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How COVID-19 Changes Affect Training, Duty, Pay and Benefits for the National Guard and Reserve

Current as of  Oct. 5, 2021

As changes due to coronavirus disease 2019 continue, reservists and members of the National Guard may wonder about impacts.

The following questions and answers address ways that sheltering-in-place orders, self-monitoring and other changes may affect your training, duty, pay and benefits.

Your local government has set guidelines to keep the community healthy. The DOD has taken these steps to help keep its members healthy:

  • Authorized telework when duties allow
  • Started daily health screening for jobs where remote work isn’t possible
  • Restricted personnel movement and travel (now resuming in phases as local conditions allow)
  • Required face masks on installations when 6-feet of social distancing isn’t possible
  • Implemented tiered COVID-19 testing of military personnel

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 extended the period for collecting deferred 2020 Social Security taxes. The collection will now span from Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2021. This spreads the repayment across 12 months of pay instead of four (Jan. 1-April 30, 2021), as previously ruled.

The Internal Revenue Service will collect the 2020 deferred Social Security taxes from reservists and guardsmen performing intermittent duty in 2021 in amounts of 2% of net available pay from each weekly, mid-month and end-of-month pay until all the deferred taxes have been collected (amounts withdrawn may vary per pay period).

Access your myPay Leave and Earnings Statement to view the monthly collection amount and remaining balance of deferred Social Security taxes, beginning in January 2021.

If you retire or separate before the deferred Social Security taxes have been repaid in full, the IRS will collect the remaining amount from your final paycheck or you will receive a letter with instructions for repayment.

For more information on the 2020 tax deferment, see the Background section of the Social Security Payroll Tax Deferral page on the Defense Finance and Accounting Service website.

Your commander has the authority and flexibility to schedule or reschedule AT and IDT (drill or unit assembly). This may include:

  • Authorizing absence
  • Authorizing equivalent training
  • Adjusting or rescheduling IDT
  • Rescheduling AT
  • Rescheduling IDT at alternative places of duty for no less than four hours
  • Authorizing telework
  • Providing as much notice as possible for future rescheduled IDT and AT dates

Your commander may use EBDL in place of drill to fulfill common training requirements. Commanders may grant exceptions for reservists unable to perform EBDL.

Reserve Component members on active duty or FTNGD must follow all DOD travel and force health protection guidance. If a commander orders restriction of movement for self-monitoring, they may issue a voluntary order, with the member’s consent, to retain the RC member on active duty or FTNGD. For National Guard, a governor’s consent for certain voluntary orders may be required.

Commanders will ensure that Reserve Component members scheduled for release from active duty or FTNGD receive consideration for restriction of movement for self-monitoring prior to release. If the service member scheduled for release is affected by a stop movement order or travel restrictions, the commander may:

  • Extend current orders for RC members on involuntary order authority (where extension of orders would not violate any mobilization limits by law)
  • Reissue voluntary order for those members on involuntary order authority — may only reissue with member’s consent (where extension of orders would violate any mobilization limits by law)
  • Extend current orders for RC members on voluntary order authority — may only issue or extend with member’s consent (governor’s consent for certain voluntary orders may be required for members of the National Guard)

Safety measures for deployment and redeployment include:

  • Appropriate screening at the assigned place of duty or point of embarkation
  • Assessment of exposure history, temperature and any COVID-19 signs and symptoms and past test results
  • Consultation with a DOD health care provider if direct screening isn’t possible
  • Evaluation and testing, if necessary, of anyone with a fever or affirmative responses to screening questions
  • Isolation following DOD guidance for anyone who tests positive during screening or meets the clinical case definition of probable infection
  • Mandatory 14-day restriction of movement for all service members before deploying outside the United States (or after arrival, with permission)
  • Mandatory assessment before redeployment to see if 14-day restriction of movement is indicated

COVID-19 restrictions may prevent service members from performing specific duties tied to special or incentive pays such as Hazardous Duty Incentive Pay or Aviation Incentive Pay. For service members already eligible to receive performance-based special or incentive pays, the assistant secretary of defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs recently announced that authorized service secretaries can waive the performance requirements for specific duties and allow members to continue to receive their pay for up to 12 months because of COVID-19 restrictions. The service member should speak to their chain of command to find out if they qualify for this waiver.

Existing policy ensures that RC members with SGLI, Traumatic SGLI or Family SGLI coverage will remain in good standing even if they have unpaid premiums resulting from members not receiving active or inactive duty pay (where payments are typically deducted). With previously scheduled ADT, IDT or annual trainings being canceled, suspended, deferred or excused because of COVID-19 restrictions, RC members should expect a lump sum to be deducted from their pay, for premiums previously missed, once IDT, ADT and AT resumes and pay begins again.

Yes. You can review and adjust your SGLI coverage through the SGLI Online Enrollment System. If you have other questions about how COVID-19 may affect your pay and benefits, contact a personal financial counselor through your Family Center or the Office of Financial Readiness.

Yes. The Department of Veterans Affairs has extended the deadline for applications received between June 11, 2020 and June 11, 2021 by 90 days. The VA recognizes that COVID-19 has hurt some veterans financially and can make it difficult to see a doctor and obtain medical records to establish eligibility for VGLI. Visit the VA’s Veterans’ Group Life Insurance page for more information.

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