Podcast Episode 0005 – Help, I Need My Records. Where Is My DD 214?

Let’s take a break from SBP this week and talk about another topic that comes up all the time.  People are always looking for documents from their service records, but are they necessarily looking for the right thing?

References:
Air Force Personnel Records (https://mypers.af.mil)
Army Personnel Records (https://iperms.hrc.army.mil/)
Coast Guard Personnel Records (http://cgbi.osc.uscg.mil/2.0/contentpanes/personal_files/summary_sheet.cfm)
Marine Corps Personnel Records (https://sso.tfs.usmc.mil/sso/DoDConsent.do)
Navy Personnel Records (https://www.bol.navy.mil/DefaultPub.aspx)

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) (https://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records)

Request National Guard Archived Records (List In Progress)

Forms:
DD Form 214 – Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty
DD Form 220 – Active Duty Report
NGB Form 22 – Report of Separation and Military Service
Standard Form (SF) 180 – Request Pertaining to Military Records

Retirement Points Statements By Service:
Air Force Reserve / Air National Guard: AF Form 526 – Point Summary Sheet
Army Reserve: DARP Form 549 or DA Form 5016 – Chronological Statement of Retirement Points
Army National Guard: NGB Form 23B – Army National Guard Retirement Points History
Navy Reserve: NRPC Form 1070-124 – Annual Retirement Points Record
USMC Reserve: NAVMC Form 798 – Reserve Retirement Credit Report
Coast Guard Reserve: CG Form 4175 – USCG Reserve Retirement Points Statement


Help, I Need My Records. Where is My DD 214?

Let’s take a break from SBP this week and talk about another topic that comes up all the time.  People are always looking for documents from their service records, but are they necessarily looking for the right thing?

So, you’re trying to get a VA home loan or prove your military service for some other type of benefit.  Sadly and confusingly, most if not all of the organizations that are offering a service or benefit based on your service will automatically say, “Show me your DD 214.”  For a great many service members, particularly reservists, this is a distressing request.

The Department of Defense (DD) Form 214 is the “Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty.”  It is, or should be, issued whenever a service member completes a tour of active duty of ninety days or more.  Whether or not you, as a reservist, qualifies for this document is widely variable and depends on whether you have completed the required amount of active duty service.

A great many reservists only have, if they’re lucky, a DD 214 when they finished their basic and advance training at the beginning of their reserve careers.  It is entirely possible for a reservist to complete twenty or more years of service and never receive another DD 214 because they did not have any long-term tours of active duty while they were serving.  Annual training and other short periods of active duty do not qualify for a DD 214.  This can leave reservists seeking to take advantage of service-based benefits in a bit of a quandary.

There is another form, call the DD 220 (Active Duty Report), which is generally issued for shorter periods of active duty (other than annual training).  Very often, reservists never receive these forms, either.

So, what do you do if you need to prove your service to an organization or government agency?  There are options, believe it or not.  If you are a currently serving reservist, you can find other documents in your electronic personnel record.  The most useful document you should find in that record is your retirement points statement.  This statement should show your entire military career and the number of retirement points you earned during each year of service.  If you are an enlisted member, you can also find DD Form 4, Enlistment / Reenlistment Document; if you are an officer, you can find your appointment as a commissioned or warrant officer.

Some organizations, particularly civilian agencies, may not understand what these documents are.  You may need to explain (politely) what the documents mean or give them contact information for your unit or a retirement services officer in order to assist them.

If you were a member of the Army or Air National Guard, you should have a copy of National Guard Bureau (NGB) Form 22, Report of Separation and Military Service.  While it is somewhat erroneous to say so, you can consider the NGB 22 as the National Guard equivalent of a DD 214.  The NGB 22 is verification of your National Guard service.  Sadly, if you discharged from any other reserve component, there is no single-source document which proves your military service.

Now, what can you do, particularly if you were National Guard and need a copy of your discharge documents?  For the National Guard of any state, there is a person as your state headquarters who can request records for you.  Some of them may need a signed Standard Form (SF) 180, Request Pertaining to Military Records, or a locally produced form from you before accessing those records.

If you separated from service after 2005, that state-level person will likely have access to the Interactive Personnel Electronic Records Management System (iPERMS) and be able to pull the documents you need very quickly.  If you separated prior to 2005, that person will likely need to request records from your state records archives warehouse.

If you served in a different reserve component, the first stop is to contact your branch of service or, if you are currently serving, access your electronic record.  I have placed links to each service’s electronic records website below.  If your branch of service no longer has those records, you can try the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).  NARA will require an SF 180 from you in order to fill your request.  You can mail or fax a paper form to them or submit a request online.  See my notes below for a link to the NARA site and a link to an SF 180.

Now, here is a hint.  If you served in multiple components, such as the Navy Reserve and the Army National Guard and you are requesting records from NARA, do NOT mention your National Guard service in your request.  If you do, NARA will immediately (or, at least, has every time as of the time I wrote this article) refer you to your state’s National Guard headquarters and will not fill your request.

It is possible, especially if you were in several branches of service, that no one source will have your complete record.  Naturally, the ultimate responsibility for maintaining a complete record falls on the shoulders of the service member.

I will compile and post a page on my website of as many of the state National Guard records managers as I can find.  Building this complete list may take some time so please check back if you do not see your state listed.

References:
Air Force Personnel Records (https://mypers.af.mil)
Army Personnel Records (https://iperms.hrc.army.mil/)
Coast Guard Personnel Records (http://cgbi.osc.uscg.mil/2.0/contentpanes/personal_files/summary_sheet.cfm)
Marine Corps Personnel Records (https://sso.tfs.usmc.mil/sso/DoDConsent.do)
Navy Personnel Records (https://www.bol.navy.mil/DefaultPub.aspx)

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) (https://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records)

Request National Guard Archived Records (http://rcretirement.com/national-guard-archived-records/) (List In Progress)

Forms:
DD Form 214 – Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty
DD Form 220 – Active Duty Report
NGB Form 22 – Report of Separation and Military Service
Standard Form (SF) 180 – Request Pertaining to Military Records

Retirement Points Statements By Service:
Air Force Reserve / Air National Guard: AF Form 526 – Point Summary Sheet
Army Reserve: DARP Form 549 or DA Form 5016 – Chronological Statement of Retirement Points
Army National Guard: NGB Form 23B – Army National Guard Retirement Points History
Navy Reserve: NRPC Form 1070-124 – Annual Retirement Points Record
USMC Reserve: NAVMC Form 798 – Reserve Retirement Credit Report
Coast Guard Reserve: CG Form 4175 – USCG Reserve Retirement Points Statement



Announcement: Webinar on the TSP and How It Will Work Under BRS

What you see below is an email I received earlier today.  I encourage anyone interested in the new retirement plan to register.

*****

Stuart Kaplan is a Training and Liaison Specialist at the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board and will be presenting an overview of the Thrift Savings Plan and how it works under the Blended Retirement System.  This webinar will further the educational effort to help Service members make an opt-in decision and allow participants to ask a subject matter expert questions.

 

Two attachments are included:

1) Promotional Flyer that includes the registration link.  Please feel free to share and/or register to attend, space is limited.  For those unable to attend, the webinar will be recorded and saved for future playback on Military OneSource.

 

Register for the webinar online:

February 28, 2017, at 2 to 3 p.m. EST:

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5911591717354412033

 

2) Social media messaging for use leading up to and during military saves week.

 

For more information on Military Saves Week (February 27 – March 3, 2017) and to access a digital tool kit, visit: https://militarysaves.org/organizations/military-saves-week/downloadable-materials/military-saves-week-2017-digital-toolkit

 

References:
TSP Under BRS Flier (http://www.rcretirement.com/docs/TSP_Under_BRS_Flier.doc)

Military Saves Week (http://www.rcretirement.com/docs/Mil_Saves_Week.doc)


Announcement: Webinar on the TSP and How It Will Work Under BRS

What you see below is an email I received earlier today.  I encourage anyone interested in the new retirement plan to register.

*****

Stuart Kaplan is a Training and Liaison Specialist at the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board and will be presenting an overview of the Thrift Savings Plan and how it works under the Blended Retirement System.  This webinar will further the educational effort to help Service members make an opt-in decision and allow participants to ask a subject matter expert questions.

 

Two attachments are included:

1) Promotional Flyer that includes the registration link.  Please feel free to share and/or register to attend, space is limited.  For those unable to attend, the webinar will be recorded and saved for future playback on Military OneSource.

 

Register for the webinar online:

February 28, 2017, at 2 to 3 p.m. EST:

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5911591717354412033

 

2) Social media messaging for use leading up to and during military saves week.

 

For more information on Military Saves Week (February 27 – March 3, 2017) and to access a digital tool kit, visit: https://militarysaves.org/organizations/military-saves-week/downloadable-materials/military-saves-week-2017-digital-toolkit

 

References:
TSP Under BRS Flier (http://www.rcretirement.com/docs/TSP_Under_BRS_Flier.doc)

Military Saves Week (http://www.rcretirement.com/docs/Mil_Saves_Week.doc)


YouTube Episode 0007 – Help, I Need My Records. Where is My DD 214?


How Do I Enroll in the Survivor Benefit Plan?

I originally wrote this article as part of a script for my YouTube and podcast episodes on this topic. The total length ended up being over 3000 words. For ease of reading, I am going to break up the script into a series of shorter articles. There will be links to other parts of the total article at the end of each section.

How do I enroll in the Survivor Benefit Plan?

If you are in any reserve component except the Coast Guard Reserve, you will enroll when you apply for retired pay using Department of Defense (DD) Form 2656 – Data for Payment of Retired Personnel.  If you are in the Coast Guard Reserve, you will use Coast Guard (CG) Form 4700 – Retired Pay Account Worksheet and Survivor Benefit Election.  I have placed links to those forms in the reference notes below.

 

References:
10 USC Subtitle A, Part II, Chapter 73, Subchapter II: Survivor Benefit Plan
Survivor Benefit Plan (Defense Finance and Accounting Service)
Advantages and Disadvantages of RCSBP / SBP
RCSBP Fact Sheet
$550 per month from SBP Compared to $100,000 Life Insurance: How Long Will It Last?
$2200 per month from SBP Compared to $100,000 Life Insurance: How Long Will It Last?
DD Form 2656 – Data for Payment of Retired Personnel
CG Form 4700 – Coast Guard, PHS, & NOAA Retired Pay Account Worksheet and Survivor Benefit Plan Election

Related YouTube Episodes:
The Basics of Reserve Retirement
The Notice of Basic Eligibility for Retired Pay (Twenty-Year Letter)
The Basics of the Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan

 

Related Articles on This Topic:
The Basics of the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP)
How Much Will The SBP Pay My Beneficiaries and How Much Will It Cost?
Should I Buy a Life Insurance Policy Instead of Choosing the Survivor Benefit Plan?
What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of the Survivor Benefit Plan?
What Are the Coverage Options and Who Can Be Beneficiaries of the SBP?
How Do I Enroll in the Survivor Benefit Plan?


What Are the Coverage Options and Who Can Be Beneficiaries of the SBP?

I originally wrote this article as part of a script for my YouTube and podcast episodes on this topic. The total length ended up being over 3000 words. For ease of reading, I am going to break up the script into a series of shorter articles. There will be links to other parts of the total article at the end of each section.

What are the coverage options for the Survivor Benefit Plan?

Unlike the Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan, there are no preset coverage options for SBP.  You simply select a beneficiary (or several if you have children) and the amount of your retired pay to be covered.

 

Who can be beneficiaries of the Survivor Benefit Plan?

I wrote a one-page description of the eligible beneficiaries for the Reserve Component SBP several years ago.  I will quote loosely from that sheet – with a few bits of additional information – in order to answer this question.  The information applies to the SBP, as well.  The fact sheet will also be available as a link in the reference notes.  I recommend downloading it and passing it around to people you know who may be applying for retired pay soon.

 

Spouse only – To be eligible for an annuity, your spouse must be married to you on the date your RCSBP election is made and married to you on the date of your death. If you marry or remarry, your new spouse must be married to you for one year or be the parent of a child by that marriage to qualify for SBP.

 

Child only – Coverage of children is limited to unmarried children under the age of 18, or under age 22 if a full-time student; or any age if incapable of self-support because of a mental or physical disability. In the case of a disability, you will need to setup a trust for the benefit of that disabled child and a trustee to manage it.  Do some research first, however, since a survivor annuity may reduce some state or federal disability payments. Consult your lawyer or Judge Advocate General (JAG) office for assistance with setting up a trust, updating your will, and asking questions about possible conflicts with income from other sources.

 

Spouse and Children – Same limitations as above; however, children will receive an SBP annuity only if your spouse becomes ineligible (through death or remarriage before age 55).

 

Former Spouse / Former Spouse and Child(ren) – You may elect to provide an annuity to a former spouse. You may also elect coverage for a former spouse and child if the child resulted from the marriage to your former spouse. You may elect these beneficiary options even though you are married or have a dependent child, but such an election prevents payment of an annuity to the current spouse or child. Under an election for former spouse and child, the child receives an SBP annuity only if the former spouse becomes ineligible.

 

Insurable Interest – This coverage may be elected only if you are not married or are unmarried with a sole dependent child. Any person more closely related to you than a cousin qualifies as a beneficiary with an insurable interest in you. Any other person may qualify if you provide proof that person benefits in some manner from your continued life (a business partner or dependent parent, for instance). Note: This is a VERY expensive election for both RCSBP and SBP premium costs.  Also, your insurable interest must be listed for two years before your death in order to qualify for an annuity. Do NOT choose this if you are married or have children.

 

References:
10 USC Subtitle A, Part II, Chapter 73, Subchapter II: Survivor Benefit Plan
Survivor Benefit Plan (Defense Finance and Accounting Service)
Advantages and Disadvantages of RCSBP / SBP
RCSBP Fact Sheet
$550 per month from SBP Compared to $100,000 Life Insurance: How Long Will It Last?
$2200 per month from SBP Compared to $100,000 Life Insurance: How Long Will It Last?
DD Form 2656 – Data for Payment of Retired Personnel
CG Form 4700 – Coast Guard, PHS, & NOAA Retired Pay Account Worksheet and Survivor Benefit Plan Election

Related YouTube Episodes:
The Basics of Reserve Retirement
The Notice of Basic Eligibility for Retired Pay (Twenty-Year Letter)
The Basics of the Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan

 

Related Articles on This Topic:
The Basics of the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP)
How Much Will The SBP Pay My Beneficiaries and How Much Will It Cost?
Should I Buy a Life Insurance Policy Instead of Choosing the Survivor Benefit Plan?
What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of the Survivor Benefit Plan?
What Are the Coverage Options and Who Can Be Beneficiaries of the SBP?
How Do I Enroll in the Survivor Benefit Plan?


What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of the Survivor Benefit Plan?

I originally wrote this article as part of a script for my YouTube and podcast episodes on this topic. The total length ended up being over 3000 words. For ease of reading, I am going to break up the script into a series of shorter articles. There will be links to other parts of the total article at the end of each section.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the Survivor Benefit Plan?

This will not be a comprehensive list, of course, but here are some of the highlights of RCSBP.  For ease of writing, I will simply quote the Defense Finance and Accounting Service website.  Some items will repeat what I have already said, but there is no harm in a little repetition.  You can find this information there if you would like to verify what I’m saying.  I will put the link in the reference notes below.

 

Advantage: You will leave a guaranteed income to your beneficiary
Eligible beneficiaries under the plan will receive 55 percent of the retiree’s elected amount of coverage.

Advantage: SBP benefits are inflation indexed, and coverage and cost are not affected by illness or age.
Unlike many private life insurance policies, SBP coverage will not be cancelled or revoked due to any illness you may have or your age.  Whether you retire at age 45 or 80, you or your spouse’s age or health will never be considered a liability and never impact the cost of the program.  In addition, the receipt of survivor benefits will not be affected by Social Security benefits. Finally, the SBP annuity is protected against inflation, increasing each December with a Cost of Living Adjustment based on the Consumer Price Index.

Advantage: You can pay for SBP benefits with a pre-tax payroll deduction
For nearly all retirees, Survivor Benefit Plan premiums are automatically deducted from your gross pay prior to the deduction of federal income tax. This decreases your total taxable income.

Disadvantage: Cost
SBP coverage is supplied at no cost while you are in active service.  During your retirement, however, a monthly deduction is taken from your pay to pay for your SBP coverage. This can be as much as, but no more than, 6.5 percent of your gross retired pay.

You might consider the relationship between the cost of the program and its benefits.  To earn an even return on your investment, your beneficiary typically must receive payment for seven months for every five years you pay SBP premiums.

Disadvantage: Once you enroll, changing your election is difficult. Although it may seem unnecessary to consider providing for your loved ones until later on in life, please be aware that the decisions you make at retirement regarding your SBP can be difficult to change.  For example, if, at retirement, you have an eligible spouse or children and decide not to have them covered under the plan, it will be very difficult to have your current or any future spouse or children covered under the plan in the future.

 

References:
10 USC Subtitle A, Part II, Chapter 73, Subchapter II: Survivor Benefit Plan
Survivor Benefit Plan (Defense Finance and Accounting Service)
Advantages and Disadvantages of RCSBP / SBP
RCSBP Fact Sheet
$550 per month from SBP Compared to $100,000 Life Insurance: How Long Will It Last?
$2200 per month from SBP Compared to $100,000 Life Insurance: How Long Will It Last?
DD Form 2656 – Data for Payment of Retired Personnel
CG Form 4700 – Coast Guard, PHS, & NOAA Retired Pay Account Worksheet and Survivor Benefit Plan Election

Related YouTube Episodes:
The Basics of Reserve Retirement
The Notice of Basic Eligibility for Retired Pay (Twenty-Year Letter)
The Basics of the Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan

 

Related Articles on This Topic:
The Basics of the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP)
How Much Will The SBP Pay My Beneficiaries and How Much Will It Cost?
Should I Buy a Life Insurance Policy Instead of Choosing the Survivor Benefit Plan?
What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of the Survivor Benefit Plan?
What Are the Coverage Options and Who Can Be Beneficiaries of the SBP?
How Do I Enroll in the Survivor Benefit Plan?


Should I Buy a Life Insurance Policy Instead of Choosing the Survivor Benefit Plan?

I originally wrote this article as part of a script for my YouTube and podcast episodes on this topic. The total length ended up being over 3000 words. For ease of reading, I am going to break up the script into a series of shorter articles. There will be links to other parts of the total article at the end of each section.

That still sounds like a lot of money.  Wouldn’t it be a better deal if I bought a life insurance policy instead?  Serviceman’s Group Life Insurance only costs me $29 dollars a month.

The premium you pay for SGLI is very low, but that won’t be available to you once you leave the service.  You do have the option to convert your policy to Veterans Group Life Insurance, but that is incredibly expensive and the cost goes up every five years.  Even compared to civilian life insurance policies, RCSBP is a pretty good deal.  Of course, everyone’s situation is different so you will need to make your own decision.

 

Let me describe a comparison between the survivor annuity and life insurance using the same retiree I mentioned earlier.  If he were to die this year, he would be leaving an annuity of $550 per month to his wife.  Naturally, she likely would need more than that much to pay her bills each month, but let’s work with the $550 number for now.  The survivor annuity is indexed for inflation – meaning it goes up every year – and the survivor cannot outlive it.  You can live long enough to exhaust a life insurance policy.  If the retiree had a $100,000 life insurance policy and this widow were to take $550 from it every month, she would run out of money in about ten years.

 

If we assume that she need more money, let’s say $2,200 per month which is four times the survivor annuity, she would run out of money in a little over three years.  In the first example of $550 per month, the retiree would need to have purchased a life insurance policy of over $275,000 in order to match the lifetime value of the survivor annuity.  In the case of the second example, $2,200 per month, the retiree would have needed over $1.1 million in life insurance.  Imagine what the cost of either of those policies would be for a man in his sixties.  Again, no one has the same financial situation.  Analyze your own condition and make an informed decision.

References:
10 USC Subtitle A, Part II, Chapter 73, Subchapter II: Survivor Benefit Plan
Survivor Benefit Plan (Defense Finance and Accounting Service)
Advantages and Disadvantages of RCSBP / SBP
RCSBP Fact Sheet
$550 per month from SBP Compared to $100,000 Life Insurance: How Long Will It Last?
$2200 per month from SBP Compared to $100,000 Life Insurance: How Long Will It Last?
DD Form 2656 – Data for Payment of Retired Personnel
CG Form 4700 – Coast Guard, PHS, & NOAA Retired Pay Account Worksheet and Survivor Benefit Plan Election

Related YouTube Episodes:
The Basics of Reserve Retirement
The Notice of Basic Eligibility for Retired Pay (Twenty-Year Letter)
The Basics of the Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan

 

Related Articles on This Topic:
The Basics of the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP)
How Much Will The SBP Pay My Beneficiaries and How Much Will It Cost?
Should I Buy a Life Insurance Policy Instead of Choosing the Survivor Benefit Plan?
What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of the Survivor Benefit Plan?
What Are the Coverage Options and Who Can Be Beneficiaries of the SBP?
How Do I Enroll in the Survivor Benefit Plan?