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?


The Basics of the Survivor Benefit Plan (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.

Basic Description
Today I am going to talk about the Survivor Benefit Plan. Like its reserve component version, this is one of the most important decisions a service member must make. Also, just like the talk about the Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan, this episode will probably be longer than usual. This is a vital decision for every retiree so I want to be sure everything is understandable. The terms I may use are typically those used by the Army, but the information itself is the same for all branches of service. Enough prologue, I’d say; let’s dive right into today’s subject.

What is the Survivor Benefit Plan?
As I said in my articles about the reserve component version of the Survivor Benefit Plan, retired pay stops with the death of the retiree. There is no method by which a retiree may pass on his retired pay to another person in a will or other legal instrument. The Survivor Benefit Plan – or SBP – is the only way a person receiving retired pay can pass on a survivor annuity to a family member. Notice that I said, “annuity,” rather than retired pay or pension. This is not your retirement. It is something you are purchasing separately to leave some form of survivor income for your family.

So, when do I have to make this critical decision?
Very simple. You make this election when you apply for retired pay.

What happens I don’t make an election?
If the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) has no evidence that you are single and have no dependents, they will automatically set your SBP election to spouse and compute a generic premium for you to pay. If you do in fact have no eligible beneficiaries and this default election occurs, you will need to contact a retirement services officer or DFAS directly to get the election changed.

 

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?


Podcast Episode 0004 – The Basics of the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP)

Today I am going to talk about the Survivor Benefit Plan.  Like its reserve component version, this is one of the most important decisions a service member must make.


YouTube Episode 0006 – The Basics of the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP)

Today I am going to talk about the Survivor Benefit Plan.  Like its reserve component version, this is one of the most important decisions a service member must make.

 

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