Guard and Reserve Handbook – Pay, Benefits, & Career Information

The Air Force recently published the 2015 Guard & Reserve Handbook. While this is targeted at the Air Force, there is a ton of great information for anyone serving in either the Guard or Reserves. I’ll dive in and share a few things you can learn from this resource, including information on pay, benefits, and…
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The Air Force recently published the 2015 Guard & Reserve Handbook. While this is targeted at the Air Force, there is a ton of great information for anyone serving in either the Guard or Reserves. I’ll dive in and share a few things you can learn from this resource, including information on pay, benefits, and career information. And since this is targeted toward Air Force members, I’ll be sure to break things down into two categories – general Guard and Reserve information for members of all branches, and Air Force specific information.

Let’s take a look at what you can find in this document:

2015 Guard & Reserves Handbook – All Branches

Guard and Reserve HandbookThe following information in the Guard and Reserves Fact Sheet applies to all members of the Guard or Reserves, regardless of branch of service. This is a great resource to better understand your pay and benefits. Many of these benefits are also covered in more detail the following articles & podcasts:

List of Guard & Reserves programs & benefits:

Download the 2015 Guard & Reserves Fact Sheet.

Quickly calculate your retirement pension. One thing that surprised me was the Guard/Reserve point valuation chart. This chart shows you how to quickly calculate your Guard or Reserve pension by multiplying the point value in the chart for your rank and years of service by how many points you earned while in the military. This is a quick back of the envelope way to calculate your potential retirement pension when you reach age 60. Keep in mind that the actual dollar amount may vary widely, depending on your current age, years until you reach 20 good years of service, years until you reach age 60, and other factors.

In my case, I have 8 good years of service, with 6.5 of those on active duty. I can conservatively estimate that I will have approximately 3,600 points if I remain in the Air National Guard until I reach 20 good years of service. That equates to about 10 years on active duty. So back of the envelope math tells me I would earn 25% of a traditional retirement pension (2.5% *10 years). But using the points gives me a little more flexibility with my calculations. Because I am only 35 years old, I have a long time until I would reach age 60, which is when retirees traditionally begin receiving their pensions. Instead of trying to determine potential pay raises and cost of living increases, it’s easier for me to look at a potential pension in today’s dollars, with the understanding that I will most likely have a promotion or two, and there will be intermittent pay raises along the way.

2015 Guard & Reserves Fact Sheet – Air Force Specific

There is a lot of information in this document that is Air Force specific. If you aren’t in the Air Force, you can certainly skip those sections. But if you are in the Air Force, then this information is gold for your career in the Guard or Reserves. The best way to succeed is to understand the system and find ways to work with it. I highly recommend learning how the Officer and Enlisted promotions and performance reports systems work. The better you understand those, the better you can prepare yourself for promotions.

Understanding the assignment system is also important if you wish to move units. Many members of the Guard and Reserves choose their unit because of location, but it’s important to know that you may have better opportunities for promotions or career growth if you are willing to change units.

Here is the information from the 2015 Factsheet that is specific to Air Force members:

  • How to contact the Total Force Service Center
  • Virtual Personnel Center Dashboard
  • MyPers applications and services
  • Reserve Force Development
  • Officer promotions
  • Officer performance reports
  • Enlisted promotions
  • Enlisted performance reports
  • Reserve assignments
  • Finding new assignments
  • Notification of activation
  • Individual Reserve management
  • Claims for service credit
  • ANG/Reservist entitlements table
  • ANG/Reservist retirement benefits table
  • ANG/Reservist survivor benefits table
  • Voluntary separation incentive and special separation benefit
  • Reserve categories
  • Air Reserve Component field training
  • Air Force Instructions

Download the 2015 Guard & Reserves Fact Sheet.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force illustration/Master Sgt. Christian Michael

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  1. Stephen Steinfeldt says

    I was on active duty in the USAF from 18 Aug 1967 to 17 Aug 1969 as a medical officer. Per my DD 214 I was commissioned 8 Jun 1966 and I was in the inactive Reserves until 19 Apr 1973 although I did not resign my commission until 1977. I am currently 79 and started my Social Security in 2006 when I reached 65. Am I eligible for any increase in Social Security (including back payments) and if so, how do I determine this? Are there any forms that I should use? Just writing and/or calling to the Social Security Administration is usually an exercise in futility.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Stephen,

      Please see this article for how military service impacts Social Security benefits.

      The Social Security Administration (SSA) is supposed to automatically award credits for service between 1968 – 2001. So it’s possible this only impacts a few months of your service time.

      I don’t know the process or the form to use – this is where you will need to contact the SSA or a Social Security Benefits counselor/expert. I also don’t know if the SSA awards back pay – again, this is a question for the SSA or an expert on this topic.

      Best wishes.

  2. Kevin Collins says

    If I acquire 7,300 retirement points (with over 20 consecutive satisfactory years), am I eligible for an active duty retirement?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Kevin,

      The only way to qualify for active duty retirement benefits is to complete 20 years of active duty service. So if you have 7,300 points that do not include drill periods, AT days, or other inactive time, then yes, you may qualify. If you are using your inactive points to reach this number, then the answer is, no. You would not qualify for active duty retirement. But you’ll have one heck of a Guard/Reserve retirement when you reach your retirement age!

  3. Gretchen Evans says

    I have 20 good years from combination active duty and National Guard, total estimate points is 5932. Retired as an E/9. Turn 60 in 2020. Stayed in Retired Reserve from 2006 to present. How do I calculate my possible retirement monthly income?

  4. Larry D Neeley says

    After 17 years total 2 yrs active 15.5 yrs in the reserves with the Army/Usar am I entitled to some retirement pension .Reserve unit relocated from Chicago to Wisconsin and later disbursed to another unit couldn’t afford the time travel every month.Left with an Honorable Discharge.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Larry, Unfortunately, one needs 20 good years to qualify for retirement benefits unless they are medically retired or they are retired under the Temporary Early Retirement Authority (TERA). You would know if you qualified under either of those.

      If you are still under age 60, it may be possible to join another unit in order to earn retirement benefits. You would need to speak with a recruiter to see if this is possible and what your options are.

      I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

  5. Clark Davis says

    Hey Ryan, I just got divorced and need to determine the value of my retirement at the date of separation (from her). I have another 11 years before I am 60 but I just need to know the value of my retirement at date of separation in order to do equitable distribution. What factors do I need in order to determine that value? I notice above you have the factors: Points earned, time in service, and the point value according to my rank. So is that it? Are there any other factors that I need to be aware of to use for this calculation?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Clark, You can determine the value of your military retirement pay based on your current base pay, the number of Points earned, your time in service, and points value. There may be other considerations, but I’m not sure what else you might need. You may be able to get an official estimate from your branch of service’s personnel department, or from DFAS, but I’m not sure how that process might work. It may be a good idea to speak with your lawyer or have your both of your lawyers determine what information to consider. I hope this is helpful.

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