but it is a necessary to complete. I was assigned to an Air National Guard unit and our servicing active duty pay office was Edwards AFB, CA. So my paperwork was forwarded to them.  I completed it 6 months in advance mind you and I still had pay issues.   Sadly, my pay was still delayed over 3 months. BE ADVISED your final pay check is always withheld for 2 weeks to see if you have any federal debts. So your final LES will show $0 (zero). Don’t panic, this is normal. But months is crazy! I watched so many people retire before me and they all received their first retirement check on time (the first of the month after you retire). That is what should happen if your paperwork is processed timely.  However, mine was completed early….so I had no idea why mine was delayed. My leave sell back also took 3 months which is crazy! Make sure you follow-up! When there’s a 3rd party involved things get ugly.



One thing I didn’t know was that my MyPers account can be used into retirement.  And there’s a big reason why!  But a big thing to remember is BEFORE you separate you need to make sure to create a MyPers username and password because you will no longer have a CAC card to log into your account.  This MUST be done BEFORE you separate!! The reason for this is so you do not have to wait for your DD 214 to come in the mail.  The day after you retire you can access your DD 214 in MyPERs.  It’s so easy!! You need your DD 214 for various things like filing a Veteran’s Affairs (VA) disability compensation claim, unemployment, job applications etc.

Once you officially retire you also have to update your profile to show “retiree”. Then it switches your home page for you.  There isn’t much in there for retirees, but still useful information.

FINAL out-processing physical

Another very important piece is your final out-processing physical. For those of you that plan to file for a VA disability claim this is really important because this verifies these things happened while you served on active duty. For those of you that aren’t at a base with a military treatment facility (MTF), you have to schedule one with active-duty MTF. I was stationed at March AFB, CA and we only had a clinic that was functional one or two weekends a month. So I scheduled my final out-processing physical at Los Angeles AFB, CA. There’s a representative at each base that takes care of these physicals.

The rep at Los Angeles AFB for me was:

Erika Casillas, LVN

Medical Standards Management Elements (MSME)

Los Angeles AFB, CA

61 MDS Comm:310-653-2475

Before she will set you up with an appointment she will make you send her a completed DD Form 2807-1 REPORT OF MEDICAL HISTORY.  She will prescreen the items and transcribe it to a DD Form 2807-2 ACCESSIONS MEDICAL PRESCREEN REPORT.  Then you will go in for your physical.  You MUST bring all of your Medical records both military and civilian (if you were seen by civilian providers while active duty).

medical reords

Medical Records

While we’re on the topic of medical records make sure BEFORE you separate you request a copy of your Military Treatment Records (MTR), this is done on a DD Form 2870, AUTHORIZATION FOR DISCLOSURE OF MEDICAL OR DENTAL INFORMATION with your medical group (MDG).  My MDG took about two weeks to make a copy but they didn’t make a physical copy they put it on a CD. This kind of makes it difficult because you still have to send in physical copies for any VA disability claim.  So it’s beneficial for you to actually print a hard copy for yourself.

Final Permanent Change of Station (PCS)

I haven’t used my final PCS move but upon retirement you are authorized a final PCS to anywhere in the US. But there is a difference between retirement and separation.  Make sure you check out my link below for your PCS entitlements.

RETIRING: You must complete your home of selection (HOS) travel one year from the retirement date on your orders. Your travel is not limited to your HOR or PLEAD. You may claim travel to any location within the U.S. you are planning to reside after retiring.

SEPARATING: You must complete your travel before the 181st day (6 months) after your Separation Date on your orders. And, your travel is limited to your Home of Record (HOR) or your Place Entering Active Duty (PLEAD).

Transition Assistance Program (TAP) briefing

A lot of people attend the TAP briefing which is a week-long class. I recommend some of you going to it if you really have no idea about transitioning into the civilian world. It covers resume writing, VA benefits, entitlements etc.  See your Airman & Family Readiness representative at your base for details on finding a TAP briefing.  I attended the one at Los Angeles AFB, CA.

In my opinion, the last day of the TAP briefing was the most important. You get to sit with VA representative and he/she will go through your entire medical record and give you an overview of what you should file for as far as a disability compensation claim. What you file should also match exactly what you put on your out-processing physical form. They should mirror each other.

Tricare selection:

Because I did not have an MTF, I was already under Tricare Prime Remote as an active duty member, and my family was under Tricare Prime. I was given the option between Tricare Standard and Tricare Prime (be advised Tricare Prime is not available in all locations).

What are the main features of Tricare Prime?

Enrollment required, Enhanced vision coverage and preventive services, Most care received from your primary care manager (PCM), Time and distance access standards, Fewer out-of-pocket costs, No claims to file (in most cases).

What are the main features of Tricare Standard?

Enrollment not required, Get care from any TRICARE-authorized provider, network or non-network, Referrals not required, but some care may require prior authorization, You may have to pay for services up front and file your own claims for reimbursement.

Please use the link at the bottom of this article to use the Tricare Plan Comparison tool.  It’s a huge difference.  I chose to stay with Tricare Prime.  So far its been good!


Life Insurance:

Converting Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (SGLI) to Veteran’s Group Life Insurance (VGLI)

You must apply to convert SGLI to VGLI within one year and 120 days from Retirement/separation date. Veterans who submit their application within 240 days of discharge do not need to submit evidence of good health, while those who apply more than 240 days after discharge are required to answer questions about their health.

Converting SGLI to Commercial Policy

Service members covered under the SGLI program have the option to convert their SGLI coverage to an individual policy of insurance within 120 days from the date of separation from the military.

See Life Insurance link below for information on covering to VGLI or Commercial Policies.




For those of you that are looking for a civilian job, take some time to get a good resume put together. Find someone that knows how to write a resume. DO NOT PAY hundreds of dollars because it’s quite a rip off.  I actually can help provide some resume writing services if you look at my blog there’s a page for resumes and I’m fairly inexpensive.

This was just some information I wanted to share.  Things I had to figure out on my own when I retired.  I hope this helps you too.

Here are some helpful links with some helpful reading material to help you transition into your retirement or separation (click on topic for link):


How to create a MyPers account

AGR Retirements (takes you through MyPers)

Active Duty Retirements (takes you through MyPers)

PCS entitlements

Tricare Plan Finder

Tricare Comparison tool

Life Insurance 



Resume writing services on my blog

Marcy retire 2
My retirement luncheon

P.S. Stayed tuned into my blog, I plan to post about filling VA disability compensation claims soon. I am in the middle of mine now, so I want to share personal experiences.

30 thoughts on “The things they don’t tell you about your Retirement/Separation from the Air Force

  1. Thank you for taking the time to do this to help others as they prepare to retire. I am contemplating retiring in the next few years and your information will be very helpful to me. Best of luck to you and your family.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great job but one thing I think is very important for planning purposes is that retired pay doesn’t start right away. Disability pay takes even longer. Now this may not come as a surprise for those who apply for retirement a year to 6 months out and go to TAPS early but in my case I was a medial retirement over 21 years that came earlier than expected and I wasn’t able to go to TAPS until the week before my PTDY days and I was only able to go to the 2 day one. So the money part was a big surprise. It amazes me how I outprocessed finance 3 months beforehand and I was told they had to audit my pay to make sure I didn’t owe the AF any money. Not sure what they did for 3 months. So just be prepared and ask questions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Leslie! Thanks for sharing! Sadly, my pay was delayed over 3 months. Your final pay check is always withheld for 2 weeks to see if you have any federal debts. But months is crazy! I’ve watched so many people retire before me and all got their first retirement check on time (the first of the month after you retire). That is what should happen if your paperwork is done in advance. However mine was done….so no idea why they delayed me. My leave sell out also took 3 months which is crazy! VA disability claims on average is taking 12-18 months depending on the case. That’s pretty standard. I’m sorry you didn’t get much time to do things. I didn’t benefit from the TAP briefing as I knew a lot of the information provided. I did like the last day that the VA rep came in. That was helpful. I just got my backpay so I am thankful. But yeah no one prepared me for that. Thankfully I had a savings.


    2. Hi Leslie, I work at HQ ARPC, I read of your post and I’m sorry your pay was delayed. Hopefully the below info will help. For ANG/Reserve/AD, all Medical Retirements (TDRL/PDRL) are done at HQAFPC not HQARPC. They will fax your PDRL/TDRL order to DFAS but your Airman & Family Readiness office will send your DD Fm 2656 (because they should be briefing you on your SBP benefit) and then faxing a copy to DFAS. Unfortunately, your pay/points/years of GOOD service needs to be audited by DFAS NOT your Finance Office so there is usually a delay in pay because TWO separate offices are sending your paperwork to DFAS.

      As for your DD214, that does get processed by HQARPC, my suggestion is to submit a copy of your AGR orders/any deployment orders/travel voucher on MyPers. Our DD214 Section usually gets notified by HQAFPC on all PDRL/TDRL’s prior but we only get your retirement orders so this can help spend up the process. We will generate your DD214 from the last DD214 in PRDA/ARMS not your entire career. We need your travel vouchers to verify where you were deployed overseas (there is a statement that is added in the notes). If you do not have your orders please ck AROWS or your Orderly Room for copies.
      Another suggestion is to get into ARMS/PRDA prior and print all your DD214’s so you can submit them w/ your VA Claim. Once you are retired your MPF/nor you will have access to your ARMS/PRDA.
      Lastly, its helpful to keep extra copies of your medical records/DD214’s in a safety deposit box because you’ll never know who may require you to present one of them later & this will keep you from digging in your garage years later.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. In the ANG, the SBP is briefed in Personnel and NOT in Airman and Family Readiness.

        Airman and Family Readiness is responsible to brief the DD Form 2648/2648-1 and if a member wishes to attend TAP, the AFRPM will assist with scheduling and requesting funding.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I retired from an ANG unit as a personnelist too. We did not have an SBP counselor. Our folks went to another base. Our family readiness only did deployers…not retirees. Like I stated every base has their own process. 🙂


  3. This was awesome and right on point. My ceremony was on 1 April, but my official date was 1 June. I was fortunate enough to have my pay start on time, but still waiting for my disability rating which makes it difficult to get into the GS system.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I officially retired 1 July. I submitted my claim 180 days prior to my retirement. (Dec 2015) I went to my scheduled VA appointments in April and the VA said I should know sometime in November😐.

      Did the VA say when you will be getting your rating?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Informative post! I plan to retire next June (after 25 years) and I am doing everything I can to be prepared; especially the VA stuff. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I officially retired 1 July and pretty much figured out most of these things on my own. I’m still waiting for my last check, however since I had an allotment that would get deposited into my checking account on the first of every month I still had that deposited into my account which was great! All of my bills were paid on time. For anyone retiring in the near future I would highly recommend setting something up so you’re not pressed for cash.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. If anyone here has recently retired in the state of California could you tell me if you filed for unemployment benefits?
    And if you were eligible?

    I spoke with someone who collected for 45 days and then his benefits were terminated.

    It takes a little time for the post 911, and retirement money to kick in as you all know or will know soon.


    Liked by 1 person

  7. Just know, filing a VA claim while on active duty is better than after you get out. The Pre-Discharge program is in place to help you but the VA won’t start processing your claim until after they receive your DD214. It is imperative you upload your DD214 into your claim on Ebenefits. Make sure before you turn in your CAC Card that you upgrade your Ebenefits account to Premium. I filed my VA Claim before I retired and waited 4.5 months after my official release from active duty date (1 August) when the VA rendered my rating.
    Please have a Veteran Service Organization help you file your VA Claim. They are there to help you through the process during the most stressful time. Utilize your VSO.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Cheryl. That’s exactly what I did. I filed before I retired. I did have issues with my Ebenefits, the option to upload was not there, but was able to fax it to the VA Intake Center and it was added to my file. I also was able to get my account fixed. It was some issue with my maiden name that was causing me issues. I’ve called my VSO and still no return calls. I’m going to try another office this week. 😉


      1. Yes, ebenefits has some issues but as long as your paperwork was in order when you filed..all will be good. Depending on your VSO (I used the DAV)…information will be limited until 6 months after your release and any updates/progress with your claim will be in ebenefits. The completion dates in ebenefts are an average of what its taking and can change so the dates are not based on your specific claim.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thankfully I helped my husband file his claims a few years back. So I was ready! 😝
        I’m anxiously awaiting. In the mean time I’m looking for a new job to help supplement my income.


  8. Good information, in the state of Wisconsin, nearly every person who has retired in the last 6-8 months were separated vs retired, causing pay and health insurance issues. I don’t believe it was a mistake on our MPF but some sort of glitch in DMDC. Not really sure, but really frustrating. I am processing through disability claims now and it is a pretty lengthy business, my VA rep couldn’t give me a date of rating, but will probably be 10 months for me. Thanks for putting this together so nicely, I am prior personnel, and still had problems too!! GoodLuck in all the retirements here, I retired 1 March 16.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Billie. I was Personnel as well and still had to learn things for myself. But I’ e shared as much as I could. I’m still trying to get a VSO to help check my claim, but I do have a friend who is a claims rep for the VA…so I’ve been picking his brain too. Good luck to you and Congrats!


    2. Good morning Billie,
      Are you Guard, Reserve or Active Duty? I’m asking because HQ ARPC does all separations for the ANG but we have to receive an application through vPC otherwise the member will stay on the ANG books. ANG/Reserve retirements are only processed w/ an application on vPC. Active Duty separations/Retirements are proceed through an application on vMPF HQAFPC w/ process those.
      Once they are completed by either agency then DEERS/DMDC will be updated.

      Liked by 1 person

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