DoD Disability Retired Pay

Army National Guard: Drilling

Benefit Fact Sheet



The Department of Defense (DoD) compensates Soldiers who are retired for physical disability (Title 10, USC, Chapter 61). The Secretary of the Army (SA) may retire a Soldier of the Regular component who is found physically unfit to perform his or her duties due to a disability determined by the Army to be in the line of duty. To qualify for disability retirement, the Soldier must have completed at least 20 years of service creditable under Section 1208, Title 10, United States Code (10 USC 1208) or hold a combined disability rating of 30 percent or more for the disabilities determined to be unfitting for military duty. The 20-year threshold of 10 USC 1208 includes Reserve "equivalent duty service" (the product of the Soldier's membership and Inactive Duty Training (IDT) points divided by 360). This service is applicable to Regulars with former Reserve Service.


Army National Guard Soldiers are entitled to Disability Retired Pay when determined unfit for a permanent disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty while: 

  • Performing active duty or inactive training; 
  • Traveling directly to or from the place at which such duty is performed; 
  • After 23 Sep 1996, an injury, illness, or disease incurred or aggravated while remaining overnight, immediately before the commencement of IDT, or while remaining overnight between successive periods of IDT at or in the vicinity of the site of the inactive duty training In certain circumstances, there is no longer the requirement for the site of the IDT to be outside reasonable commuting distance.

Soldiers with medical conditions or physical defects that existed prior to service may be administratively separated without referral into the DoD Disability Evaluation System (DES) if the medical condition is identified prior to, or within, 180 days of the Soldier's initial entry on active duty or inactive duty for training or full-time National Guard duty.  The following criteria must be met:

  • The condition was not aggravated while on active duty or performing IDT or otherwise while in one of the covered statuses.
  • The medical condition does not disqualify the Soldier from retention under the provisions of AR 40-501, chapter 3.  (If disqualifying and the Soldier is not on AD, the Soldier would be processed under the procedures for Soldiers who do not meet medical retention standards.  Soldiers not on active duty are processed under the medical disqualification procedures.  Soldiers on active duty are referred to the DES.

Benefit Highlights:

The DoD Disability Evaluation System (DES) is the mechanism for implementing retirement because of physical disability. The DES consists of four elements: medical evaluation; physical disability evaluation, including appellate review; counseling; and final disposition. DoD Directive 1332.18 states, "The sole standard to be used in making determinations of unfitness due to physical disability shall be unfitness to perform duties of the member's office, grade, rank or rating because of disease or injury." The assignment of disability ratings shall be based on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Schedule for Rating Disabilities (VASRD).

The military disability retirement plan is a defined benefit plan that is based on the basic pay being earned near the end of the Soldier's career and either the number of years of service (YOS) or severity of the disability. To qualify for disability retirement, the Soldier must be determined to be unfit for military service and have a disability rated at least 30 percent by the Army. The monthly retired pay begins immediately after retirement and is a lifetime entitlement. A member found unfit with less than a 30 percent disability receives a Disability Severance payment.

The basic retirement formula is:

YOS x 2 ½ % x retired base pay OR

% of disability (not to exceed 75%) x retired pay base

The retired pay base is the average of the highest 36 months of basic pay earned for those Soldiers who entered service on or after September 8, 1980.

When a member is retired for disability, he or she is entitled to all the rights and privileges of any other military retiree. This includes entitlement to a military retired identification (ID) card that authorizes medical care, Post Exchange (PX) and commissary shopping privileges, and use of morale, welfare and recreation facilities (space-available). There are no provisions in the law for increasing or decreasing a Soldier's compensable disability rating after the effective date of permanent retirement.

Additional Information:

For more information, visit the following DoD web links to obtain the DoD disability directive, instruction, and policy memorandums modifying these two documents.

Online Resource for Americans with Disabilities:

Document Review Date: 6 August 2015