Paycheck Chronicles

From The Mailbag: VA Disability and Retirement


I regularly receiving letters from family members who are worried about their current or former servicemember.  The military is confusing enough if you are in it, and it is more confusing for people who don't have experience.

Today's letter is fairly typical:

Perhaps you can help me. My son spent 6 years in the military with 2 overseas missions. He is now retired and keeps telling me he hasn't been paid. He has been back home now since Nov. 2012. Does it take THAT long to get paperwork collected and checks to be distributed for his pay? He is collecting unemployment but he tells me that when he speaks to anyone that they just say you need to write to your congress. What kind of answer is that? I can't believe it and I'm wondering if the Military has his WRONG address. He was down in Ft. Campbell, KY and he moved up to Minnesota to live. Who can help him find some answers? The Vet's Hospital in Mpls? I just don't think he is seeking the right answers. Please help. R
Here's my reply:
Dear R, I am not an expert, but there are a lot of things that don't seem quite right here.  First of all, was your son medically retired?  Six years service does not equal a regular military retirement.  If he was medically retired, he should have begun receiving his retired pay within a month or two of his retirement date. If he was not medically retired, then you might be talking about VA disability benefits.  This would be a VA issue and yes, it can take months for a claim to be processed through the VA system.  If you do an internet search on "va backlog," you will find tons of stories about delays in the VA claims process. I would recommend you find a veterans service officer (VSO) to help your son navigate his benefits.  VSOs can be found through veterans groups such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars or the American Legion.  Some counties employee Veterans Service Officers as well.  The VA hospital may be able to point your son in the right direction. Good luck to you, Kate
While I didn't answer her questions, I hope that I gave the reader enough information to move forward.  For civilians, the difference between military retirement and VA disability benefits can be quite confusing.  Heck, it can be confusing for the people who are receiving them! I love being able to publish letters here so that others with the same question can find answers.  I don't get to answer or publish every email I receive, but they help me immensely in learning about the issues that are most important to you. Show Full Article

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