Consider Your Separation Package Carefully

In a recent Ask June question, a veteran inquired if there was any way to go back and change the choices he made when he left the service.  He was part of an overmanned field and was given a bonus to leave the service before reaching retirement eligibility.  Unfortunately, the short answer is no – decisions made regarding separation packages are permanent.

Like decisions regarding separation packages, decisions made regarding the Survivor’s Benefit Plan are rarely able to be changed.  You need to be sure to carefully think through all the short-term and long-term implications of all the options before you make a final decision.

Even though you may not change the terms of your separation package, you may be able to make other moves that can work in your favor.  A return to active duty or reserve status might allow you to reach retirement eligibility.  Some federal jobs allow you to use your military service time towards your time-in-service pay grade and also towards a federal retirement pension.

When the time comes for you to leave military service, be sure to consider any benefits that might be offered to you and think about it from every angle before signing on the dotted line.  Those decisions can’t be undone!

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • Cassandra Prescott-Sapp

    What if the military kicked you out on their own? I had been in the National Guard for almost 8 years when I had re-enlisted for another 6 years. I was sent to a Fit For Duty exam in which I was sent papers stating that I had to chose to stay in or be medically discharged. I chose to stay in and sent all the correct papers that I had. I had not heard any news within a year and a half so I got in touch with my congressman. I was sent my NGB-22 that stated I was Honorably Discharged due to being medically retained. I never signed any papers to get out or know why I was discharged. What can I do to find out? The unit I was in claims they have no paper work except to say I was discharged out of their unit. Thanks.

  • KateKashman

    Wow, Cassandra, that is way above my level. I’m afraid to comment at all because I know nothing about this situation.


  • Fire

    I say for them to offer you a choice to be medically discharged, then ge the medical findings for the basis that would have been for your medical discharge. When you opted to stay in did you sign a wavier agreeing to that any medical conditions you may have from the date of signing that you will not claim military connected? If so then they placed you out finding a pre exsisting aliment (meaning prior to joining the military) and thus why you recieved an honorable discharge. The wavier you signed along with whatever they found medically wrong gave them the authority to discharge you and cancel the contract. If there is nothing wrong with you get copies of your fit for duty exam and doctors notes… by chance did they ever put in writing the two choices they gave you? hope this helped somewhat …..

  • fire

    I replied in new comment area…hope this helps

  • darla n

    my son is being discharged w/ a general discharge…not honorable…because he hasn’t been in 180 days…even though he has technically…he was taken out of his classes end of april and this week is 180 days…so it stopped counting in April…doesn’t make sense as he’s still paid, still reporting for pt, etc, etc every day…going home cuz he has minor medical issues…so frustrating too because they’ve ‘LOST’ his paperwork, then had him do wrong paperwork etc so release keeps delaying…how can i help? someone to call?? starting to really lose respect for military personnel that are in charge…

  • George

    ALWAYS! Get in touch with your Congressman. Things will happen very quickly after he makes a phone call. It’s like magic!

  • kevin

    hi, my name is kevin..and was wondering if i could recieve any benefits for school if i was generally discharged and if so which ones…

  • Billie Jo Bolton

    If I received an honorable discharge with bar to reenlist separation code and I finished at least 30 months of my 3 year commitment can I be eligible to file for disability non service connected disability for severe depression, anxiety disorder, 8% back disability, and 10% neck disability dx through workmans compensation physician. I have not worked in over three years and I have no income at all?

  • tom

    my grandson has been in service a little less than a year. he spent 4 years in rotc before he joined. recently they discovered that his heart is enlarged and told him he may be medically separated. will he be able to get any benefits from the military if he is disabled. I am concerned they may discharge him and he will have no insurance or income and may be unable to get work.

    • Kate

      Tom, this is way out of my league. The military should be responsible for any medical issues that happened as a result of his actual military service. However, I’m not a doctor, so I don’t know how an enlarged heart would be caused military service. This is going to be a very specific situation. The military should NOT be responsible for medical issues that existed prior to his military service.