Separating from the military is a time of major upheaval. There is so much that you need to know! If you are leaving the service or retiring, I hope that you are taking advantage of the pre-separation counseling and educational services that your branch offers. (Chances are, it's mandatory.) However, there is a small, simple thing that many people seem to miss in their briefings, and it is important to know:
Your last active duty paycheck may (will probably ) be held up pending the clearing of any debts to the military.
What this means is that on the day you are expecting your last active duty pay to hit your account, it probably won't be there. If you look on the LES, it will probably say HELD PAY. Once your account has been cleared, your last pay will come via Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) into the account that your pay is regularly deposited.
You will still be paid everything that is owed to you, but it will mostly likely be delayed. If you don't know, and you haven't planned for it, that can be a serious problem. But now you know, so you can plan and be prepared.
How long will your final pay be delayed? That's a tough question. In theory, the various services have guidelines, and most people should see their final pay within 20 days. In reality, there are a long list of reasons why final pay might be held beyond the 2o days; I've heard of extreme situations where it is months before the pay is released. It is essential that you keep your direct deposit bank account open, and provide an accurate physical mail address on your separation paperwork.
Congratulations to all of you who are moving on to the next chapter of your life!
More transition articles that may interest you:
Tax Statements For Separated Troops
Involuntary Separation Pay
From the Mailbag: Military Retirement Pay Taxes