Waiver of VA Compensation to Receive Military Pay – VA Form 21-8951

You can serve in the Guard or Reserves if you have a VA disability, but you may have to waive VA Disability Compensation in order to receive military pay.
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VA Form 21-8951 - Waive VA Compensation to Receive Military Pay

Members of the Guard or Reserves are eligible to serve if they have a VA service-connected disability, provided they are physically cleared. However, there is one big caveat: they cannot receive VA compensation on the same day they receive military pay. To serve again, you must waive either your VA pay or your military compensation.

Table of Contents
  1. How Military Pay Works with VA Disability Compensation
  2. Information Found on Form 21-8951
  3. Filling out Form 21-8951
  4. What if there are Errors on Your Form 21-8951?
  5. How to Decide Which Pay to Waive
  6. What Happens After You Waive Your Pay?
  7. Final Notes

How Military Pay Works with VA Disability Compensation

The law states you cannot receive both forms of payment for the same day or work. However, both payments are actually made at the same time. You will receive your VA disability payment around the first of the month, and you will receive your drill pay at the normal payment schedule.

At the beginning of the year (usually around February), you should receive VA Form 21-8951, Notice of Waiver of VA Compensation or Pension to Receive Military Pay and Allowances (pdf). You will use this form to elect which pay you want to waive—your VA pay, or your military pay.

We will cover the information on this form, what it means, and how to fill it out.

Notice: Annual Waiver Required. This form is now an annual requirement. The VA previously offered a one-time waiver of disability benefits that was to remain in effect until your Guard or Reserve status changed, or you withdrew the waiver. That form is no longer valid.

Information Found on Form 21-8951

Your form 21-8951 will show the fiscal year and the number of training days you performed during the year. A normal drill year would be approximately 63 military training days: 48 drill days (12 months times 4 drill periods per month), and 15 active training days.

Your form 21-8951 will also include information on the following:

  • Instructions on how to complete the form,
  • your VA File number & Social Security Number,
  • a check box to verify the information is correct, or
  • a check box to mark that the information is incorrect and a space to mark the correct number of days served.
  • a section to elect which pay to waive (note: waiving military pay and allowances will most often result in LESS money for you; this is marked clearly on the form),
  • a section to verify the information and sign it,
  • a section for your unit Commander to sign the form.

Filling out Form 21-8951

There are only three sections where you can take any action. If the information on your form is correct, check the first box in the first section. Next, determine which pay to waive (see below section), then sign and date.

According to the VA, M21-1MRIII_v_4_secC (Word Doc):

  • The Veteran must always sign VA Form 21-8951.
  • The Veteran’s unit commander must sign VA Form 21-8951 only if the Veteran reports fewer training days than the Hines ITC printed on the form.

If your information is correct, then you do not need to have your unit Commander sign it. However, the veteran is always required to sign and return the form.

Note on VA Form 21-8951-2. This form is essentially a blank version of Form 21-8951. It will not have the number of training days listed, and you will need to self-report the number of days for which you received pay. The VA always requires both the Veteran and the Veteran’s unit commander to sign VA Form 21-8951-2.

Should you get your Commander to sign the form if there are no errors on your form? I’m not going to tell you to do it or not to do it. But think of it this way: most Commanders are very busy. Do you want to interrupt their schedule to sign something unnecessary? And do you want to call attention to yourself for having a service-connected disability? I’ll let you answer those questions.

What if there are Errors on Your Form 21-8951?

If there are errors on your Form 21-8951, you need to get the correct information from your unit personnel or finance department. Then you will need to write in the corrected information in the section on the back.

Important: If there are errors on your form, you will need to get your Unit Commander or Designee to verify the correct number of training days and sign your form.

How to Decide Which Pay to Waive

The calculation is simple:

  1. Review your base military pay for a full month as if you were on active duty.
  2. Review your monthly VA disability compensation rate.
  3. Waive whichever pay is lower.

Important: You must look at the full monthly rate for your pay grade and time in service, not your drill pay!

Why do you compare the full monthly rate for military base pay and VA disability compensation?

Because you must compare apples to apples. The long-hand method is to determine exactly how much you earned from the VA for the period you earned military compensation, then compare that to how much you earned from the military. But that takes a lot of work.

The government gives us a shortcut: Each day counts as 1/30th of a month’s rate. So if your VA disability compensation were $300 a month, each day of VA disability compensation is worth $10 per day. And if you earn $3,000 in military base pay, each day is worth $100.

Because both systems prorate compensation the same way, you don’t need to determine how much money you earned from the VA or the military. Whichever base pay is higher is the one you want to keep. And you want to waive the lower monthly payment rate.

It should be quick and easy to determine which payment is better to waive. In most cases, you will be better off keeping your military pay and waiving your VA pay for the period involved. 

The only time your VA pay will be higher than your military pay is if you have a very high VA disability rating and are a low or mid-ranking military member. But you should always run the numbers to verify.

What Happens After You Waive Your Pay?

The government will simply withhold future payments. So if you have 63 days of military pay and elect to waive your VA compensation, you would have roughly the next two months of disability payments withheld. You can run the numbers to determine exactly how much will be withheld.

Remember, each day counts as 1/30th of a month’s rate. So if your VA disability compensation were $300 a month, each day of VA disability compensation is worth $10. If you have 63 days of military pay and waive your VA compensation, you would have $630 withheld, $300 in each of the first two months, then $30 from the next month. After that, your full compensation payments will resume.

Final Notes

Form 21-8951 includes the following statement: “If we do not receive a waiver from you, we will assume that you wish to waive VA compensation or pension for the number of days printed on the front of the form. However, we will not adjust your award until we have advised you of the specific changes we propose to make.”

That said, everything I have read states completing this form is a requirement if you receive both VA disability compensation and payment from the military. Training days can include all forms of military service while in the Guard or Reserves, including Inactive Duty Training (IDT), Active Training (AT), Active Duty Special Work (ADSW), Readiness Management Assemblies (RMA), activation for training, mobilization, etc.

However, you should also note that if you are called to active duty for an extended period, you should contact the VA to suspend your VA compensation payments until you return to inactive status.

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  1. Marie Dautenhahn Robinett says

    HI, I found your site after receiving a notice from the VA that I owed them money for an entire year of drills performed. My disability started at the end of May 2019 and I retired in Nov 2019. I appealed, and thought it was fixed. Now I have a letter I owe them over $7,800 because I didn’t waive my disability pay while I drilled. I have binders with all my paperwork and I don’t have any record of ever receiving the VA Form 21-8951 from any source, (Guard, VA, my PEBLO- nothing). It appears they are trying to collect for 64 days in 2019 and 9 days in 2020. Whose job was it to give me the form in the first place? I don’t see it in any checklist and it definitely wasn’t part of my VA counseling. And why are they calculating for an entire year in 2019, and more days than I actually drilled in 2020???

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Marie,

      Thank you for your question. The VA sends veterans a copy of Form 21-8951 once a year. However, it doesn’t always come at a set schedule. They try to send it near the beginning of the year, however, I know people who have received it pretty much any time throughout the year.

      2020 was also a weird year for VA disability compensation and drilling members of the Guard or Reserves. As you mentioned, drilling while receiving VA disability compensation creates a debt to the VA. However, due to the pandemic, the VA paused collections of these debts for many veterans (this would include the debts incurred for 2019 military service). I don’t know if your debt was paused or not. Only the VA can tell you that.

      As far as your situation goes, I recommend printing a copy of your Points Summary Statement, drill orders, or any official documentation you have that shows the specific dates in which you served in a military capacity during the 2019 calendar year. You will want to be able to show the date your disability award started and cross-reference your military service to show the total overlap of the days served. Keep in mind that you want to show the effective date of your VA disability award – sometimes they are backdated. If your award was backdated to May, then use that date. If the decision was made in May, but backdated to an earlier date, use the earlier date. It will also be helpful if you have a copy of the appeal letter and documentation you previously sent.

      With that information in hand, you should visit a VA customer service representative to have them help you with this situation. Hopefully, this can be done in person with someone who has the knowledge and authority to update the system for you. If not, see if they can assist you with filling out another letter of appeal.

      You may also wish to seek assistance from a Veterans Service Organization such as the DAV, AMVETS, American Legion, VFW, etc. They have trained benefits counselors who may be able to assist you.

      I hope this points you in the right direction and I wish you the best!

  2. Ruth says

    which should I elect to waive if I have 47 training days and I receive 1000 a month of VA compensation. my monthly military pay is about 400.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Ruth,

      The easiest way to determine which pay to waive is to look at the full monthly base pay for each form of compensation and waive the lower of the two. 

      For example, say you earn $1,000 a month from the VA and the base military pay for your rank and time in service is $3,000 per month. In this case, you would want to waive your VA disability compensation.

      The reason this works is that these payments are prorated on a monthly basis. Your $400 drill pay is based on serving 4 days out of 30. If you only had 4 days of VA disability compensation, it would be $133.33.

      If you look at all 47 days, you would get VA compensation ($1566.67) and military pay ($4,700.00), again, assuming a base military pay of $3,000.

      In this case, waive your VA disability compensation.

      Best wishes!

  3. Xavier says

    How does submission work? What is the prime submission date to account for waiving Comp pay on your drill dates, Should I submit asap since we are already within FY21 and with this time frame being already October 23 are there impacts??

  4. Shayne says

    The VA form 21-8951 asks how many training days? I went to drill a total of 9 times(Saturday and Sunday) during the fiscal year, so how many training days would that be considered?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Shayne, In this case, the VA is interested in how many days or periods you received military compensation. Each drill weekend consists of 4 periods, a morning and afternoon drill period on both Saturday and Sunday. So 9 drill weekends would equal 36 drill periods, or the equivalent of 36 days of military pay.

  5. Jake says

    Does mandatory MEDCON orders qualify for VA comp repayment? I had back surgery after my last deployment with the Guard, put on MEDCON for 6 months, my rating increased and was back dated to day of surgery. There were numerous errors by finance on base, my civilian employer and the VA totaling over $3500 out of pocket in debt letters all said and done. Is this worth compiling letters and pay info for requesting a hearing with county VSO to try to negotiate the MEDCON comp repayment. Between deployment and surgery that was 14 months comp waived.

  6. Mike Ramsey says

    Does this apply to both Title 10 and Title 32 orders? A guardsman is being called up by the state under Title 32, will his drill pay still be recouped?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Mike, I don’t have a reg, but a reader wrote that “if called up by the state during an emergency and PAID by the state, those would not be counted as drill days.”


  7. Troy says

    Ryan – If a Soldiers with a VA rating goes on active duty, can they choose to waive active duty pay or is it mandatory they waive the VA disability pay? I ask because a junior Soldier rated at 100% would likely make more from the VA disability pay than their base pay, especially with VA pay being tax free. If so, would that affect BAH at all?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Troy, This is a good observation, but I don’t think it is possible to waive military pay while serving on active duty pay. If one were to do so, I imagine they would also have to waive other forms of military compensation, such as BAH, BAS, etc. But I don’t have a definitive answer. Any servicemember who was thinking of doing this should contact their finance or pay office, as well as the VA for specific answers.

      Best wishes.

  8. Cody A Stires says

    As a means to ensure I do not find myself in any type of financial distress, I put all my drill pay directly into a savings account and only pull it out when the VA withholds my pay. That allows me to have a consistent pay check hitting my account so I can plan accordingly. After the VA withholds my pay, I get a nice ‘bonus’ from the left over money in the account. Just food for thought.

  9. Cathy L says

    My husband retired April 2018 and has 100% rating and has been receiving disability compensation since May 2018. This year (2019), we received a letter stating that my husband has 54 drill pay days and VA wants to recoup the over payment. This makes no sense to us since he retired in April and only started getting disability compensation in May. We have tried 2 times for VA to review and change their decision and even have the Paralyzed Veterans of America help us to no avail. Is “concurrent receipt” for the same day or for the fiscal year? Please let me know what else we can do to contest this.

  10. Parker says

    Am I overthinking this? I am a Army Reservist (O4) with a 80% disability rating. Month Drill is $1083 and my month VA pay would be $2001. Declining my drill pay would be a net positive of almost a $1000 a month. The only time I would make more in a month is during my 15 days AT, but for a whole year I would make more taking the VA payments. Seems like a no brainer, am I missing something?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Parker, yes, you are overthinking this. Pay is waived on a pro-rated basis, meaning you only waive VA disability compensation for each day you receive military compensation. A standard drill weekend is 4 drills, so you would receive 4 days worth of military pay. You would only have to waive the corresponding number of days of disability compensation. The DoD and the VA both use 1/30 to determine the value of one day of pay. So your VA pay of $2,001 per month equals $66.70 per day ($2,001/30), or $266.80 per 4-drill period ($66.70 * 4).

      So waiving your military pay would result in giving up $816.20 per month ($1083 – $266.80).

      The easier way to do this is to compare the active duty base pay per month to your VA disability compensation. You should always waive your VA disability compensation if the active duty pay is higher, which it almost always is, with the exception of those with a very high VA disability rating and a very low pay grade (this is rare).

      Waive your VA disability compensation.

  11. Jenn says

    I am receiving 80% and some of that is due to PTSD (MST). I just called an Army recruiter to ask about the waivers but he said I would be disqualified because of the PTSD alone. Is that true? I don’t always believe the recruiters because I know its a hassle to do more paperwork.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Jenn,

      There is no maximum VA disability rating that prevents someone from joining the Guard or Reserves. However, there are specific medical conditions that may prevent one from joining the military.  

      PTSD is one of the medical conditions that the military is paying a lot of attention to. It is also listed as a disqualifying condition in the Department of Defense Instruction for Medical Standards for Appointment, Enlistment, or Induction in the Military Services, also known as the DoDI 6130.03 (PDF).

      I’m not sure if there are waivers for this condition. You would need to ask your recruiter if this is possible. I wish you the best, and thank you for your service.

  12. Chris says

    What if we have no idea how many duty days in the Guard we are going to do? I’m aviation, so on top of 24 drill days, and AT days, we also have AFTP days. All in all, I’ll probably do somewhere around 80-100 days.

  13. Laura Enos says

    Hi Ryan,

    My husband had been receiving 10% disability pay for some time, until it randomly stopped coming in. He was initially receiving the disability pay while also working in the Guard (drill weekends only). He then switched to the Reserves (still drill only). For the last two years he has not received a penny of his disability. He was just informed by the VA that he should never received disability pay while receiving pay from the DOD for drill and he will not receive anymore disability pay until he is completely out of the military. According to what I have read, this is not correct. We have called countless individuals, but seem to be in a bind with figuring this out. What would your suggestion be in this case? Thank you.

  14. Kay says

    Hello. I am looking for some help. I just recieved a letter from the VA stating I recieved VA Benefits (Disability Rating 40%) & 53 Training Days of Drill pay at the same time. I filed for Disability right after retirement (14 yrs. AD, 6 yrs. Reserve) but my initial Intent to file was never pulled so when I filed a second time the VA back dated my disabilty to the initail Intent to file. This is what I figured out.
    2018 W-2 $4500; Disability Pay $746.90/30=24.89*53=$1319.52
    Looking at the above problem…It would be better to waive Disability, Right?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Kay,

      Yes, it is usually better to waive disability pay. All you need to do is to compare your monthly base military pay to your monthly disability compensation amount. Waive whichever is lower. In this case, waiving the disability compensation is the way to go.

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

  15. Amanda says

    If I made the choice to waive va disability, does it effect me being at to go to the va for medical issues?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Amanda,

      To my understanding, waiving VA disability on VA Form 21-8951 only waives your VA compensation for the number of days or drill periods served in the prior calendar year. It does not change your VA benefits, other than having that amount of compensation recouped. You can verify this with the VA customer service line.

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

  16. Maria says

    I was curious about the points. I enlisted in the reserves prior to receiving my rating. I just found out I am rated at 100%. I have not reported to my reserve unit yet as the next drill isn’t for a couple weeks. If I opt to waive my reserve pay, I heard I will not get my drill points. So if I opt to waive my VA comp will I still not receive my points?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Maria,

      I don’t recommend waiving your Reserve pay or doing anything that would impact your ability to receive points. Most people choose to waive their VA disability compensation, which is usually lower than their military base pay. You are still eligible to earn points if you elect to waive your VA disability compensation.

      Note: you only have to waive VA compensation for the number of periods you drill. So for a normal drill weekend with four drill periods, you would only waive four days of VA disability compensation. You can do this via VA Form 21-8951 which is sent out at the end of the year. The VA will then withhold future disability compensation payments to make up for the difference.

      To determine which pay to waive, simply waive the pay that is lower – compare your monthly VA disability compensation payment to your base military pay (full month, not just the drill pay). In most cases, people elect to waive their VA disability compensation. Your situation may be different since you have a 100% rating. But if it is close, I would just waive the VA pay. Choosing to waive the military pay means you need to pay it all back in a lump sum at the end of the year.

      Best wishes!

  17. COL Drew Moore says

    This is still confusing. From reading the post, it looks like we get the form already filled out as far as number of days served. It also looks like the site is telling us to take one pay or the other. That is wrong. We can take both forms of pay. BUT, we either have to pay back the drill days paid, or complete the form. I get my notice about my VA pay, but there has never been ANY information about how to opt out of pay for drill days. The Guard doesn’t know what to do, except give bad info, because they don’t know the VA system. And, the VA doesn’t seem to be able to tell me how to do this. I get a letter and end up calling someone to agree for the VA to recoup its pay for my duty days. I haven’t even been able to get a straight answer from any Veteran Services group.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Col Moore, Yes, you can receive both forms of pay at the same time. However, the way the federal law is written, one cannot earn both forms of compensation for the same period. So one of them must either be repaid. You can choose to drill for points only, but most people don’t want to do that since they would come out behind in regard to total compensation. So most people choose to waive their VA disability compensation.

      However, you can’t opt out of receiving your VA disability compensation for drill days. There is simply no way to have the VA turn off your VA compensation for each drill weekend, IAT days, etc., then immediately turn it back on. The VA will allow a veteran to stop their VA disability compensation pay if they are activated. However, the VA rep I spoke with recommended not doing this because it may take several weeks to restart your disability pay once you are deactivated (this is also the reason you can’t turn off your VA disability pay for a drill weekend, individual training, etc., then immediately turn it back on).

      The only good way to handle this is to turn in the form each year. In most cases, the VA will reconcile your drill days and other service periods with DFAS. Then they will send you a copy of the form. If it is correct, you can simply sign it and return it. If there is a problem with the form, then it needs to be corrected, signed by the member’s commander, and then returned to the VA. The VA will then withhold your future disability compensation payments equal to the number of days for which you received compensation the previous year.

      Yes, this is complicated. However, the VA disability system and DFAS are two different pay systems. They don’t communicate in real time. So this is the system we currently have to deal with.

      I hope this is helpful.

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

  18. Christopher Guzman says

    I was wondering when it is mandatory to have your commander sign your 8951. The form says the commander’s signature is required but in this forum it states that the commander is only required to sign when: “The Veteran’s unit commander must sign VA Form 21-8951 only if the Veteran reports fewer training days than the Hines ITC printed on the form. I was wondering what is considered “fewer training days than the Hines ITC” and where I could find this information. Thank you

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Christopher,

      You should compare your annual Points Summary Statement to the numbers on the VA Form 21-8951. If the numbers match, then there is no need to get a commander’s signature. The VA information on file is correct, and you are good to go. If the numbers don’t match, you will need to provide the correct numbers, then obtain your commander’s signature.

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

  19. Zoe says

    Hi Ryan!
    Im currently in the Navy Reserves. Before I joined the reserves on February
    i filed for VA claim in January. I already did some drill weekend before I found out that I was awarded 80% disability rating and I was unaware that they back paid me until I got a call from them. My concern is the reserve is sending me to training school for 3 months; What should I tell the VA and will it be possible to waive my military pay after the training? Are they going to separate me if they find out i was awarded 80% disability?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Zoe, The VA will send you a waiver form at the end of the year detailing the number of days you received compensation for both VA disability compensation and military pay. (Note: a drill period counts as one day, so a drill weekend would be four days).

      Review the form once you receive it and verify the number of days is correct. Then you will decide which pay to waive. In almost all cases, it makes sense to waive the VA disability compensation (remember, you waive pay on a per day basis, and most VA disability compensation will be less than military base pay).

      If you choose to have your VA disability compensation withheld, the VA will simply withhold future payments for the number of days you served the previous year. In other words, you would accrue a debt which would be paid off via future withholdings. This is normally done as a percentage of your monthly payment; the VA doesn’t withhold the full amount unless you ask them to.

      Regarding the upcoming 3 month school – I contacted the VA about a similar situation. The told me it is possible to have your VA disability compensation withheld during an activation. However, they also mentioned that starting and stopping payments could be unreliable. The VA customer service representative actually recommended not stopping payments and just dealing with the large number of days with dual compensation. Just understand that if you do, your future VA disability compensation payments will be withheld accordingly.

      Will the Navy separate you? I can’t answer that. Generally, the military is concerned with the member’s ability to fulfill job requirements, pass PT tests, and maintain worldwide deployment eligibility. If you meet those three criteria, you are generally good to go.

      However, some branches have recently started cracking down on certain disability ratings, or reviewing them more closely. So I can’t really speak for the Navy or general DoD policies in that regard. I recommend continuing your service as you are able. If the conditions you have a disability rating for worsen or interfere with your ability to perform your duties, then you would want to reevaluate your situation.

      I hope this is helpful. I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

  20. Sean says

    Hi Ryan, thanks for the information. My question is the law says you cannot get paid on the same DAY for both drill and VA. I mostly do 2 drills in one day, however the waiver request form considered each drill an individual day. So I did roughly 100 drills, however most of those were 2 drills a day, so they should only withhold 50 days of pay, correct? If not, please point me to the proper reference because I’m requesting a change to my waiver form. Thanks for the help!

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Sean, I read this as “Period” not “Day.” Here is the reference from VA Form 21-8951-2 (bottom of Page 2).

      RESPONDENT BURDEN: We need this information to determine whether you choose to waive your VA compensation or pension or your military pay and allowances for the days for which you received training pay (10 U.S.C. 12316 and 38 U.S.C. 5304(c). Title 38, United States Code, allows us to ask for this information. (Source VA Form 21-8951-2)

      This is section 38 U.S.C. 5304(c):

      38 U.S. Code §?5304. Prohibition against duplication of benefits

      (c) Pension, compensation, or retirement pay on account of any person’s own service shall not be paid to such person for any period for which such person receives active service pay. Source.

      You receive a day’s pay for each Drill Period. You can earn up to two Drill Periods on a day.

      The VA considers each Drill Period as one day’s pay for the purposes of the waiver.

      So far as I am aware, the VA’s interpretation is correct. I would call the VA to verify.

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

  21. Joe Snuffy says

    Total Service….Army Res and active duty 17 years (3 of those years were active duty).
    At year 13, received a service connected disability at 90%. Stayed in Reserves for 3.5 more years with the 90% rating, and continued to drill and forfeit va pay at the beginning of each new year.
    Went IRR Individual Ready Reserve for 1 year due to divorce and needed to focus on my kids — had a letter from my commander with intent to return. While on the IRR, I sustained an aggravation to the service connected injury that unfortunately caused me to have multiple surgeries leading to a loss of civilian career in the line of duty (firefighter).
    The VA rating was bumped up to a 100% but I was unable to get any compensation (due to IRR STATUS) for my military years of service as per life insurance, medical tri care for family. Am paying 950 per month for medical insurance for family. Have 5 children and a spouse.
    Was unable to submit to the med board in the Army due to being in the IRR at the time.
    Was able to get back into reserves with out a physical due to a direct transfer from IRR TO Army Reserve.
    Do not want to waste people’s time, but once back in, simply want to submit my medical status to the med board. Do not want money from the Army and drill for points only. Have a profile for alternate events etc. Live in pain and struggle each day with just normal daily tasks.
    Sitting in an MOS IMMATERIAL position due to my Combat Medic status no longer valid.
    I drill only for points while I am getting my paperwork processed for the army med board. Am possibly needing a 3rd surgery to remove hardware that broke and shifted in my body relative to service connected injuries.
    I’ve heard of other 100% vets in the reserves drilling only for points and sign in for 1day of pay per quarter so that they can pay for their SGLI.
    AM I IN JEPORDY OF LOSING MY VA RATING? My condition is not getting better and can be supported by medical records. I simply want to receive my benefits from my Army years of service if possible because the system doesn’t allow a person in the IRR the ability to do so.
    Did I make a mistake? Can I lose my VA Rating. Just want what I have learned the right to have as per benefits for my years of service from the Army.
    Please respond and feel free to email me directly. This is a really big deal.
    Thank you and God bless you

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Joe Snuffy, This is outside of my level of expertise. It seems to me like a MED Board may be the best option. But I believe that needs to be initiated by the medical section on base.

      I recommend visiting the PEB Forums, which is an online forum focused on medical boards, VA disability benefits, and similar topics. You can join anonymously and should be able to find some better advice than I would be able to provide.

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

  22. Jamie Gudmestad says

    Hi Ryan,
    This is a great article. I have a question for anyone who might be able to help. I did my last reserve duty (37 drill days) at the beginning of 2017 (mid January to 10 February) right before I retired in March and then filed to get VA disability on the 16 February and was awarded 30 percent which I got through the rest of the fiscal year. I got a notification in late January (with a date late December, *shady*) saying that I was concurrently paid for FY 2017 and that they will be taking some money back. I sent them a reply saying I wasn’t concurrently paid and send copies of orders with dates on them. So then they sent me another notification say you weren’t concurrently paid but it was in the same fiscal year so we are taking it back anyway. So are they in the right doing this?

  23. Eric says

    I received both VA and drill pay for 2017 and received a letter advising that I had 53 days of drill pay and that I have a debit. The question I have is. My 53 days of drill pay was all RSTs and was documented on a 1380. I received one check for the total days worked. So for that month I received drill pay I’m I only required to pay the difference of my VA monthly payment for the month. I hope this makes sense.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Eric, it’s based on the number of days in which you received compensation for both military service and VA disability compensation on the same day. If you received 53 days of military compensation, you would need to waive either 53 days of VA compensation or 53 days of military pay. It doesn’t matter if all the days occurred in one month, or spread throughout the year. The good news is the pay is prorated, so if you have to waive 53 days of VA disability compensation, that will come out to less than two months of VA pay. The VA will generally only recoup a portion of the payment each month as well, reducing the amount that is withheld from each check.

  24. D. Lewis says

    My situation: 14 years active + 10 Reserve + 3 Guard. 90% Va Rating. I already have my 20 year letter.

    I never wanted to go back into reserve. Active duty coerced me into this by telling me I would not get my separation pay for QMP if I did not go back into reserve. It was a lie. QMP members should be RE-4 coded. They erroneously coded me as RE-3 just to get me into reserve.

    As far as I am concerned, the military should have med boarded me but just got lazy and let things get so bad that I could not keep up physically, thereby leading to my QMP.

    I should have been separated from reserve service immediately upon receiving that 90% rating. It makes no sense that I can be 90% rated, non-deployable, yet still be in service. I cannot do anything worth a damned for the military anymore. It’s demoralizing and insulting to keep me like some broken relic.

    A government employee can collect both pay and disability without any problem. I know because I am one.

    A politician can collect both pay and disability without any problem. Of course, they take care of themselves.

    Only military members are burdened with this rule. That is the thank you get from your government!

    Unless you have not reached that 20 years for reserve or guard retirement or your rating is so low that drill pay is actually a huge benefit, I would advise everyone to NOT to reenlist. It’s up to you, but that is my opinion.

    I guess, if you are bored and just want to play weekend warrior, that *might* be a reason, but I cannot agree that it’s a good one. There are certain standards that must be met and anyone that cannot meet those standards must be separated.

    Also, don’t blame the VA for this. This is all on Congress. They made this rule.

  25. Jeff says

    What if you got the letter and it states 24 training days for FY17 which is correct however I went to drill from October 16 through March 17 and my va comp claim was filed in April 17 and wasn’t approved until September 17. I never collected both va comp and drill pay concurrently? I’m rated at 60% and don’t know what to do???? I shouldn’t owe anything based on the fact I never collected both concurrently right? I’m lost

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Jeff, The VA may have awarded your claim to the date you filed your claim. Check your VA award letter for the effective date. That will let you know when your VA disability compensation started. If they backdated your award, you would have likely received back pay from the date of the award. In that situation, you may have received both forms of compensation on the same date.

      Contact the VA and/or DFAS for clarification.

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

  26. SA72 says

    Hi Ryan,

    I receive 70 percent disability pay from VA = $1343.00. I am still in the reserves. My monthly drill pay is $643.00 plus $ 1000.00 incentive bonus equaling $ 1643.00. I am about to be called up for a 6 month activation. Were I not to file a VA Form 21-8951, when will I be required to pay back the difference to the VA? At the end of the activation or will they start to withhold disability payments as soon as VA finds out?

  27. James Micko says

    I am retired Army Reserve preparing my VA disability claim. I am hearing conflicting information (not here but from others). Am I subject to this waiver clause?

    To clarify… I know about the retired pay waiver, My question is in regard to if I am subject – as a retiree – to the IDT pay waiver. Thanks.

  28. Natasha Gunter says

    Hi! I’ve been called up for a IRR muster. I know I need to waive my VA pay for that day. Will that end up being 1/30th of my usual disability payment?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Natasha, Thank you for your question. The answer is yes, just 1/30th your normal pay if it is only for that one day. I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

  29. Mary says

    My husband was discharged from the army due to reduction in force and received separation pay. He then joined the army reserves and later got awarded VA disability. They have been recouping his separation pay for over three year. During these three years he has been receiving drill pay. Will he had to pay back all the drill money he has got?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Mary, Thank you for your question. Separation pay is awarded in lieu of retirement pay. The amount of money the veteran received as separation pay will be withheld if a member later receives VA disability benefits or a military retirement. It sounds like your husband had some or all of his VA disability compensation withheld while the government is recouping the separation pay.

      I do not know how it works when the member is having VA disability compensation withheld while also receiving drill pay. This is a situation I haven’t seen written dow. So unfortunately, I don’t have a good answer for you. I recommend contacting the VA or DFAS. Explain the situation, and ask what to expect. This is something they should have come across before and should be able to help you with. I wish you and your husband the best!

  30. Eboni says

    I’ve been IRR for a year and half, recently I was contacted by the Army reserves to finish out my contract. I’m getting 80% disability from the Va, which isn’t permanent but hasn’t changed yet and I’m not sure if I should waiver my va pension or my reserves pay when I start doing my paper work.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Eboni, Thank you for contacting me. You will want to run the numbers based on what your drill pay will be vs. your VA disability compensation (to do this take the full VA disability compensation for that month and compare it to the active duty base pay per month. The benefits will be pro rated on a daily basis, so it’s bests to simply compare the monthly rates as published). Waive whichever pay is lower.

      In most cases, waiving the VA disability compensation makes the most financial sense. The only times it doesn’t are when the service member has a very high disability rating and is a lower ranking military member.

      For example, an 80% rating in 2018 (veteran alone) is $1,587.25. All military ranks with more than 4 months of service time earn more than that per month. So someone receiving this amount would be better off waiving their disability compensation.

      The only time it makes sense to waive military compensation is when the individual receives much more through the VA, and is lower-ranking. For example, a 100% disability rating (veteran alone) in 2018 is $2,973.86 per month. There are several ranks that earn less than that per month.

      Just run the numbers for your situation.

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

      • J. Hernandez says

        Hi Ryan,

        Since VA disability would be waived pro-rated per day, does the VA withhold pay for just the drill days, then compensate a lower amount per month? Or does the VA withhold for those days then continue full compensation?

        For example,

        63 days training withheld from VA compensation = 63 days no VA disability, then full compensation month per month and still receive full military pay? This is pretty awesome, if so.

      • Ryan Guina says

        Hello J. Hernandez,

        Thank you for your question. The VA will send you the form each year to verify your service, and which pay you wish to waive. In most cases, the member should waive the VA disability compensation, which is almost always lower.

        When you send in your form, the VA will withhold your disability compensation until the amount has been recouped. So in the example you gave above, the VA would normally withhold the VA disability compensation for the first two months after processing the form, then an additional 3 days. Then the compensation payments resume in full.

        That said, the VA can also withhold a percentage of disability compensation instead of the full amount. This is more common when members have a lot of active duty time in the previous year. The VA may, for example, withhold 50% of VA disability compensation until the full amount has been recouped. The veteran can contact the VA to have the withholding percentage changed if needed.

        For example, I know a veteran who was on active duty status for 6 months of training. When the VA started withholding his disability compensation, they did so at a rate that wouldn’t pay off the balance owed within the year. He didn’t want to be in debt to the VA, so he contacted the VA customer service desk and asked them to increase the withholding percentage in order to pay off the debt more quickly.

        It’s always a good idea to review this each year to make sure the service days are calculated correctly, and the payments are withheld at a reasonable rate. If needed, just contact the VA and ask them to change the withholding percentage to pay off the balance more quickly.

        I hope this helps. I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

  31. Alex says

    I have to recoup 94 training days for FY 2016.

    My VA rating is 70% with dependents at $1,451.71 per month.

    According to Box 1 on my Air National Guard taxes W2 – Wages, Tips, and other
    compensation is $17,005.26

    Which W2 box amount do I use to calculate whether to waive Mil Pay or not?

    Do I divide Box 1 ($17,005.26) by 12 months = ($1,417.10) and then divide that further by 30 days = ($47.23) to then multiply that by 94 training days =
    ($4,440.26) to compare that with the VA disability rate for 94 days pro-rated?

    The difference under that calculation is:

    VA benefits waived option = $4,548.69

    ANG pay waived option = $4,440.26

    So, for a difference of $108.43 it would be best to elect to waive VA benefits for 94 training days, correct?

    That is if I am using the correct amount from the W2 form.

    Thank you for any feedback, I need to send this form back ASAP. Have a good day!

  32. Sherri says

    hi sir
    I was wondering can they stop my drill pay and have me no pay due if I owe to VA. Will they be able to do that. I didn’t understand the letter very well and I have received a letter stating they had sent it to the particular area to process. Can you explain the process of this matter. I had check the block from waiving the military pay for va benefits at which I do not get much of this. I want to take the payment out of the VA check instead.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Sherri, Thank you for contacting me. It is almost always better to receive your military pay instead of the VA pay. It is only in extreme circumstances that VA disability compensation exceeds military compensation (usually only if you have a very high disability rating and you are in a middle, to lower enlisted rank). Please keep in mind that the pay is prorated on a daily basis, so you don’t have to forfeit your VA compensation for the entire month.

      As an example, if your base military pay for the month is greater than the monthly VA disability compensation, then you should always waive the disability compensation. I’m not referring to the amount you receive for drill pay. You need to compare the base military pay for the full month compared to the VA compensation for the full month. In most cases, the base military pay is greater than the VA disability compensation.

      You will need to fill out VA Form 21-8951 to waive your VA disability compensation and the VA will withhold future payments until the amount has been recouped. I hope this is helpful.

  33. Charlie says

    Sorry if this question has already been asked. I got out of active duty with a severance pay and I joined the reserves thereafter. My question is: since I am receiving zero net money from the VA since they are recouping my severance pay, when I choose to waive my 63 days of VA pay, will the that extend my time for the VA to recoup my severance pay? I.E before I joined the reserves my VA dis was suppose to kick in March 2019, but since I am waiving my VA dis yearly, will each year in the reserves extend the VA recoup finish date? So instead of March 2019 will it now be May 2019, etc?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Charlie, Thank you for contacting me. This is a great question, and unfortunately, I don’t know. I would contact the VA customer service line. They should be able to give you an answer. I would be happy to update this article if you receive an answer and shoot me an email.

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

  34. Brian says


    Firstly, I would like to thank you for your spectacular and informative article, and for the assistance and detail you are providing to those in need.

    I separated from Active Duty Army back in August of 2016. At the time, I thought for sure that I was not going to be doing any continuation of service in the Reserves or Guard, and I had suffered a number of physical injuries throughout my time in service, so I elected to file a VA Claim while out-processing. I ended up signing an Air National Guard contract shortly thereafter, and enlisted without a break-in-service to the new branch. I was cleared medically by the Air Force at the time of enlistment, and being that I did not have any service-connected disability at the time I did not require any sort of waiver. I have been serving since (including present day) as a drilling reservist, including the typical schedule of AT days and so on. I have not been seen by medical for anything here on base (other than routine), and I have completed all tasks required of me – point being, no Profiles/hindrances of job performance due to disabilities. I attended the scheduled VA appointments and was awarded a (shocking) rating of 70%, much to my surprise, in December of 2016. All disabilities are physical – no PTSD, mental, psychological, etc. disorders. After extensive research, I have not found any material stating that I am required to tell my Chain of Command about the situation – as I am still able to complete any and everything in the job description (including physical fitness – and would like to remain anonymous so as not to draw any conflict/attention. I am fully aware of how the concurrent pay works, and that I should waive the VA pay for drill days upon receiving the form at the turn of the new year.

    –My question then is twofold – Am I required to tell anyone in my chain of command/ medical (for a waiver) about my VA Rating, given that I am not hindered of completing my duties? If yes, could you please provide the appropriate legislature stating so?

    –Additionally, if I were to come down on orders for deployment (or AT greater than 30 days) and thereby Active Duty status, would I require a medical waiver? OR can I simply contact the VA and let them know, and that I wish to not receive any VA pay for that allotted time frame?

    Thank you very much again, and I eagerly await your response.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Brian, Thank you for your patience; I’ve been TDY.

      Are you required to tell anyone? Not that I am aware of. I do not have legislature or regs showing the affirmative or the negative. In other words, I haven’t read either that you are required to or not required to. However, I have spoken with a Veterans Service Organization representative who told me that your VA disability rating is a medical issue and is a confidential rating, and that you are not required to share it unless you it could cause a problem with your readiness or ability to do your assigned job.

      Active Duty Service: You should not need a medical waiver unless your medical condition hinders your ability to perform your job. But you have bigger issues at that point – not being able to perform your assigned duties could lead to a Medical Evaluation Board.

      You can notify the VA and have them stop your payments. However, I have spoken with a VA representative on this topic and he mentioned it is often better not to ask the VA to stop your payments because it can take some time to resume them (sometimes several months). Instead, he recommended simply letting the days accrue and then having that number of days of compensation withheld from future VA compensation payments. It does make you accrue a debt, but apparently that is easier to deal with then starting and stopping compensation.

      Regarding repaying compensation: You can have the VA withhold future payments, or you can write them a check to repay the balance. Either is acceptable. If the VA is withholding future payments, they may do so at a low rate, which causes the debt to be repaid very slowly. You can contact the VA to request them to withhold payments at a higher rate. For example, let’s say it would take an entire year to repay the accrued debt, and in the mean time, you are accruing future debts. You can request they increase the withholding to repay the debt in a few months vs the entire year. Just be aware of your personal financial situation so you have an understanding on how this will affect your payments.

      I hope this is helpful. I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

    • Matthew says

      FYI….I was in the same exact boat as you when I joined the Air Guard man. The processed changed. On the new yearly Physical Health Assesment questionnaire it asked if you have…had…or currently receiving benefits for disablitly through the VA. You can answer no….But they still run your SSN with a new system that links to the VA and will show your rating. I got out before they “Put” me out for it. I’m now trying to figure out if other reserve branches are doing this. So far I found out the Navy and Marines are doing the same thing. So now I’m looking at the Army Reserve/Guard.

  35. Martinez says

    I am chosing to waive my Disability pay for my drill pay. But I am due a Retention bonus in a few months of 15K am I allowed to recieve this or am I going to have 15k deducted from my VA pay?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Martinez, Thank you for contacting me. To be honest, I’m not 100% sure how this works. You may wish to visit your finance office, or, if you do not wish to share your VA disability rating with anyone, then you could contact the VA. Their customer service support reps should be able to answer this question. I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

  36. Kassy says

    In order to keep my disability pay while in the reserve, do I need to waive only the basic pay? can i receive mileage and lodging pay? I keep getting contradicting info from both the VA and DFAS.

    I’d like to continure in the reserve just for retirement points. However, I’ll have to reconsider if I’m not gonna be able to at least get paid for lodging and mileage pay as i live far from the base.

    I’d appreciate it if somone can help me figure this out.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Kassy, Thank you for contacting me. You only have to waive your military pay OR your VA disability compensation for the number of days you receive both. So let’s say you receive pay for 48 Drill periods and 15 days of service (12 months of Drills and your two week training period). That would equal 63 days of military pay.

      You would have to choose to waive your 63 days of military pay, or choose to waive 63 days of VA disability compensation.

      To determine which is less, add up your total military compensation and compare it to 63 days worth of VA disability compensation (divide your monthly rate by 30 to determine the daily rate, then multiply that number by 63).

      For most people, the military pay is more than the disability compensation, so they choose to waive the VA compensation.

      You will receive a form from the VA each year. If you choose to waive your VA disability compensation, then the VA will withhold 63 days worth of VA disability compensation from you during the next year. The payments will resume once you have repaid the debt.

      Waiving your VA disability compensation does not have any effect on your mileage, lodging, per diem, or any other military pay. I’m not sure the impact of waiving your military pay, because very few people do it.

      Do the math, and make sure you understand what you are waiving.

      Chances are good that you can continue receiving your military pay and compensation, including the mileage, lodging, etc. I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

  37. Jeremy says

    So how do I suspend my guard pay in favor of VA compensation? Do I use the same form? I just got off active and am in the guard as an O3. Just got my rating of 90% which is about $2100 / month tax free = $25k per year. Using the guard calculator I would make about $12.5k per year. Definitely want to waive my guard pay.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Jeremy,

      Thank you for contacting me.

      You only have to waive your pay for the days you receive both VA disability compensation and military compensation on the same day.

      So let’s walk through the math. I’m not sure how many years of service you have, but I’ll use O-3 at 4 years, to keep things simple.

      The VA disability compensation is $2100 per month, which comes out to $70 per day.

      An O-3 at 4 years earns roughly $720 per four day drill, or about $180 per day.

      If you have 63 days of military compensation (48 drills + 15 training days), you will earn approximately $11,340.

      You would only have to waive 63 days worth of disability compensation, which is $4,410.

      So receiving your military pay and waiving the VA disability compensation is greatly in your favor (roughly $7,000 with these numbers, much more using your numbers).

      You don’t have to waive the entire year of pay – only the days in which you receive pay for both. So if you do additional training, you may have to waive more days of VA disability compensation. But you are earning $110 more per day with your military pay, so it comes out well in your favor that way.

      I hope this is helpful. I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

      • Brian Andrews says

        When your unit has sign in you do not sign your name. When sign your name is when the VA is going to stop your pay because signing your name means your fit for duty. As a matter fact all fellow Veterans on this site need to stop believing a blogger like this that has not served a day in the military. I am a veteran myself with 14 years of active duty in the Army

      • Ryan Guina says


        Please back up your statements with facts, not hearsay.

        “As a matter fact all fellow Veterans on this site need to stop believing a blogger like this that has not served a day in the military. I am a veteran myself with 14 years of active duty in the Army”

        Your statement is not helpful and is misleading on several points.

        First, I have 10 plus years military service – six on active duty and four in the Air National Guard.

        Second, this article is based on personal experience and the policies I have found through the VA website, DFAS website, and US code. You can read more about the references to US Code in this article.

        Third, your military service does nothing to make you an expert on this topic. If you disagree with the contents of this article, please cite the section you disagree with and back it up with facts and references, not a simple statement that the entire article is wrong. That is not helpful and sows the seeds of misinformation.

  38. Simmone Bissett says

    Thank you for this information. This is very helpful. I joined the Army Reserves in May 2016; filed for VA disability in 2015 but did not start received payments until Sept 2016–after I started the Reserves. I just received the form 21-8951 and trying to determine whether or not to waive VA disability or military pay. I receive a critical skills bonus every year that I am in the Reserves–if I waive military pay, will I still receive my bonus?

  39. Mia says

    You have a CHOICE on which pay you want to waive. I make more when I’m on orders so I always waive my VA pay.

    Also, the 8951 form should have an address stamped on the bottom front page, unless you got the form online. If they didn’t mail you the form you should call 800-827-1000 and ask them where you need to mail the form to.

    Hope this answers both questions.

  40. Rebecca R says

    If I have to pay back 57 drill days would that mean I have to pay back roughly 2 months VA Disability pay? What if I am 70% disabled and make more with VA instead of Reserves? If I choose to waive my Reserve pay how is that money paid back? And finally if I have to pay back movies to the VA will they take it out at one shot or will it be over a time period?

    • gavianh says

      that is the same boat that I am in currently I am at 60% and my disability is 3 times more than my drill pay. So to a normal person one would say why wave your VA and except drill pay. But if I got this correct, I can wave drill pay for the FY training days which is 2 months and receive VA benefits for the other 10 months. I sure hope I got this right or else I will be back in the never ending circle.


  41. Melissa says


    What publication are you using for reference to the 1/30 rule? I have scrubbed the VA website and I can’t find it anywhere. I found the information on the VA Form 21-8951-2 however, there is no information on how they calculate the holdings from the training days.

    Thanks for you help. Great article.

  42. GolfBravo says

    Very informative.

    A nice piece of info would be some guideline on how & where to submit the form…

    I have the form complete and signed by my Reserve Unit CC, but zero info is available ANYWHERE regarding form submission.

    The kind folks at the VA here and over the phone have no clue.

  43. Edwin says


    Doing drills and not receiving your compensation from the VA it’s working for free for the government. I don’t get it there has to be a way to get out without having to work for free while drilling. Even in the reserves if you get medboard, you will have to wait at least 2 years to get medboard.

    • Mario says

      That is true, it really doesn’t make sense. But if it’s the law then that’s what happens. The law was probably not written by people who served in the military or who care about service members. But it doesn’t make it less of a law.
      One thing that might work is if everyone affected by this would write a letter to their Congressional Representatives and try to get the law changed.

  44. Raul Cruz says

    Hi, after ending my active duty on May 2014 contract I joined the reserve on May 2014. On March 2016 I filed for a disability claim which I only got 10% for that claim and in Sep 2016 i had to file another one for my ptsd which I got 50% for that. So today Nov 16, 2016 I got awarded 60% total. I am still on the reserve and my ETS DATE is August 27, 2017. So how does the pay works for me? I’m a E-4 with six years in. Would I still have to pick one or the other, and have to pay back the difference?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Raul, Thank you for contacting me. The pay works as described in the article. The only difference I can think of in your situation is if your disability compensation was backdated. If that is the case, your form 21-8951 will still account for those days. You will need to decide which pay to waive and fill out your form. If you elect to waive your VA disability compensation, then the VA will withhold that from future payments until they recoup they amount you waived the previous fiscal year. I believe the VA also offers the opportunity to send them a check, but not everyone has that cash available, so the VA will withhold from future payments.

  45. Frank Lugo says

    I am not sure who or what calculates this debt? According to the VA they assume I completed 52 Training days from 10/2014 to 11/2015. However, I ETS on 5/23/15 and never went to Annual Training.

    Now the VA has put a debt on me of $3,700, when I had already submitted the VA Form 21-8951 earlier in 2015. There is no training for soldiers on this issue and flank them with a debt on a process that exists.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Frank, Thank you for your comment. So far as I am aware, the VA compares their database to the DFAS database, or the information provided to them by the services. Errors can occur, so it’s a good idea to follow up with the VA to get this corrected. Be sure to provide any records you may have to support your claim. I hope this points you in the right direction and that you are able to get this resolved.

  46. musclecars22 says

    Thanks Ryan,

    I contacted the VA and they were very helpful. For the record, I am only doing this to help out the unit I am attached to, they needed me to come in and help out. I am still very capable of being a SME (subject matter expert) when called upon for information and training needs, although my physical performance is not quite at the level it once was.

  47. musclecars22 says

    Hello Ryan,

    I just got off active duty and was unsure if I was going to get into the reserves, so I submitted a VA claim. I have been in the reserves for two months now and just received my 90% disability rating from the VA. I recently agreed to be put onto active duty orders with the reserve unit. I understand that I will have to file the Form 21-8951 to rectify my VA disability pay for the time I am on orders for the reserves, but will I lose my VA disability rating because I am on active duty orders?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello musclecars22, So far as I am aware, you will not lose your rating just for joining the military. However, the VA can contact you for a reexamination and reevaluation of your rating. They do this periodically with many veterans who have disability ratings, so don’t take it personally. It is possible to have your disability rating changed as the result of a reevaluation, so be sure to attend the scheduled appointments and maintain copies of all your medical records. Here is more info on a reduction in a VA disability rating.

      As for the 21-8951 – yes you will need to file that the year after you receive both disability compensation and military compensation. However, since you are going on active duty for an extended period of time, you may be much better off contacting the VA to let them know of your situation and request that they stop your disability compensation payments for the duration of your orders. You can contact the VA after your orders end to resume your disability compensation payments. (Call the VA help line to verify this process and ask how you should do it – it’s possible you may need to complete and submit a form).

      I hope this points you in the right direction. Best of luck, and thank you for your service!

  48. Richard says

    I am a single father to my 7 year old daughter, and received my letter of Notice of Waiver of VA Compensation for 76 Drill days, and I am also newly self-employed. When this takes affect of having my compensation “retroactively adjusted”, I will not be able to pay all my monthly bills until it gets off-set again next year. Does anyone know if there’s any programs or financial help through the VA for a situation like this? I do not believe in this law for myself getting injured in Iraq and still serving under contract but yet cannot be compensated for both, as if I had planned on getting a spine injury?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Richard, Thank you for contacting me. This is a federal law, and I am not aware of any way around it. The best recommendation I have is to contact the VA and ask them if there is a hardship waiver or if there is anything else that can be done.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hi Jacob, it depends if you receive pay for it or not. Many Honor Guard duties will earn you Points for retirement, but they are unpaid. You only need to report paid days on your VA Form 21-8951. You do not need to report Points that did not result in pay. Some correspondence courses also earn Points, but not pay. So you wouldn’t need to report those Points earned via coursework.

  49. Pamela says

    Have you considered the deduction of Social Security, Medicare and federal taxes from the drill pay?

    I’m trying to determine if 70% VA compensation is better than E-5 at 6 years in Marine reserves.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Pamela, Thank you for contacting me. In most cases, the VA disability compensation is much less than the military pay, so the taxes on Drill Pay aren’t a big consideration. It’s only when one has a very high disability rating, and a low to mid-level pay grade that you need to consider waiving your military pay.

      In your example, we have a veteran with a 70% disability rating, which results in disability compensation of $1,334.71 per month (single rate; this would change with dependents). The base pay is $2,797.78, or over twice the amount of the disability compensation. One would need to have multiple dependents and/or be in a very high tax bracket for the taxes to make that much of an impact to make the disability pay come out ahead.

      Also, if you choose to waive your military pay, be aware that the military will not withhold future payments – I believe you would be required to write them a check for the amount of Drill Pay you received in the previous year. With disability compensation, the VA will withhold that amount from future payments.

      Without further information regrading number of dependents, tax brackets, and other information, it seems like it would be better to waive the disability compensation.

      • Brian Andrews says

        What. Really have you ever served a day in on actually active duty. The regular drill pay is actually lower than What you make from the VA compensation. 1st of all drill pay is based on how many days of the month you are at drill and you are taxed by federal and maybe state IRS depending on where you drill plus Life Insurance is comes out of your check. As for VA compensation it is based on percentage starting at 10% if you have dependants or not and it has never been taxable. All fellow Veterans the real information about the VA is at http://www.va.gov and the payment for drill pay is http://www.dfas.mil. We all have bills to pay and to put food on the table right. So that is something to think about.

      • Ryan Guina says

        Brian, I served over six years on active duty. I am now a member of the Air National Guard. I have a service-connected disability rating and have first hand experience with the payment process for drilling members of the Guard or Reserves who also have a service-connected disability rating.

        The law states you cannot receive payment from both sources for the same day of service. This does not apply to the entire month. One only needs to waive pay for the number of days in which they receive both forms of payment. Most members of the Guard / Reserves are in civilian status during the month, except when they are in drilling status or when they are on orders. They only need to waive their pay for the time they are in uniform and are receiving military compensation.

        When you serve a drill weekend, you receive payment for 4 days of service. You do not need to waive all VA disability compensation for the entire month; only the same 4 days for which you received disability compensation.

        In most cases, VA disability is less on a pro-rated basis than military base pay on a pro-rated basis. The only exceptions are for members with a very high disability rating (and possibly multiple dependents), and generally a lower pay grade. The easiest way to compare is to look at both the VA service-connected disability rating and the full military base pay (not the drill pay).

        This is fully explained in the article, under the heading, “How to Decide Which Pay to Waive.” Please carefully read this section. If it is not clear, please indicate which section is not clear and I will try to rewrite it or better explain it.

        If you disagree with it, please leave a correction including the section of the law that clarifies the section you disagree with. As a note, you can find the references to the US Code in this article, which further explains serving with a VA disability rating.

    • Brian Andrews says

      The 70% percentage from the VA is way better than 6 year drill from the reserves. Pamela I my myself have served 14 years in the Army but on active duty and still serving in the Reserves. So I know what you are going through slot more than the person who writes about but has no clue. You would get tax free vehicle registration. The VA compensation is only a monthly payment but it is tax free. Social Security is good but it is taxed. Reserve after they take out taxes and life insurance would leave you with maybe close $500 a monthly. While on just drill it is based on how many days of the month you are drill, cause you do not receive BAH or BAS unless you go AGR and that is for all branches across the board. I am not on here to stir up anything but I know what means to serve and I have been in your shoes.

      • Ryan Guina says

        Brian, Please do not state the writer has no clue.

        This article is based on US Code, and VA and DFAS policies. References are included. If you disagree with certain sections of this article, please point them out and back them up with references and facts. Simply stating the writer has no clue is not helpful and undermines this website.

        This website is hear to clear up misconceptions and disinformation, not muddy the waters. Undermining the writer of this article does the opposite. When possible, this site includes official references and links to resources. Please have the courtesy to do the same.

        Additionally, tax free vehicle registration varies by state. Please do not make blanket statements that may not apply to everyone. This causes misinformation and confusion.

      • Danny D Nichols II says

        I’m with Ryan on this one. I served 6 years active Marines and currently in the reserves as an E5 for a total of 8 years. I receive 60% and it’s still better to waive the compensation for the 2-3 days a month. I get $480 for my drill weekend. I get like $1330 dollars a month normally, but with drill deduction I receive $1197. So, $1197 + $480= $1677. Thats more than I would get if I waived the drill pay.

  50. Tiffany says

    Hello my name is Tiffany, I served 4 years in the Navy with 2 deployments under my belt. I have been out for almost 4 years now. I recieve my bachelors this year & would like to go back in as an officer active duty, but I have a 20% service connected disability. One for ringing in the ears & one for inflammation in my wrist. Can or can I Not serve active duty again? My recruiter doesn’t seem to know.

  51. Jeremy says

    When I fill out the form, who do I send it to? I did not receive it in the mail so I filled it out. I just don’t know who to send it to when im done.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Jeremy, Thank you for contacting me. If you receive the form via the mail, there will be a Regional VA Office mailing address on your form. Since that doesn’t apply to you, I would call the 1-800 number listed on the form. The VA has the following statement: If you have any questions about the information contained on this form or if you need assistance in completing the form, please call VA’s toll-free number 1-800-827-1000

  52. Govinda Basnet says

    Hello, your article is very helpful to me. I am getting 20% VA disability and also serving as reservist. I have not gotten any VA waiver form yet. I have joined the reserve from last august. I have server only 48 days of drill training. I was not able to do 15 days active duty training because of my college. I am not not sure which pay need to waive. I am E4. Do VA send the waiver form every year?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Govinda, Thank you for contacting me. Yes, the VA should send the form each year. I recommend contacting the VA and asking them what you should do to complete this form. You can ask them to help you fill out the form if necessary.

  53. Mike Sansom says

    I am requesting information on my friend who is 100% disabled with PTSD.
    He received notice of Form VA 21-8951…….He did receive both Guard Pay and VA disability pay for 2012, 2013, 2015. They are adjusting his pay this year over a 3 month period. He NOT disputing this.
    He is receiving approximately $3600/month in VA disability payments.
    His “take home” pay for July, August, & October will only be approximately $140/month.
    He can NOT live on that amount.

    Is there any way to spread this out over a longer period of time?
    What form is needed?
    Who do we need to contact?

    Thanks In Advance for your help!


    • Hadassah says

      I am in the same boat too. They just reduced my monthly pay to $4. Seriously. I’m trying to find out who to talk to but haven’t succeeded yet. Please let me know if you guys found anything out. Thanks and God bless.

      • Renee says

        I just called and had the option of paying in lump sum, taking the 62 day or spreading it out over the year.

  54. Curtis Norman says

    I love your website, very informative. I ran the calculator for a E9 at 26 years and a Selective Reservist still drilling. Are we using our military pay to example $218 per UTA x number of days drilled or on AT 63 = example $13,734. Now if that same person receives 50% = $950 per month or $32 per day VA they would take 63 days x $32 per day = $2016 they would owe back to the VA?

    Thank you for your time and leadership.

  55. Marvin L. Nichols says

    I just finished reading this article and I almost fit this situation. I am retired U.S. Navy and while I was in I got asbestos. I filed a disability with the VA and was approved at 30%. Then the Navy deducted this same amount from my retired pay. I later submitted to the Navy for a Combat Related Special Compensation (CRSC) benefit. It was disapproved. I was in during the Vietnam Conflict and operated in the Pacific on the old wooden Minesweepers. This is where I received this asbestos. The Government did not live up to its responsibilities to this retired veteran.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Marvin, Thank you for sharing your story. I’m sorry to hear about your service connected disability and the situation with your pay. You may find it beneficial to have a benefits analysis done with a Veterans Service Organization. Many of them have service officers who are trained in submitting benefits claims. They will be able to go over your situation and let you know if there are any other benefits you may be eligible to receive. (They do not charge for this). Some recommended organizations include the DAV, VVA, VFW, American Legion, etc.

      • James A Aquino says

        So, how do I opt to receive VA compensation instead of military pay? What option or paperwork should I fill out?

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