All things must come to an end at some point in time. My husband has about 12 months left on this last re-enlistment and then he is retiring. ¬†6 months ago this point in time seemed so far away, now I suddenly feel like the year is almost over and we are not at all ready to transition into the civilian world.
Fortunately, the military is trying their best to make it easier for career military to transition out of the military to a civilian life by offering Transition Assistance Program (TAP) classes.¬†TAP was established to meet the needs of separating service members during their period of transition into civilian life by offering job-search assistance and related services.¬†Transition GPS includes a mandatory five-day workshop with additional days of optional training depending upon the path that service members select and spouses are encouraged to attend and take advantage of the program as well.
About your finances
The Social Security Administration has this article,¬†Special Extra Earnings For Military Service, available. ¬†This program, under certain circumstances, indicates¬†special extra earnings for your military service from 1957 through 2001 can be credited to your record for Social Security purposes. These extra earnings credits may help you qualify for Social Security or increase the amount of your Social Security benefit.
Your income is changing. ¬†Retirement pay only comes in on the 1st of each month. ¬†Your final pay may be withheld until it is confirmed you owe nothing back in pay but you can speed this process by asking for an audit of your final pay before your retirement date. Your final check can be held up to 120 days so it pays to be prepared and have a contingency plan. ¬†Once you do receive that final check, login to myPay to ensure that the Active Duty pay area is now gone to avoid unpleasant surprises. ¬†You or your spouse may qualify for VA Disability pay. ¬†My husband does and those in his field have reported some real horror stories in regards to securing those benefits. ¬†We have found many who have retired within the last few years have some great information and knowledge to help us navigate this really chaotic time period. Find someone you trust who is willing to share their information with you. ¬†Along with that, review the VA Benefits website on a regular basis. ¬†The more familiar you are with their policies and procedures, the easier it will be to catch errors.
Planning on passing on your GI Bill benefits to your spouse or children? ¬†Be sure you have completed your designations prior to your retirement.¬† Learn all about the GI Bill and how to start using it at the VA’s GI Bill website. ¬†Be sure to ask about other educational benefits that may be available, such as the Chapter 35 benefits that come with a 100% disabled rating.
Figure out WHERE you want to retire. ¬†Did you know that many states offer amazing benefits to retired and disabled vets? ¬†You can search online for state benefits and if you are open to a new places, you may find a different state is where you want to retire.¬† Once you retire, you lose any tax advantages of being active duty and claiming residency in other states. You are a resident of the state you physically reside in.
Retiree insurance benefits can be really confusing. Do you stay with TriCare Prime, go with TriCare Standard¬†or find your own plan? ¬†You need to carefully examine all costs and requirements before committing to a plan and know how to change it with as little financial impact as possible. ¬†If you choose to stay with TriCare Prime¬†and prefer to be seen at an MTF, retirees are taken on a space available basis.¬†You must¬†choose your plan¬†and pay¬†before¬†the 20th of the month prior to your retirement.¬†TriCare Vision for retirees allows for an eye exam every 2 years vs every year as active duty. TriCare Dental requires that you pre-pay 2 months’ premium upon enrolling.
Purchasing a home is something many want to do after their military service is over. You no longer have deployments, training and TDY’s looming over your head and are ready to put down roots. Some suggest making sure you close on that home prior to retirement, others have suggested waiting for your VA Disability to kick in so you won’t have to pay any funding fees. ¬†Be sure to talk to your TAP GPS instructor to find out where you can get solid advice on this.
Working after retirement
You or your spouse may need or want to continue working after retirement. ¬†If so, there are a TON of resources out there for veterans and spouses who are looking for work. ¬†Finding military friendly companies that are looking to hire vets is becoming much easier these days. ¬†Job fairs centered around military spouses and veterans are everywhere, even on your local base, so be sure to check those out and take advantage of them.
Take some time to utilize social media and other online sites that offer resources for resumes, job searches and recruiters.
- LinkedIn is becoming a front-runner for those¬†looking to get hired and they are offering a 1-year Job Seeker Premium subscription free to all Veterans and Servicemembers.
- USAJobs is the¬†Federal Government’s official source for federal job listings and employment opportunity information and provides a variety of opportunities.
- VetJobs is sponsored by the VFW and is a leading source for candidates with security clearance.
- Hiring Our Heroes is a nationwide initiative to help veterans, transitioning service members, and military spouses find meaningful employment opportunities.