Air Force Retirement/Separation Information (Active duty & AGR)
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.
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).
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.
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!
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):
AGR Retirements (takes you through MyPers)
Active Duty Retirements (takes you through MyPers)
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.