Pay and Benefits

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Learn about military pay and other forms of compensation you could be entitled to, such as Combat Related Special Compensation (CRSC) and Concurrent Retired Disability Payment (CRDP).


Detailed information on pay programs

New Retirement Program

Get information on your future retirement benefits. Available for PREMIUM and LIFE members.


Comprehensive information on Concurrent Retirement Disability Payments (CRDP), including our answers to your frequently asked questions.


Comprehensive information on Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) to include eligibility requirements, payment processes, and answers to frequently asked questions from the MOAA benefits experts.


Comprehensive information on retirement pay for Guard/Reserve members.


Frequently asked questions regarding military pay issues.


What happens to retired pay after the passing of a retiree?

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Entitlement to military retired pay stops at midnight on the date of your death. Your beneficiary is entitled to any military retired pay due to you at the time of your death. If you pass during the first few days of the month, this payment will be relatively small. Nevertheless, your surviving spouse or designated beneficiary has a right to any entitlements but it will not be automatically deposited into your account. If you are not sure if you signed a designation of beneficiary or if the one on file is up-to-date, you need to contact the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) at 1-800-321-1080 or your service finance center at 877-366-2772.


What are the payment dates for retired pay and annuities?

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These dates change from year to year based on which day of the week the first of the month falls. DFAS maintains an up to date listing here:


How is the annual adjustment for retired pay determined?

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Retired pay increases are made each year to maintain the same retired pay purchasing power each member had at retirement. This is accomplished through annual Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs), which are based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) Consumer Price Index (CPI) -- the measure of inflation. The CPI is also used to adjust annuities for other federal retirees, survivors, and social security recipients. More specifically, the pay is adjusted by CPI-W, which is the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers.


Who do I contact about active duty or retired pay?

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If you are in the Army, Navy, Air Force or Marine Corps:

Defense Finance and Accounting Service
P.O. Box 99191 
Cleveland, OH 44199-2058 
Telephone number (toll free): 
1-888-DFAS411 (888-332-7411)
1-800-469-6559 (fax) 

If you are in the Coast Guard or NOAA:

Commanding Officer 
United States Coast Guard Personnel Support Center 
444 S.E. Quincy St. Topeka, KS 66683-3591 
Telephone number (toll free): 

If you are in the Public Health Service:

U.S. Public Health Service Division of Commissioned Personnel, ODB
8455 Colesville Road 
Silver Spring, MD 20857 
Telephone number (toll free): 1-800-638-8744 


Why is my separation pay being recouped?

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If you accepted separation pay as an incentive or as compensation to leave the service, and then continued to serve in the Guard or Reserve after you separated and later became eligible for retirement, you must pay back your original separation pay. These payments are considered a form of retired pay. Your amount of pay was based on your years of service. When you eventually earned longevity retired pay from additional Guard or Reserve service, your retired pay is calculated using the same service years for which you already were paid. You can't be paid twice for the same service time, so your separation pay is recouped (or withheld) out of retired pay or from VA disability compensation.


How can I contact DFAS?

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Call 1-800-321-1080


Do former spouses always receive a portion of a military retiree's retired pay?

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There is nothing that specifically guarantees a former spouse a portion of a retiree's retired pay. A State court order must directly award a portion of the retired pay to the former spouse. The Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act (USFSPA) authorizes State courts to divide retired pay as a marital asset and to provides a way for former spouses to receive property awards through direct payments from the retiree's retired pay.


Do I get CRSC in addition to service retired pay and VA compensation?

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There is a strong belief among people that CRSC is a new form of pay, a third paycheck if you will, above and beyond any Service retired pay and VA comp amounts. CRSC is a third form of pay but it is not an amount in addition to Service retired pay and VA disability compensation. While technically it comes to you as a third pay check, it is pay that restores your Service retired pay for all or part of the VA Waiver amount being deducted from Service pay. CRDP on the other hand is not a third form of pay. CRDP is the return of Service retired pay by decreasing the VA Waiver amount in your Service retired pay.


Is CRSC or CRDP better?

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CRSC is limited to combat injuries and as such that can be a significant limiting factor on the amount paid. CRDP is not limited to combat related disabilities so the amount is based on your total VA compensation and service retired pay. The combat related nature of CRSC is a basis behind its tax-free status while CRDP is taxable.

There may be times the amount of pay under CRDP is large enough that even after taxes it could be greater than a limited CRSC tax-free check. This is why your pay agency allows you a chance to select which version of pay you want during the 'open season' each December. Now that CRDP is phased in, your CRDP amount may provide you the greatest take-home pay.


When is open season for CRSC and CRDP?

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Every December, retirees eligible for both Concurrent Retirement and Disability Pay (CRDP) and Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC), are mailed a CRDP/CRSC Open Season Election Form. The election form includes a comparison of the your CRDP and CRSC entitlement amounts as well as information about the tax implications.

The open season election period is every January. All elections must be postmarked no later than Jan. 31. If no change is desired - no action is necessary. Election changes postmarked after this date will not be processed and your unchanged election will remain in effect until changed in a subsequent annual open season.

Typical processing time is 30 days. So look for your change to occur on the first business day of March if it does not occur in February. For March payment changes, you'll receive a retroactive adjustment for the payment that would have been paid on the first business day in February.

ID cards, copies of records, corrections of military records, military burials, and the like. If it's a benefit other than pay, we'll cover it here.


Military burials, ID cards, and information Post 9/11 GI Bill.


Information to assist in understanding the burial benefits military officers or their surviving spouses may be eligible for.


Find information on when and how to renew Military Identification (I.D.) cards for military retirees and eligible family members.


Get information on your future retirement benefits. Available for PREMIUM and LIFE members.


Find information on whether or not you should enroll in VGLI.


Additional information about relevant benefits for servicemembers and their families.

  1. When is it appropriate to wear my military uniform? Do the services provide guidelines for wearing my uniform after I retire?

    Often military retirees inquire as to when is it appropriate to wear their military uniform. Wearing of the uniform by retirees is authorized by Title 10, U.S. Code Section 772 and governed by a DoD directive and military service regulations. Generally, military retirees may wear their military uniform at official functions when the dignity of the occasion and good taste dictates. Wearing the uniform is appropriate for memorial services, weddings, funerals, balls, patriotic or military parades, ceremonies in which any active or reserve United States military unit is participating and functions of military associations. Retirees may wear either the uniform prescribed at the time of their retirement or of those on active duty, but the two may not be intermixed. Restrictions on retirees wearing the uniform vary with each service. Please refer to the service regulation for guidance.

  2. Are there any benefits or discounts for hearing aids for military retirees?

    TRICARE does not cover hearing aids and not all retirees are eligible for hearing aids through the VA. DoD sponsors a program for military retirees to receive at-cost hearing aids at select locations. The Retiree At Cost Hearing Aid Program (RACHAP) offers hearing aids that have leading-edge technology-the same offered to active duty members. The RACHAP provides these hearing aids at greatly reduced prices. You do have to pay for the hearing aids. However, hearing aids that typically cost thousands of dollars may be available for hundreds of dollars, or at the very least, a significant savings at a fraction of the retail cost. Retirees are not typically charged for the hearing exam, the fitting and programming of the hearing aids, or follow-up checks. The RACHAP is a program offered at military audiology clinics located in selected locations. There are only 11 participating locations in the lower 48 states. Fifteen outside the lower 48 states and overseas. For more information and a list of participating locations, please click here.


Frequently asked questions pertaining to military benefits.


Do I have to give my former spouse half of my retirement pay?

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The passing of the Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act (USFSPA) in 1983 recognized the right for the courts to divide a portion of a servicemember's retired pay to a former spouse. The USFSPA does not entitle a former spouse to any portion of the servicemember's retired pay, rather it allows the courts to treat disposable retired pay as property and therefore divide it as it sees fit. The specifics of the division are subject to the courts and the agreed upon divorce decree.

By law, a servicemember's service disability compensation is not considered part of the divorce property eligible for award to a former spouse. Specifically, service disability pay under the medical retirement law (10 USC Chapter 61) is not considered disposable retired pay for division as marriage property. However, VA disability compensation is not protected from the requirements of family or child support by a state divorce court as is commonly believed.


What is the Burial at Sea Program?

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This program, administered by the U.S. Navy Mortuary Affairs, provides an option for burial at sea for eligible individuals. Because the ceremony takes place on a deployed U.S. Navy vessel, family members will not be permitted to attend. The family will be informed of the date, time, and the longitude and latitude coordinates of the committal ceremony by the commanding officer of the designated ship. More information about the program and locations for ports of embarkation can be found here.

The U.S. Coast Guard also performs burial at sea ceremonies for eligible individuals as their operational schedule allows. Generally, the Coast Guard only offers this service for cremated remains and will only allow for burial of whole, casketed remains with prior approval by a U.S. Coast Guard vice admiral or a higher authority.


Who is eligible for the Burial at Sea Program?

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Eligibility is open to the following individuals:

Active duty members of the uniformed services, retirees and veterans whose service ended for reasons other than dishonorable, U.S. civilian marine personnel of the Military Sealift Command, and dependent family members of active, former or retired uniformed servicemembers.


Is there somewhere I can look to find a military family member who has been buried overseas?

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The American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) administers and maintains cemeteries and monuments that honor fallen U.S. war servicemembers who are buried overseas. You can access cemetery maps, memorial locations, and utilize their searchable database for those buried on foreign soil by visiting


Where can I get a copy of my DD Form 214, Discharge Papers or Separation Documents?

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You, or a next-of-kin of deceased veterans,  can obtain copies of these documents from the U.S. National Archives & Records Administration through the following options:  

  • The eVetRecs request system; a link and further instructions can be found here

Faxed requests: 314-801-9195   

Mailed requests should be sent to:
National Personnel Records Center
1 Archives Drive
St. Louis, MO 63138  

Further information and instructions on making requests using SF-180 or by written letter can be seen here.


What is the Presidential Memorial Certificate (PMC) Program?

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The PMC Program was started by President John F. Kennedy in 1962 to honor the memory of honorably discharged, deceased veterans. The program has continued with all subsequent presidents. The certificate, which bears the president's signature, expresses the country's grateful recognition of the veteran's service in the armed forces. The PMC program is administered by the VA. Eligible recipients, or someone acting on their behalf, may apply for a PMC in person at any VA regional office, by U.S. mail or by toll-free fax. Requests cannot be made via email.  

To request a PMC, VA Form 40-0247 should be completed and submitted with a copy of the veteran's discharge document and death certificate. Please submit copies only; the documents will not be returned.   

Faxed requests can be made toll-free to: 1-800-455-7143 

Instructions for faxed requests can be found here.  

Mailed requests should be sent to:
Presidential Memorial Certificates (41B3)
National Cemetery Administration
5109 Russell Road
Quantico, VA 22134-3903  

To check on the status of a PMC you can call 1-202-565-4964 or send an  email to Please allow for at least sixteen weeks before checking. 

In our continuing commitment to those who serve, MOAA offers information and advice to all veterans, service members and survivors nationwide. By educating veterans, survivors and service members about their disability and healthcare benefits, we are doing our part to inform and assist with the disability and survivor claim process.

MOAA has a strong tradition of serving the military community by being a leading voice on compensation and benefit matters, and providing expert advice and guidance to our members on many aspects of their personal and professional lives.


Information on filing a claim with the VA and other benefit programs.


Find more information on how to submit a VA claim, what to expect from the VA claims process, and where to find answers to frequently asked questions about VA claims.


Ever wonder what other VA benefits are out there? Here is a list.


MOAA's VSO team hosts webinars where you can get information on the VSO process from the comfort of your home.


A personal story from a MOAA Life member.


Additional tools and tips for filing a VA claim.

  1. Do you have an easy checklist that lists the steps to filing a claim?

    Yes, please download this simple checklist and keep it with your files.

  2. Can my private physician perform and compensation and pension exam?

    Yes, the VA developed Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQs) to give veterans the option of having their private physician complete the forms filled out during a compensation and pension medical exam. This saves time during the claim process since the veteran no longer has to wait for a VA exam. The MOAA DBQ Worksheet will help you decide which DBQ you will need for your disability and the location of the regulations the VA uses to determine the disability rating.

  3. How do I register for an eBenefits account?

    Please follow these simple steps outlined here.


Frequently asked questions pertaining to the VA claims process and other VA benefits.


How do I apply for VA Healthcare?

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Apply online, complete VA Form 10-10EZ and apply in person or mail the application to the following address:  

Health Eligibility Center 
Enrollment Eligibility Division 
2957 Clairmont Road Suite 200 
Atlanta, GA 30329-1647    

Or, call the VA toll free at 877-222-VETS (8387), Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time.  


If I apply for VA healthcare can I get an ID card?

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Yes. The purpose of the card is for identification and check-in at VA appointments. The ID card cannot be used as a credit card, an insurance card, or as a form of identification outside of a VA Medical Center. If you apply for VA healthcare and are assigned to Priority Group 8 or are not enrolled for any other reason, the VA will not issue an ID card.

On July 20, 2015, the President enacted the Veterans ID Card Act of 2015 that creates a new ID card for a veteran who is neither entitled to military retired pay nor enrolled in the VA healthcare system. While the card will not serve as proof of entitlement to any VA benefits itself, it will alleviate the need for veterans to carry their DD-214s. VA has not set a date when the cards will be available.


Why does it take so long to process a VA claim?

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The length of time it takes to process a claim depends on the complexity of the disabilities claimed, the number of disabilities claimed, the timing of evidence submission, and the current workload of the VA Regional Office where you submit the claim. See our VA claims checklist for suggestions to make your claims process faster.


How do I contact the VA?

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You can call the VA 1-800-827-1000 or send an electronic inquiry using the Inquiry Routing & Information System (IRIS) at


Does the VA provide hearing aids or eyeglasses?

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The VA will provide eyeglasses and hearing aids to veterans who meet the following criteria:

Veterans with any compensable service-connected disability.

Former Prisoners of War.

Purple Heart recipients.

Veterans getting benefits benefits under Title 38 United States Code.
Veterans who are qualified for an increased pension based on being permanently housebound and in need of regular aid and attendance.

Veterans with vision or hearing impairment resulting from diseases or the existence of another medical condition for which the veteran is receiving care or services from VHA, or which resulted from treatment of that medical condition, e.g., stroke, polytrauma, traumatic brain injury, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, vascular disease, geriatric chronic illnesses, toxicity from drugs, ocular photosensitivity from drugs, cataract surgery, and/or other surgeries performed on the eye, ear, or brain resulting in vision or hearing impairment.

Veterans with significant functional or cognitive impairment evidenced by deficiencies in the ability to perform activities of daily living.

Those who have vision and/or hearing impairment severe enough that it interferes with their ability to participate actively in their own medical treatment and to reduce the impact of dual sensory impairment (combined hearing and vision loss).

NOTE: The term "severe" refers to a vision and/or hearing loss that interferes with or restricts access to, involvement in, or active participation in health care services (e.g., communication or reading medication labels). The term is not to be interpreted to mean that a severe hearing or vision loss must exist to be eligible for hearing aids or eyeglasses.

Those veterans who have service-connected vision disabilities rated zero percent or service-connected hearing disabilities rated zero percent if there is organic conductive, mixed, or sensory hearing impairment, and loss of pure tone hearing sensitivity in the low, mid, or high-frequency range or a combination of frequency ranges which contribute to a loss of communication ability; however, hearing aids are to be provided only as needed for the service-connected hearing disability.


Learn in-depth information about the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) and other survivor benefits.


Detailed information about benefits for surviving spouses and dependents of servicemembers.


Comprehensive information on the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP).


Comprehensive information on DIC for survivors.


A personal story from a MOAA Life member.


Additional information about relevant benefit programs for survivors and dependents.

  1. I am the surviving spouse of a military retiree. If I remarry, what happens to my benefits?

    The answer depends slightly on your age. For all military widows/widowers, if you remarry a civilian, you will permanently loseyour TRICARE benefit.

    If you are under the age of 55, you will lose TRICARE, SBP, and DIC, and all commissary and exchange access. If the new marriage ends in death or divorce, you may resume SBP and DIC.

    If you are over 55 and under 57, you will lose TRICARE, DIC, and all commissary and exchange access. You can keep SBP. If the new marriage ends, you can resume DIC.

    If you are over 57, you lose TRICARE and all commissary and exchange access. However, you can keep SBP and DIC without an offset.

  2. Are Guard/Reserve retirees eligible for SBP?

    Yes, Guard and Reserve members make an election for SBP upon receiving their letter of Notice of Eligibility (NOE) for retirement and retired pay. Guard and Reserve retirees have three options. Option A is postponing the decision until they turn 60. Option B is receiving a death annuity starting when the military member would have turned 60 or when the member dies if already 60. Option C is receiving a death annuity that starts when the military member dies regardless of age. If the servicemember doesn't make a choice, they are automatically enrolled in option C. Any option other than option C requires consent from the spouse.

  3. If my spouse's SBP is offset by DIC, are the SBP premiums refunded?

    If the DIC payment offsets the entire SBP annuity, no annuity is paid and the SBP premiums for spouse coverage paid by the member are fully refunded to the surviving spouse. If the DIC payment is less than the SBP annuity, the spouse is paid an SBP annuity equal to the difference between the full annuity and the DIC. A refund of SBP premiums is made based on the difference between the costs actually incurred and the costs that would have been incurred in order to provide the annuity payable after the DIC reduction. For purposes of the cost refund, the open season premium addition (the additional penalty added during the 1992 and 1993 open enrollment period), the lump sum buy-in (from both the 1999 and 2000, and 2005 and 2006 open enrollment periods), any child costs, and any interest charges due to delinquent premiums are not refunded. The spouse must apply for the SBP annuity in order to receive the SBP premium refund. The SBP cost refund is taxed as income to the spouse since the premiums were not taxed when they were deducted from the member's retired pay.


Frequently asked questions pertaining to survivor benefits.


What is SBP’s greatest advantage?

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SBP's greatest advantage is that it is COLA-adjusted. This feature helps keep SBP's purchasing power in step with tomorrow's dollar value. It is a permanently increasing product; all features of SBP are increased by the same percentage as the retiree COLA. The ratio of cost to benefit is constant.


Is it true that SBP can now be paid into a special needs trust?

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The FY2015 NDAA includes a provision authorizing the payment of Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) annuities into a special needs trust for permanently disabled dependent children.

A special needs trust exempts income from means-testing for assistance provided by state governments and social services.

DFAS must now establish and implement the administrative rules necessary to accommodate retirees who wish to designate a special needs trust as the recipient of their SBP annuity.


How do I report a death and start my SBP payments?

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Notify your pay agent about the death, usually the Department of Finance and Accounting Services (DFAS). A Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) application form will be mailed to the surviving spouse.

Be sure to have the military member's social security number, the survivor's social number, certified copy of the death certificate, the date of death, your address and telephone number, and banking information for direct deposit (bank name, address, account and routing numbers).


Is there still a social security offset for SBP?

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No, this offset was completely eliminated as of April 1st, 2008.


If my spouse, the beneficiary, passes away, will deductions from my retired pay stop?

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Deductions from your retirement pay will be discontinued if your spouse dies before you do. To stop the SBP deduction, you need only send a copy of the death certificate or divorce or annulment decree to your pay agent together with a cover letter providing your complete name, Social Security number, and an explanation of your request.


If I'm receiving an SBP annuity and I remarry, is the SBP annuity lost forever?

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No. If remarriage occurs before age 55, the annuity is suspended and can be reinstated if the remarriage ends in death or divorce of the second spouse. If remarriage occurs at age 55 or later, the annuity continues uninterrupted for the duration of the spouse's life.