Military Divorce Minefields – Part 2 – Division of Retired Pay

Let’s continue where I left off last week.

Ooh, here is the nasty one.  This is the topic that causes the most spiteful disagreement.  In no other area have I witnessed the level of argument and emotion as I have with the division of retired pay.

 

Adding to the confusion on both sides, though, is the fact that every state treats division of pay differently. Puerto Rico, for example, does not divide military retirement at all.  Indiana requires the service member to be eligible for retired pay (twenty qualifying years) at the time of divorce before they will consider division.  North Carolina requires expert testimony on the value of the pension.  Maine does not allow for the computation of Cost of Living Allowances (COLAs) when awarding part of retired pay to a former spouse.  Some states are “shall divide” states while others are “may divide” states.  Anything you may have heard about a one-size-fits-all formula for dividing retired pay is false.

 

The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act allows for this sort of division during a divorce. Except for one recent modification, it gives very few rules on how the division is to occur.  For example, it sometimes allows for up to fifty percent of retired pay (after certain deductions) to be directly deposited into the former spouse’s bank account by the member’s pay center (the Defense Finance and Accounting Service for the Army, Navy, and Air Force, for example) but says nothing about courts requiring a higher amount from the service member (meaning the member would still be liable for paying any remainder out-of-pocket).

 

Let me describe how the division of pay happens.  First, we need to figure out what is called Disposable Retired Pay (DRP).  This is gross retirement pay minus any VA disability offsets, survivor benefit premiums, taxes, and any other money owed to the government.  DRP is what the pay center will divide (regardless of what courts may say) up to fifty percent and deposit in the former spouse’s account.

 

But wait!  It’s not that simple.  DFAS (and the other pay centers) will not always make things so easy for the service member.  There is a little understood rule (often called the “10/10 rule”) which requires ten years of the marriage to overlap a minimum of ten years of the member’s military service.  Contrary to what is often cited by barracks lawyers, there is no automatic eligibility for a portion of the member’s retirement after ten years of marriage.  It is still up to the state courts to decide if division of pay will happen at all.  If it does occur and the former spouse meets the 10/10 rule then the pay center will direct deposit up to fifty percent of the member’s disposable retired pay into the former spouse’s account.  The former spouse will need to file DD Form 2293 and a court-certified copy of the court order with the pay center for this to happen.  If the 10/10 rule is not met and a division occurs, the member is responsible for paying out-of-pocket.

 

I digressed a bit with that last paragraph.  Let’s get back to how the amount of pay the former spouse will receive is computed.  We’ve gone over how to reach the disposable retired pay amount.  The amount paid can either be a flat dollar amount of a percentage of disposable retired pay.  If the flat amount is elected, it will not change over time.  This means COLAs have no effect.  They will, however, be included if the percentage method is used.  So, you’ve computed disposable retired pay. Now what?

 

What happens next is going to vary based on a number of factors.  If the member is still serving, the MPDO has to state the member’s rights under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act have been honored.  There is also the question of the “marital fraction” part of the computation.

 

Now we’re getting into a lot of confusing territory.  What the heck is a marital fraction?  This isn’t math class.  No, it’s more like abstract algebra.  Don’t be scared.  Dive into the pool and start kicking.  Eventually your head will break water and some semblance of sense will come to you.

 

I said earlier that each state does division of retired pay differently.  Keep that in mind with everything I am about to describe.  I am only giving a basic idea of things.  Your experience may vary.

 

The basic description of the marital fraction is this: what portion of retired pay was earned during the time the service member was married to the former spouse.  Here is the basic formula.

 

Marital Asset (Former Spouse’s portion) = [DRP x (marital service time ÷ total service time) ] X Court Ordered Percentage

 

Marital service time is the overlap of the marriage with the member’s military service.  For reservists, it would be the number of retirement points earned during the marital overlap.  Here is the same formula modified for reservists.

 

Marital Asset (Former Spouse’s portion) = [DRP x (marital service retirement points ÷ total retirement points)] X Court Ordered Percentage

 

Let me add some numbers to this equation so it will make a little more sense.  Let’s assume the disposable retired pay is $2,000, the member has 5,000 retirement points and earned 3,500 of those points while married to the former spouse.  The court awarded fifty percent of the marital fraction to the former spouse. We will call the marital fraction (or marital asset) M in this equation.

 

M = [$2,000 x (3,500 ÷ 5,000)] x 50%

 

Now think back to your seventh-grade algebra class and recall the order of operations.  First, we solve what is in parentheses so we’re dividing 3,500 by five thousand.  We get this.

 

M = [$2,000 x (0.7)] x 50%

 

Now we solve what is in the brackets.  We multiply $2,000 by 0.7.  We end up with this.

 

M = [$1,400] x 50%

 

We’re almost there.  Now we multiply $1,400 by fifty percent.  The former spouse’s portion of retired pay is $700 per month or 35% of the service member’s disposable retired pay.

 

M = $700

 

$700 ÷ $2,000 = 35%

 

Did that make sense?  I hope so.  I’m about to do something evil.  States used to have a great deal of flexibility in determining what the marital fraction was.  They could even decide whether to based the division of pay on the rank and points at the time of divorce or on the rank and points at the time the member began to receive retired pay.  A change in the law, effective 23 December 2016, changed all of this.  When retired pay is divided by a divorce decree, QDRO (erroneously), or MPDO and the member is still serving, the variables composing the marital fraction are now set for all states and territories.  The change does not affect those who divorce after the member is no longer serving (meaning the member is either in the Retired Reserve or is receiving retired pay).

 

For those people to whom the law change does apply, the marital asset is now based on the retirement points earned during the marriage and the pay grade and time in service the member had attained on the date of the divorce.  This is quite different from what I described earlier.  The previous example included total years of service and highest grade held.  Under these new rules, the pay grade and years of service could be significantly different especially if the member serves several additional years and is promoted one or more times after the divorce.  The new formula would look like this.

 

M = DRP x [(MRP ÷ TRP) x (MPG x HPG)]

 

M is Marital Asset.

DRP is Disposable Retired Pay

MRP is Marriage Retirement Points (the total points earned during the marriage)

TRP is Total Retirement Points

MPG is Marriage Pay Grade (the rate of pay in effect on the date of divorce)

HPG is Highest Pay Grade (the rate of pay in effect when the member began to receive retired pay (assumes the possibility of promotions and additional years of service))

 

I’m going to borrow an example from one of the articles in the references section (http://www.increa.com/articles/division-2017NDAA-USFSPA-tutorial/NDAA-USFSPA-ContinuingEducation.pdf, if you’re interested) since it works very well.  The numbers below will not match the referenced article due to rounding.

 

We start off by calculating the total retired pay, $5,000 per month.  We know 4,700 retirement points were earned during the marriage and a total of 5,500 points were earned during the member’s career.  The retired pay based on the member’s rank, years of service, and the points earned during the marriage equates to $3,298 per month.  The court has awarded 50% of the marital fraction to the former spouse.  Here is how the formula appears with these numbers plugged into it.

 

M = ($5,000 x [(4,700 ÷ 5,500) x ($3,298 ÷ $5,000)] ) x 50%

 

When we divide 4,700 by 5,500, we get .8545 (or 85.45%).  Dividing $3,298 by $5,000 equals .6596 (or 65.96%).  The equation now looks like this.

 

M = ($5,000 x [(85.45%) x (65.96%)] ) x 50%

 

The next step is to multiply the two percentages in parentheses.  This gives us 56.36%.  Now the equation looks like this.

 

M = ($5,000 x 56.36% ) x 50%

 

It’s getting simpler now.  Multiply the total monthly retirement by 56.36%.  We get $2,818.14.  This is the marital fraction of the member’s retired pay.

 

M = $2,818.14 x 50%

 

The former spouse receives fifty percent of the marital fraction.  That amount is below.

 

M = $1,409

 

This is a considerable difference over the formula I showed earlier.  If we used the previous equation, the amount of pay the former spouse would have received would have been $2,136 per month.  One argument in favor of the new rule is the promotion(s) and additional years of service did not happen during the time of the marriage and therefore should not be included when dividing retired pay.  An argument against the new rule, sometimes called the “marital foundation theory,” states that the final pay grade and years of service was built on the joint efforts of the service member and former spouse during the marriage.  You can find articles supporting both of these standpoints in the references section below.

 

That’s it for now.  Next week I will cover medical and on-post benefits.

Thanks for joining me today and, of course, thank you for your service.

D.J.


References
: ·

 

MILITARY PAY CENTERS

Air Force
DFAS-Indianapolis Center
Attn.: Garnishments Section
8899 East 56th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46249-0875
Phone: 1-888-332-7411
Fax Coversheet:   https://corpweb1.dfas.mil/civpaywf/coversheet
Fax: 866-401-5849
*Utilizing coversheet  expedites processing time*

Army
DFAS-Indianapolis Center
Attn.: Garnishments Section
8899 East 56th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46249-0865
Phone: 1-888-332-7411
Fax Coversheet: https://corpweb1.dfas.mil/civpaywf/coversheet
Fax: 866-401-5849
*Utilizing coversheet  expedites processing time*

Commanding Officer (SES)
Coast Guard Pay and Personnel Center

444 Southeast Quincy Street
Topeka, KS 66683-3591
Phone: 785-339-2200
Fax: 785-339-3780
US Coast Guard Website (https://www.uscg.mil/ppc/)
E-mail: PPC-DG-CustomerCare@uscg.mil

Marine Corps
DFAS-Cleveland Center
Attn.: DFAS-CL/JFLTC
1240 East 9th Street
Cleveland, OH 44199-2005
Phone: 888-332-7411
Fax: 216-367-3614; DSN: 580-7011
E-mail: DFAS.CLEVELAND-OH.JFL.MBX.USMC-SPECIAL-PROCESSING@MAIL.MIL

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
NOAA Commissioned Personnel Center
1315 East-West Highway, Rm. 12100
Silver Spring, MD 20910-3282

Navy
DFAS-Cleveland Center
Attn.: DFAS-CL/JFLAGB
1240 East 9th Street
Cleveland, OH 44199-2005
Phone: 888-332-7411
Fax: 216-367-3666; DSN: 580-7603
E-mail: DFAS.CLEVELAND-OH.JFL.MBX.CCL-CATCH-62-CLE@MAIL.MIL

Public Health Service
U.S. Public Health Service
Division of Commissioned Corps Personnel and Readiness
Commissioned Corps Compensation
1101 Wootton Parkway, Plaza Level, Suite 100
Rockville, MD  20852
Phone: 240-276-8799
Fax:  240-276-8817
E-Mail: CompensationBranch@psc.hhs.gov


Podcast Episode 0053 – Military Divorce Minefields – Part 2 – Division of Retired Pay

 

References: ·

 

MILITARY PAY CENTERS

Air Force
DFAS-Indianapolis Center
Attn.: Garnishments Section
8899 East 56th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46249-0875
Phone: 1-888-332-7411
Fax Coversheet:   https://corpweb1.dfas.mil/civpaywf/coversheet
Fax: 866-401-5849
*Utilizing coversheet  expedites processing time*

Army
DFAS-Indianapolis Center
Attn.: Garnishments Section
8899 East 56th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46249-0865
Phone: 1-888-332-7411
Fax Coversheet: https://corpweb1.dfas.mil/civpaywf/coversheet
Fax: 866-401-5849
*Utilizing coversheet  expedites processing time*

Commanding Officer (SES)
Coast Guard Pay and Personnel Center

444 Southeast Quincy Street
Topeka, KS 66683-3591
Phone: 785-339-2200
Fax: 785-339-3780
US Coast Guard Website (https://www.uscg.mil/ppc/)
E-mail: PPC-DG-CustomerCare@uscg.mil

Marine Corps
DFAS-Cleveland Center
Attn.: DFAS-CL/JFLTC
1240 East 9th Street
Cleveland, OH 44199-2005
Phone: 888-332-7411
Fax: 216-367-3614; DSN: 580-7011
E-mail: DFAS.CLEVELAND-OH.JFL.MBX.USMC-SPECIAL-PROCESSING@MAIL.MIL

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
NOAA Commissioned Personnel Center
1315 East-West Highway, Rm. 12100
Silver Spring, MD 20910-3282

Navy
DFAS-Cleveland Center
Attn.: DFAS-CL/JFLAGB
1240 East 9th Street
Cleveland, OH 44199-2005
Phone: 888-332-7411
Fax: 216-367-3666; DSN: 580-7603
E-mail: DFAS.CLEVELAND-OH.JFL.MBX.CCL-CATCH-62-CLE@MAIL.MIL

Public Health Service
U.S. Public Health Service
Division of Commissioned Corps Personnel and Readiness
Commissioned Corps Compensation
1101 Wootton Parkway, Plaza Level, Suite 100
Rockville, MD  20852
Phone: 240-276-8799
Fax:  240-276-8817
E-Mail: CompensationBranch@psc.hhs.gov


YouTube Episode 0056 – Military Divorce Minefields – Part 2 – Division of Retired Pay

References: ·

 

MILITARY PAY CENTERS

Air Force
DFAS-Indianapolis Center
Attn.: Garnishments Section
8899 East 56th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46249-0875
Phone: 1-888-332-7411
Fax Coversheet:   https://corpweb1.dfas.mil/civpaywf/coversheet
Fax: 866-401-5849
*Utilizing coversheet  expedites processing time*

Army
DFAS-Indianapolis Center
Attn.: Garnishments Section
8899 East 56th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46249-0865
Phone: 1-888-332-7411
Fax Coversheet: https://corpweb1.dfas.mil/civpaywf/coversheet
Fax: 866-401-5849
*Utilizing coversheet  expedites processing time*

Commanding Officer (SES)
Coast Guard Pay and Personnel Center

444 Southeast Quincy Street
Topeka, KS 66683-3591
Phone: 785-339-2200
Fax: 785-339-3780
US Coast Guard Website (https://www.uscg.mil/ppc/)
E-mail: PPC-DG-CustomerCare@uscg.mil

Marine Corps
DFAS-Cleveland Center
Attn.: DFAS-CL/JFLTC
1240 East 9th Street
Cleveland, OH 44199-2005
Phone: 888-332-7411
Fax: 216-367-3614; DSN: 580-7011
E-mail: DFAS.CLEVELAND-OH.JFL.MBX.USMC-SPECIAL-PROCESSING@MAIL.MIL

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
NOAA Commissioned Personnel Center
1315 East-West Highway, Rm. 12100
Silver Spring, MD 20910-3282

Navy
DFAS-Cleveland Center
Attn.: DFAS-CL/JFLAGB
1240 East 9th Street
Cleveland, OH 44199-2005
Phone: 888-332-7411
Fax: 216-367-3666; DSN: 580-7603
E-mail: DFAS.CLEVELAND-OH.JFL.MBX.CCL-CATCH-62-CLE@MAIL.MIL

Public Health Service
U.S. Public Health Service
Division of Commissioned Corps Personnel and Readiness
Commissioned Corps Compensation
1101 Wootton Parkway, Plaza Level, Suite 100
Rockville, MD  20852
Phone: 240-276-8799
Fax:  240-276-8817
E-Mail: CompensationBranch@psc.hhs.gov

 


Military Divorce Minefields – Part 1 – Military vs Civilian Plans

I know writing this week’s article is going to be difficult.  I might even regret doing it.  Who knows?  It’s a touchy subject and I know full well that no matter what I do I will make someone mad at me (or, at least, at what I say).  I’m going to write it anyway.  The information needs to be put out there.  Deep breath.  “Damn the torpedoes.  Full speed ahead.”

 

Let’s talk about divorces in the military.  How do they affect service members, former spouses, their families, their money, and their benefits?  I am going to leave the more personal bits out of the discussion and talk mainly about pay, benefits, and survivorship.

 

We are going to get into some legal territory here. Let me say up front that I am not a lawyer or even a paralegal.  I do have a great deal of experience in this area from a retirement services perspective, though, and I will give examples of items with which I have dealt.  Let’s call this an “experienced layman’s point-of-view” supplemented by a great deal of research.  You can find several of the sites I visited in the references section below.

 

I certainly cannot go into all the different circumstances which could arise during a military divorce.  I will hit some of the most important highlights and describe them as best I can.  If I do get anything blatantly wrong, I welcome constructive criticism and correction.

 

Differences Between Military and Civilian Retirement Plans

 

First, let’s define what military retirement is not.  For civilian lawyers who are not regularly involved with military divorces, this is easily the most difficult to comprehend.  Civilian retirement plans are managed under a law called the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (or ERISA, for short).  ERISA defines the participation rules, funding, and vesting requirements for most pension plans in private industry.  Civilian lawyers are often very comfortable with how ERISA functions.  The problem here is military retirement does not operate in any way like an ERISA plan.

 

Just how different can civilian and military pension be, you may ask?  Well, here are several questions I was asked about a National Guardsman’s pension from a family law lawyer familiar with ERISA.

  1. What is the current balance of the member’s pension fund?
  2. What is the member’s contribution to the fund?
  3. What is the buy-out (or “lump-sum”) value of the fund?
  4. What portion of the fund was acquired during the marital period and what portion was vested on the date of divorce?
  5. Who is the asset manager of the pension fund?

 

See what I mean?  Even someone with a rudimentary understanding of military retirements can see that none of these questions can be answered satisfactorily.  The differences are just too great.  For example, while there is such a thing as the Military Retirement Fund on a macro level, there is no personal account for each service member.  There is no buy-out or lump-sum option (at least before the Blended Retirement System came to be and even then it would be difficult to calculate while the member is still serving).

 

The military pension, simply put, is a defined-benefit plan.  This means the member receives a certain standard amount or percentage of pay for each year of service.  Vesting, the point at which the benefit is definitely yours and cannot (usually) be taken away, is twenty years of qualifying service.  The same cliff vesting requirement holds true for most of the other benefits involved in military retirement, such as Tricare coverage and use of on-post facilities.

 

This all-or-nothing approach to pension eligibility is called “cliff vesting” and can be difficult for civilian attorneys to understand at first.  They are much more comfortable with the three to five-year vesting requirements of ERISA plans. Now throw in the unique nature of being a reserve retiree and you can practically see that lawyer’s head explode.  I recommend wrapping their heads in duct tape before telling them you’re a reservist so – when their heads do explode – you’ll at least have all the pieces in one place.

 

Now let’s take a quick look at how a division of pay and benefits would be accomplished.  Unless the terms of division are laid out in the divorce decree itself, division of assets usually occurs by way of a document called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (or QDRO – often pronounced Quah-Dro, for short).  A QDRO works for most divisible assets but isn’t necessarily best for military pensions.  Since military retirements are not “qualified plans” like IRAs and 401(k)s, but are statutory programs (meaning created and managed exclusively by federal law), it is best to use a Military Pension Division Order (MPDO).  I will include sample language for an MPDO in the references section of this article.

 

Here is an interesting sidebar I have seen repeatedly over the years.  On several occasions, I have read divorce decrees which ordered the service member to keep Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (SGLI) policies on themselves with the ex-spouse as the beneficiary.  The decree even mandated the member to keep this policy after leaving service.  There is some good news for the member, though.  A Supreme Court decision from 1981 (Ridgway v. Ridgway, 454 U.S. 46 (1981)) declared courts cannot enforce orders requiring SGLI coverage.

That’s all for this week.  Next week I will cover a touchy subject, the division of retired pay in a divorce.  Join me for that.

Thanks for joining me today and, of course, thank you for your service.

D.J.


References
: ·

 

MILITARY PAY CENTERS

Air Force
DFAS-Indianapolis Center
Attn.: Garnishments Section
8899 East 56th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46249-0875
Phone: 1-888-332-7411
Fax Coversheet:   https://corpweb1.dfas.mil/civpaywf/coversheet
Fax: 866-401-5849
*Utilizing coversheet  expedites processing time*

Army
DFAS-Indianapolis Center
Attn.: Garnishments Section
8899 East 56th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46249-0865
Phone: 1-888-332-7411
Fax Coversheet: https://corpweb1.dfas.mil/civpaywf/coversheet
Fax: 866-401-5849
*Utilizing coversheet  expedites processing time*

Commanding Officer (SES)
Coast Guard Pay and Personnel Center

444 Southeast Quincy Street
Topeka, KS 66683-3591
Phone: 785-339-2200
Fax: 785-339-3780
US Coast Guard Website (https://www.uscg.mil/ppc/)
E-mail: PPC-DG-CustomerCare@uscg.mil

Marine Corps
DFAS-Cleveland Center
Attn.: DFAS-CL/JFLTC
1240 East 9th Street
Cleveland, OH 44199-2005
Phone: 888-332-7411
Fax: 216-367-3614; DSN: 580-7011
E-mail: DFAS.CLEVELAND-OH.JFL.MBX.USMC-SPECIAL-PROCESSING@MAIL.MIL

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
NOAA Commissioned Personnel Center
1315 East-West Highway, Rm. 12100
Silver Spring, MD 20910-3282

Navy
DFAS-Cleveland Center
Attn.: DFAS-CL/JFLAGB
1240 East 9th Street
Cleveland, OH 44199-2005
Phone: 888-332-7411
Fax: 216-367-3666; DSN: 580-7603
E-mail: DFAS.CLEVELAND-OH.JFL.MBX.CCL-CATCH-62-CLE@MAIL.MIL

Public Health Service
U.S. Public Health Service
Division of Commissioned Corps Personnel and Readiness
Commissioned Corps Compensation
1101 Wootton Parkway, Plaza Level, Suite 100
Rockville, MD  20852
Phone: 240-276-8799
Fax:  240-276-8817
E-Mail: CompensationBranch@psc.hhs.gov


Podcast Episode 0052 – Military Divorce Minefields – Part 1 – Military vs Civilian Plans

 

References: ·

 

MILITARY PAY CENTERS

Air Force
DFAS-Indianapolis Center
Attn.: Garnishments Section
8899 East 56th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46249-0875
Phone: 1-888-332-7411
Fax Coversheet:   https://corpweb1.dfas.mil/civpaywf/coversheet
Fax: 866-401-5849
*Utilizing coversheet  expedites processing time*

Army
DFAS-Indianapolis Center
Attn.: Garnishments Section
8899 East 56th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46249-0865
Phone: 1-888-332-7411
Fax Coversheet: https://corpweb1.dfas.mil/civpaywf/coversheet
Fax: 866-401-5849
*Utilizing coversheet  expedites processing time*

Commanding Officer (SES)
Coast Guard Pay and Personnel Center

444 Southeast Quincy Street
Topeka, KS 66683-3591
Phone: 785-339-2200
Fax: 785-339-3780
US Coast Guard Website (https://www.uscg.mil/ppc/)
E-mail: PPC-DG-CustomerCare@uscg.mil

Marine Corps
DFAS-Cleveland Center
Attn.: DFAS-CL/JFLTC
1240 East 9th Street
Cleveland, OH 44199-2005
Phone: 888-332-7411
Fax: 216-367-3614; DSN: 580-7011
E-mail: DFAS.CLEVELAND-OH.JFL.MBX.USMC-SPECIAL-PROCESSING@MAIL.MIL

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
NOAA Commissioned Personnel Center
1315 East-West Highway, Rm. 12100
Silver Spring, MD 20910-3282

Navy
DFAS-Cleveland Center
Attn.: DFAS-CL/JFLAGB
1240 East 9th Street
Cleveland, OH 44199-2005
Phone: 888-332-7411
Fax: 216-367-3666; DSN: 580-7603
E-mail: DFAS.CLEVELAND-OH.JFL.MBX.CCL-CATCH-62-CLE@MAIL.MIL

Public Health Service
U.S. Public Health Service
Division of Commissioned Corps Personnel and Readiness
Commissioned Corps Compensation
1101 Wootton Parkway, Plaza Level, Suite 100
Rockville, MD  20852
Phone: 240-276-8799
Fax:  240-276-8817
E-Mail: CompensationBranch@psc.hhs.gov


YouTube Episode 0055 – Military Divorce Minefields – Part 1 – Military vs Civilian Plans

 

References: ·

 

MILITARY PAY CENTERS

Air Force
DFAS-Indianapolis Center
Attn.: Garnishments Section
8899 East 56th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46249-0875
Phone: 1-888-332-7411
Fax Coversheet:   https://corpweb1.dfas.mil/civpaywf/coversheet
Fax: 866-401-5849
*Utilizing coversheet  expedites processing time*

Army
DFAS-Indianapolis Center
Attn.: Garnishments Section
8899 East 56th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46249-0865
Phone: 1-888-332-7411
Fax Coversheet: https://corpweb1.dfas.mil/civpaywf/coversheet
Fax: 866-401-5849
*Utilizing coversheet  expedites processing time*

Commanding Officer (SES)
Coast Guard Pay and Personnel Center

444 Southeast Quincy Street
Topeka, KS 66683-3591
Phone: 785-339-2200
Fax: 785-339-3780
US Coast Guard Website (https://www.uscg.mil/ppc/)
E-mail: PPC-DG-CustomerCare@uscg.mil

Marine Corps
DFAS-Cleveland Center
Attn.: DFAS-CL/JFLTC
1240 East 9th Street
Cleveland, OH 44199-2005
Phone: 888-332-7411
Fax: 216-367-3614; DSN: 580-7011
E-mail: DFAS.CLEVELAND-OH.JFL.MBX.USMC-SPECIAL-PROCESSING@MAIL.MIL

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
NOAA Commissioned Personnel Center
1315 East-West Highway, Rm. 12100
Silver Spring, MD 20910-3282

Navy
DFAS-Cleveland Center
Attn.: DFAS-CL/JFLAGB
1240 East 9th Street
Cleveland, OH 44199-2005
Phone: 888-332-7411
Fax: 216-367-3666; DSN: 580-7603
E-mail: DFAS.CLEVELAND-OH.JFL.MBX.CCL-CATCH-62-CLE@MAIL.MIL

Public Health Service
U.S. Public Health Service
Division of Commissioned Corps Personnel and Readiness
Commissioned Corps Compensation
1101 Wootton Parkway, Plaza Level, Suite 100
Rockville, MD  20852
Phone: 240-276-8799
Fax:  240-276-8817
E-Mail: CompensationBranch@psc.hhs.gov



The Physical Disability Board of Review

Welcome to the last article in my medical retirement series.  I will post additional information in the future, of course, but this is the end of the official series.  Congratulations on making it to this point.

 

Finally, you’re at the end of it all.  The medical board are over.  You have a rating…or you don’t.  Either way, you’ve been separated from service as a result of your disabilities.  There’s one problem, though.  You either did not have enough of a disability rating to be medically retired or you think your rating should have been higher.

 

What do you do?  Well, there is an option for you.  There is a group of people called the Physical Disability Board of Review whose sole purpose is to examine cases submitted by people in your situation.  This obviously is not something you should do simply for grievances sake, but only if you think there are legitimate reasons to appeal.

 

Who can apply for consideration by this board?

 

Each branch of service has their own version of this review board.  I have posted some information about the some of those versions in the references below.  This is by no means all of what you can find about these boards and how to use them.  I advise using what I have posted as a starting point and doing a little homework of your own.

 

In the Army, there are two such boards with separate missions.  The Army Physical Disability Review Board (APDR) examines the results of previous medical boards.  It is for people who were separated or retired without pay for disabilities within the last fifteen years.

 

The APDR does not require a request form (some of the other services want a DD Form 294) in order to start a review.  Whichever way you go to request a board, be sure to include your full name, SSN, contact information, and what you think the result of the previous board should have been.  Write a good story.  You’re trying to sell your point of view.  Don’t just say something like, “I got blowed up and it hurt.”

 

Side note:  Yes, I have actually seen board requests with narratives like what I wrote above.  Some are even worse, like simply listing “foot patrol” as the reason for all of their ailments.  If writing is not your particular strong point, I recommend recording yourself telling someone the story of how you were injured and then transcribing exactly what you said.  I have used this technique successfully with service members in the past.

 

Back to it.  Once you have written the letter (or filled out the form), you should also include any evidence you think the board needs to consider.  This will often be the same documents you provided for the previous medical board.

 

The other board the Army has is called the Army Disability Rating Review Board (ADRRB).  This board only reviews those cases which are seeking a higher rating for disability pay purposes (military, not VA).

 

Except for having modified the opening sentence to make it more understandable, here is a quote from the board’s website about who is eligible to apply.

 

If you have a disability retirement order and seek a higher disability percentage, you may apply if the reason is:

  • Your original retirement order was based on fraud or a mistake of law;
  • You were not granted a full and fair hearing when you made a timely demand for such a hearing; or
  • You have substantial new evidence which, by due diligence, could not have been presented before the retirement decision and which would have warranted a higher percentage of disability.

Source: http://arba.army.pentagon.mil/disability-appeals.html

 

In English, this means you have a good reason to believe you were not properly rated during the medical board or you have new information which was unavailable at the time of the board.  This is not the place to present new problems you may have.  You should only send documentation about the injuries you claimed during the board (unless there are disabilities you would have claimed at the time but you did not have records to support the claim).

 

Once you have completed requesting the review and assembling the packet to go with it, you should send the packet up for consideration.  Federal law has directed the Air Force to be the lead agency for all of these types of reviews so you should send your packet to the address below.

 

SAF/MRBR

Attn: PDBR Intake Unit

550 C Street West, Suite 41

Randolph AFB, TX 78150-4743

 

The actual medical evaluation of your case is a joint venture, not just the Air Force so don’t worry about an unfair review of your request.  The Air Force simply has overall responsibility for tracking and reporting disability review cases.

 

There is far too much detail to make a simple explanation of the procedures of these boards possible.  I’m only trying to make you aware of the options available to you.  I recommend talking to a retirement services officer or legal counsel for more information about the board itself and how to make it work for you.  Every branch of service has a specialized group of lawyers available for this purpose.

 

Has this article helped you better understand your rights and options regarding medical evaluations and retirements?  I certainly hope so.  If there are questions looming in your mind then please put them in the comments section below and I will find an answer for you.

 

Don’t forget to forward this article to others who may find this information beneficial.  Understanding your rights and benefits is the whole point of this site after all.  I am sure your buddies will appreciate your willingness to share with them.

 

As always, thanks for joining me today and being part of this audience.  Lastly, but not the least, of course, thank you for your service.  Have a great day.

 

D.J.

 

 

References:
Physical Disability Board of Review (PDBR) (DODLive.mil)
Coast Guard Board for Correction of Military Records (BCMR)
Disability Appeals (Army)
Disability Review Board (Navy)
Physical Disability Board of Review FAQ (Health.mil)
Physical Disability Board of Review FAQ (afpc.af.mil)
DOD Instruction 6040.44 (dated 4 December 2017) – Physical Disability Board of Review (PDBR)
Physical Disability Board of Review Charter
DD Form 294 – Application for a Review by the Physical Disability Board of Review


Related YouTube Episodes
:
Help, I Need My Records. Where is My DD 214?
Should I Take Drill Pay or VA Compensation?
Change of Plans: New Series on Medical Retirement
I’m Medically Unfit for Retention. Now What?
Beware the IDES of Medical Boards…?
“Jackpot! I’ve Been Offered a HUGE Severance Payment.”  DJ says, “Don’t Take It.”
Interview With a PEBLO
“But My PEBLO said…”  The Truth About Concurrent Retired and Disability Pay
Continuation on Active Duty and Continuation on Active Reserve


Related Podcast Episodes
:
Help, I Need My Records. Where is My DD 214?
Should I Take Drill Pay or VA Compensation?
Change of Plans: New Series on Medical Retirement
I’m Medically Unfit for Retention. Now What?
Beware the IDES of Medical Boards…?
“Jackpot! I’ve Been Offered a HUGE Severance Payment.”  DJ says, “Don’t Take It.”
Interview With a PEBLO
“But My PEBLO said…”  The Truth About Concurrent Retired and Disability Pay
Continuation on Active Duty and Continuation on Active Reserve


Related Articles
:
Help, I Need My Records. Where is My DD 214?
Should I Take Drill Pay or VA Compensation?
I’m Medically Unfit for Retention. Now What?
Beware the IDES of Medical Boards…?
“Jackpot! I’ve Been Offered a HUGE Severance Payment.”  DJ says, “Don’t Take It.”
“But My PEBLO said…”  The Truth About Concurrent Retired and Disability Pay
Continuation on Active Duty and Continuation on Active Reserve


Podcast Episode 0046 – The Physical Disability Board of Review

 

So you have a problem with your disability rating? Here is how you might be able to fix it.

Send board request packets here:
SAF/MRBR
Attn: PDBR Intake Unit
550 C Street West, Suite 41
Randolph AFB, TX 78150-4743

References:
Physical Disability Board of Review (PDBR) (DODLive.mil)
Coast Guard Board for Correction of Military Records (BCMR)
Disability Appeals (Army)
Disability Review Board (Navy)
Physical Disability Board of Review FAQ (Health.mil)
Physical Disability Board of Review FAQ (afpc.af.mil)
DOD Instruction 6040.44 (dated 4 December 2017) – Physical Disability Board of Review (PDBR)
Physical Disability Board of Review Charter
DD Form 294 – Application for a Review by the Physical Disability Board of Review


Related YouTube Episodes
:
Help, I Need My Records. Where is My DD 214?
Should I Take Drill Pay or VA Compensation?
Change of Plans: New Series on Medical Retirement
I’m Medically Unfit for Retention. Now What?
Beware the IDES of Medical Boards…?
“Jackpot! I’ve Been Offered a HUGE Severance Payment.”  DJ says, “Don’t Take It.”
Interview With a PEBLO
“But My PEBLO said…”  The Truth About Concurrent Retired and Disability Pay
Continuation on Active Duty and Continuation on Active Reserve


Related Podcast Episodes
:
Help, I Need My Records. Where is My DD 214?
Should I Take Drill Pay or VA Compensation?
Change of Plans: New Series on Medical Retirement
I’m Medically Unfit for Retention. Now What?
Beware the IDES of Medical Boards…?
“Jackpot! I’ve Been Offered a HUGE Severance Payment.”  DJ says, “Don’t Take It.”
Interview With a PEBLO
“But My PEBLO said…”  The Truth About Concurrent Retired and Disability Pay
Continuation on Active Duty and Continuation on Active Reserve


Related Articles
:
Help, I Need My Records. Where is My DD 214?
Should I Take Drill Pay or VA Compensation?
I’m Medically Unfit for Retention. Now What?
Beware the IDES of Medical Boards…?
“Jackpot! I’ve Been Offered a HUGE Severance Payment.”  DJ says, “Don’t Take It.”
“But My PEBLO said…”  The Truth About Concurrent Retired and Disability Pay
Continuation on Active Duty and Continuation on Active Reserve


YouTube Episode 0048 – The Physical Disability Board of Review

 

So you have a problem with your disability rating? Here is how you might be able to fix it.

Send board request packets here:
SAF/MRBR
Attn: PDBR Intake Unit
550 C Street West, Suite 41
Randolph AFB, TX 78150-4743

References:
Physical Disability Board of Review (PDBR) (DODLive.mil)
Coast Guard Board for Correction of Military Records (BCMR)
Disability Appeals (Army)
Disability Review Board (Navy)
Physical Disability Board of Review FAQ (Health.mil)
Physical Disability Board of Review FAQ (afpc.af.mil)
DOD Instruction 6040.44 (dated 4 December 2017) – Physical Disability Board of Review (PDBR)
Physical Disability Board of Review Charter
DD Form 294 – Application for a Review by the Physical Disability Board of Review


Related YouTube Episodes
:
Help, I Need My Records. Where is My DD 214?
Should I Take Drill Pay or VA Compensation?
Change of Plans: New Series on Medical Retirement
I’m Medically Unfit for Retention. Now What?
Beware the IDES of Medical Boards…?
“Jackpot! I’ve Been Offered a HUGE Severance Payment.”  DJ says, “Don’t Take It.”
Interview With a PEBLO
“But My PEBLO said…”  The Truth About Concurrent Retired and Disability Pay
Continuation on Active Duty and Continuation on Active Reserve


Related Podcast Episodes
:
Help, I Need My Records. Where is My DD 214?
Should I Take Drill Pay or VA Compensation?
Change of Plans: New Series on Medical Retirement
I’m Medically Unfit for Retention. Now What?
Beware the IDES of Medical Boards…?
“Jackpot! I’ve Been Offered a HUGE Severance Payment.”  DJ says, “Don’t Take It.”
Interview With a PEBLO
“But My PEBLO said…”  The Truth About Concurrent Retired and Disability Pay
Continuation on Active Duty and Continuation on Active Reserve


Related Articles
:
Help, I Need My Records. Where is My DD 214?
Should I Take Drill Pay or VA Compensation?
I’m Medically Unfit for Retention. Now What?
Beware the IDES of Medical Boards…?
“Jackpot! I’ve Been Offered a HUGE Severance Payment.”  DJ says, “Don’t Take It.”
“But My PEBLO said…”  The Truth About Concurrent Retired and Disability Pay
Continuation on Active Duty and Continuation on Active Reserve