DoD Disability Retired Pay
Benefit Fact Sheet
The Department of Defense (DoD) compensates Soldiers who are retired for physical disability (Title 10 USC Ch. 61). The Secretary of the Army (SA) may retire a regular component Soldier who is deemed physically unfit to perform their duties as the result of an injury incurred in the line of duty. To qualify for disability retirement, the Soldier must have completed at least 20 years of creditable service , in accordance with 10 USC 1208, or have service-connected disabilities that caused the Soldier to be unfit for duty and amount to a combined disability rating of 30 percent or more. The 20-year threshold established by 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 Regular Soldiers with former Reserve Service.
Active duty Soldiers are entitled to Disability Retired Pay if they meet all of the criteria below:
The Soldier incurred a permanent disability (or permanently aggravated a pre-existing medical condition), which caused them to be unfit for military duty, while serving on active duty for more than 30 days
The Soldier was entitled to basic pay, or the disability was incurred while the Soldier was on active duty but was not entitled to basic pay due to authorized absence to participate in an educational program or for an emergency purpose as determined by the SA
The disability was not the result of intentional misconduct or willful neglect; and
The disability was not incurred during a period of unauthorized absence.
Soldiers with medical conditions or physical defects that existed prior to service, e.g., incurred in a civilian status, 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 all be met:
The condition was not aggravated while on active duty or otherwise performing military duty
The Entry Physical Standards Board must be convened by the 180th day
The medical condition does not disqualify the Soldier from retention under the provisions of AR 40-501, chapter 3. If disqualifying, Regular and Reserve Component Soldiers on active duty must be referred to the DES. A Reserve Soldier, who is not on active duty, must be provided the opportunity for a fitness determination by the PEB under the "non-duty related referral process."
Pursuant to 10 USC 1207a, a disability incurred prior to active duty will be treated as if it were incurred while the member was entitled to basic pay, for the purpose of considering whether incurred in the line of duty, as long as the member has at least eight years of active service and was on active duty for more than 30 days when the fitness determination was made. The provisions of 10 USC 1206a modify application of 1207a to Reserve Component Soldier called to active duty. If the Reserve Component Soldier is released by the 30th day of active duty due to identification of a pre-existing condition not aggravated within the 30 days, the Soldier will not have met the 30 day active duty requirement. The provisions of 10 USC 1207a do not apply to Reserve Component Soldiers who are referred to the DES after they are released from active duty.
The DoD Disability Evaluation System (DES) implements retirement based on physical disability. The DES consists of:
Medical evaluation to include the MEB, impartial medical reviews, and rebuttal
Disability evaluation to include the PEB and appellate review, counseling, case management and final disposition.
Pursuant to DoD Directive 1332.18, 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 incorporates basic pay history and either the number of years of service (YOS) or severity of the disability. To qualify for disability retirement, the Soldier must be deemed unfit for military service and have a disability rating of at least 30 percent. The monthly retirement pay begins immediately after retirement and continues for the duration of the retired member’s lifetime. A member deemed 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, they are 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.
For more information, visit the following DoD web links to obtain the DoD disability directive, instruction, and policy memorandums modifying this document:
Online Resource for Americans with Disabilities:
DoD Office of Warrior Care:
Army Recovery Care Program: