Medical vs. Regular Retirement & the Presumption of Fitness rules

vet retire

It is important for members of the military to know that they cannot receive a medical retirement if they qualify for a regular 20-year active federal service (AFS) retirement. Why is this important? Because a veteran can receive up to 75% of their base pay for a medical retirement instead of receiving 50% of their base pay for 20-year AFS retirement. This difference in retirement pay could be thousands of dollars per month.

Details: The Physical Evaluation Board (PEB) will use the presumption of fitness rules when adjudicating a veteran’s case if they will qualify for a regular retirement. The Disability Evaluation System (DES) compensates disabilities when they contribute to career termination and the resulting career loss. The PEB will conclude the veteran as fit by presumption if their narrative summary (NARSUM) is dated within the presumption period which begins one year prior to your mandatory removal date (MRD). Veterans are considered pending retirement when the NARSUM is completed within 12 months of their MRD and will be eligible for AFS retirement at their MRD.

Example: If your MRD is 31 July 2015, and your NARSUM occurred within 12 months of MRD, you are fit by presumption. Helpful hint, if a veteran desires a medical retirement vice a regular retirement, one should begin the MEB process no later than 18 months prior to their MRD.

In order to overcome the presumption of fitness, one of the following must be established in an appeal: Within the presumptive period, an acute, grave illness or injury occurred preventing you from performing further duty. Within the presumptive period, a serious deterioration of a previously diagnosed condition, to include a chronic condition, occurs and the deterioration would preclude further duty.

The presumption of fitness rules are not widely known. The presumption of fitness rules can be found in DoDI 1332.18.

What is a Caregiver?


One of the biggest obstacles in caregiving is recognizing that you are caregiving. Many family members think that what they are doing for their spouse, child, other relative or friend is nothing more than what family does for each other when there is a need. And that is true.

Running errands, picking up medications, driving to the doctor, arranging home care, helping to get dressed…regardless of the task, it is all caregiving. If you are helping someone with some of their activities of daily living, you are a Caregiver.

If you are caring for a Veteran, you might be eligible to participate in the Family Caregivers Program. A Primary Family Caregiver stipend is monetary compensation paid to a Primary Family Caregiver for providing personal care services to an eligible Veteran enrolled in the Caregiver Program. The stipend is not intended to replace career earnings, and receipt of the stipend payments does not create an employment relationship between VA and the Primary Family Caregiver.*

See VA fact sheet 11-04 for more details

Also see the VA Caregiver Support site at