Military Separation and Retirement - The Essentials

Transitioning to civilian life is just like everything else in military life. The more preparation you do, the more smoothly everything goes. Whether you’re moving on after one tour of duty or you’ve put in 20 years or more, you have a lot to do as you bring your military career to a close.

Keep the following in mind while planning:

Know your separation requirements.

Your first step should be connecting with the Transition Assistance Program of your service branch. Here, you'll find detailed information about what's included and how to connect with your service branch’s program. Make sure you schedule your pre-separation counseling no fewer than 90 days before separation. Arrange your final medical exam. Attend an employment workshop. Give yourself time when scheduling your final move.

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Plan your post-retirement budget.

Review your military retirement pay, benefits and expenses to plan your budget and calculate what you'll have each month. You’ll receive one of three types of non-disability retirement pay: Final Basic Pay, High 36, or CBS/REDUX. Remember that federal and state taxes will be withheld from your retirement, and just like your active-duty pay, your retirement pay adjusts annually based on cost of living to protect your income against inflation.

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Learn about the benefits you’ve earned.

As an active-duty service member, you receive numerous benefits. What happens to them when you retire? It can vary greatly.

  • You can sign up for TRICARE Prime when you retire or you will automatically be enrolled in TRICARE Standard.
  • You have one calendar year from your retirement date to use your last government-paid move anywhere within the U.S. or to your home of record outside the country.
  • Your Servicemembers Group Life Insurance plan continues uninterrupted for 120 days after separation.
  • You have up to 10 or 15 years after separation to use your GI Bill (depending on the program).

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Military OneSource can help you connect the dots from your military service to the next step in life’s journey. Call us at 800-342-9647 to get your questions answered. OCONUS/Overseas? Click here for calling options.