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Top 5 Job Hunting Tips for Veterans

Top 5 Job Hunting Tips for Veterans

Job hunting can be frustrating for everyone, but even more so for a Veteran just transitioning out of the military. You’ve got to completely change your resume, the way you speak, and the way you interact with others. It can be a very challenging and stressful experience for someone who needs to find a job quickly to survive after leaving the military.

You can find career advice all over the internet on different ways to make yourself stand out, but look no further; we have your Top 5 Job Hunting Tips for Veterans right here.

Tip #1: Polish Your Resume

The first thing you’re going to want to do is to get your resume civilian-ready. Ensure it’s up-to-date and includes all the relevant details from your military career, but you’ll need to put this in terms that civilian employers will understand. Many of the skills you developed during your service apply to civilian jobs, but you’ll have to help your potential employers understand this through your resume.

If you find yourself at a loss for skills to include, check out our guide “5 Skills You Didn’t Realize the Military Gave You” for some advice.

Tip #2: Practice, Practice, Practice

If you’ve been in the military for a while, likely, you haven’t had a job interview in quite some time, and the interview process can be nerve-wracking for even the bravest soldier. That’s why it will be vital for you to practice your interview skills, even before you land that first interview. There are hundreds of practice questions on the internet and even more videos on YouTube that you can watch to help you prepare.

However, you choose to get ready and tailor your answers in a way that your civilian interviewer can understand. Like in the military, practice makes perfect and will help better prepare you when the time finally comes to sit down for an interview.

Tip #3: Network

Don’t underestimate the power of networking.

Sometimes in the civilian world, it’s not about what you know; it’s about who you know. Even before you transition from the military, reach out to friends and family to let them know that you’re going to be looking for a job soon. Like LinkedIn, you can also use social platforms to connect with people who might know of an employer explicitly looking to hire Veterans or someone with your experience. The more people you have in your network who are helping you look for a job, the wider of a net you can cast. Your network can also attest to your skills and your character to help you stand out even more.

Tip #4: Keep Your Options Open

When you start your job search, you might have a particular career field in mind, but keep your options open to new opportunities.

Veterans sometimes get pigeon-holed into careers like security or government, but if that isn’t what you want to do, don’t do it just because you think it will be easier to find a job. Keep your options open. There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of different career opportunities for Veterans, so don’t settle for one just because it’s the first job to come along. If you are in a good place financially and don’t need a job on day one of getting out, then take your time, do some research, and wait for that right job to come to you. You never know what kind of opportunities might present themselves if you are patient.

Tip #5: Don’t Give Up

Job searching can be a time-consuming process. It could take weeks or even months before you get your first interview. Don’t let this frustrate you and make you stop your search or settle for a career that you don’t really want. Keep working on your resume and reaching out to your network. Eventually the right job will come your way. The military taught you perseverance, so use that and don’t give up.

Remember – start the job search early and be prepared to wait. In the meantime, if you need some more career tips or advice, you can always reach out to us.

Contact Us

Have a question about your Veteran benefits? You can email us today! If you are within one-year pre to post-military separation, you can enroll in our FREE program by setting up a call with one of our transition coaches.

First Time Home Buying for Veterans

First Time Home Buying for Veterans

Buying your first home can include a mixture of both excitement and nervousness. You’re excited to have your place finally but nervous about all the steps and red tape that can come with the process. But, it doesn’t have to be that nerve-wracking, especially if you are a Veteran!

The VA has laid the process out in straightforward, easy-to-follow steps.

Step 1: Get a VA-backed Purchase Loan

You’ll have to go through a government-approved lender, like a bank or mortgage company, to get this loan. The VA will guarantee part of the loan against loss, which allows your lender to give you better loan terms, like the option to pay no down payment or better interest rates.

You can use your VA-backed Purchase Loan to:

  • Buy a single-family home, or multi-family up to 4 units
  • Buy a condo in a VA-approved project
  • Buy a home and make cosmetic improvements
  • Buy a manufactured home
  • Build a new home
  • Refinance an existing home

Step 2: Find an agent and start shopping

Once you have a lender, it’s time to find a real estate agent and start shopping for your dream home. You’ll want to meet with a few different agents and find the right one for you. You can also ask your family and friends for recommendations so you know you and your agent are a good fit.

Once you’ve found an agent, it’s time to start shopping! You should know what your price range is and share that information with your agent so you can ensure the homes they are showing you aren’t out of your budget. You’ll also want to share the most important factors, like school zones, commute, features, etc.

Step 3: Making an offer

When you find the home you want to buy, you’ll start working with your real estate agent to put together a purchase agreement. Be sure the sales contract includes a “VA escape clause” or “VA option clause,” which gives you an option to void the contract if the property doesn’t appraise for the contract price.

Depending on the type of market, a “VA escape clause” may hurt your offer compared to the competition. If you are in a hot seller’s market, you may want to consider adding an appraisal clause with your offer. If the property doesn’t appraise, you agree to offer a specific amount above appraised value towards the purchase price.

Step 4: Get an inspection and appraisal

You should get an inspection to ensure that the home doesn’t have any significant damage or defects. Once your property passes inspection, your VA-approved lender will order the home’s appraisal to ensure it meets basic property condition requirements. They will also provide an opinion of value on the house, which the bank will use to determine how much they will fund your purchase.

So what do you do if the property doesn’t appraise at a value that’s high enough to get the loan? You can:

  • Request a Reconsideration of Value (ROV). To do this, you will ask your real estate agent to provide the lender with valid sales data showing the property is worth more than its appraised price. The lender will ask the appraiser to reconsider based on this information.
  • Renegotiate the sales price. Ask the seller to lower the cost to match the appraised value or somewhere in between.
  • Pay the difference between the appraised price and the sales price. To do this, you’ll need to pay this cost at closing.

Step 5: Close on your home and move in!

Assuming everything goes as planned and your offer is accepted, then it’s time to close on your first home! Your lender and your real estate agent will walk you through the closing process, but go into it prepared to sign many documents.

Once you’ve finished signing off on everything, the home is yours, and it’s time to start moving in!

The process of becoming a first-time home buyer can seem a little daunting at first, but if you follow these steps then you’re well on your way to owning your first home. The VA also has tons of resources to help you through the process.

Contact Us

Have a question about your Veteran benefits? You can email us today! If you are within one-year pre to post-military separation, you can enroll in our FREE program by setting up a call with one of our transition coaches.

What are the benefits of a VA home loan?

What are the benefits of a VA Home Loan?

VA Home Loans are a Veteran benefit that every Veteran should know about and how to use. You can easily qualify for a VA Home Loan by getting a Certificate of Eligibility from the VA.gov website and finding a VA-approved lender. In most cases, your lender will even help you acquire your Certificate of Eligibility at the same time you get pre-approved for a loan.

But, you might be wondering, “What are the benefits of a VA Home Loan?”

Well, there are quite a few benefits to this type of loan.

Benefits of VA Home Loans

The number 1 benefit to VA Home Loans, which makes them most appealing, is having a 0% down payment. With no down payment, this means that if you choose to use a VA Home Loan to purchase your new residence, you will not be required to put any money down on the home upfront. The VA Home Loan is an excellent benefit for planning a military to civilian transition and doesn’t have the funds saved up to put a sizeable down payment for a house.

Traditionally when buying a home, the bank requires that you pay 20% of the purchase price as a downpayment. If you cannot do that, they will charge you an extra monthly fee called Private Mortgage Insurance, which ensures a large percentage of the bank’s money if you default on your loan. These additional payments can make an affordable mortgage payment very costly and often do not make sense for the purchaser.

So in most cases, using a VA Loan saves you from paying additional fees on top of your monthly mortgage payment!

Another benefit of the VA Home Loan is your ability to negotiate closing costs and include some of them into the total sum of the loan. While this benefit saves you money upfront, it does mean that your mortgage payments will increase slightly. Ensure that you verify with your lender what that new payment will be and that it makes sense for your budget.

Associated Costs

One of the closing costs to be aware of is the VA Funding Fee, a one-time fee the VA charges you to insure the lender 25% of the loan amount if you default. Having a VA disability rating of 10% or more means you can waive this fee entirely. For help with disability benefits and more, take our VA Benefits Survey and connect with our team.

Most Veterans who use VA Home Loans also typically see lower interest rates than standard home loans, which means that you will pay less interest over the life of your loan.

Other Benefits

VA Home Loans also offer foreclosure avoidance so if you aren’t able to make the payments on your loan, you will be able to work with your lender to work out a payment plan so that you can avoid having to foreclose on your home.

Another incredible benefit is the Veteran’s ability to buy a multi-family home of 2-4 units, allowing you to live in one unit. In contrast, the other units pay off your mortgage. The savvy Veteran can leverage this benefit to supplement a military retirement. For more information on how you can do this, listen to our discussion on leveraging your VA Loan.

Limitations

Despite all of these great benefits, there are a few limitations to the VA Home Loan you should be aware of.

Before you apply for the loan, starters must plan to occupy the residence, which means you must intend to live in the house you are purchasing.

While the requirements for the loan are somewhat flexible, the lender you must qualify through might be a little more stringent. You might have to meet financial conditions, which could include two years of financial proof, credit score requirements, debt to income ratio, and more.

And it would help if you kept in mind that you are only eligible for a 0% down payment on the total amount approved for your purchase. For example, if you are looking in an area with high housing costs, your approved amount might not cover the full cost of the home. In this instance, you would pay 25% of the difference in a down payment.

You may use the VA Loan benefit more than once. However, you are limited to having two active VA Loans out at the same time. Before you use it for a third property, you must either sell the property or refinance the loan on one of the previous two.

Despite these few limitations, the VA Home Loan is the number one benefit for any Veteran looking to purchase a new home.

Contact Us

Have a question about your Veteran benefits? You can email us today! If you are within one-year pre to post-military separation, you can enroll in our FREE program by setting up a call with one of our transition coaches.

Easy Guide to the Military Retirement System

Easy Guide to the Military Retirement System

The military retirement system is complicated. With multiple pay systems and complex calculations used within each one of them, figuring out where you stand in terms of retirement can be challenging. Today we’ll break down how pensions are set in simple terms.

First, look at your Join Date. That largely controls which system you will use for retirement.

MILITARY JOIN DATES AND MATCHING RETIREMENT SYSTEMS

JOIN DATE RETIREMENT SYSTEM

Before Sep. 8, 1980

Final Pay System

Sep. 9, 1980 – Jul. 31, 1986

High 36 Retirement System 

Aug. 1, 1986 – Dec. 31, 2017

High 36 System or REDUX System

After Jan. 1, 2018

Blended Retirement System (BRS)

When the Blended Retirement System (BRS) went into effect in 2018, active service members with twelve or fewer years of service on December 31, 2017 were given the option to stay in their legacy retirement system or migrate to BRS. These decisions were generally required to be made by military members between 2017-2018. 

FINAL PAY SYSTEM

This is the oldest, least flexible retirement system for service members. The breakdown for pensions is based upon two figures: 

  • Monthly base pay at the time of retirement
  • Number of years in service

These figures are then multiplied by 2.5% to determine a Veteran’s pension.

As with other retirement systems, the longer you stay in service, the greater your pension. 

  • If a Veteran retired with 20 years of service, then they are eligible for 50% of their base pay at the time of retirement. 
  • If a Veteran retired with 40 plus years of service, then they are eligible for 100% of their base pay at the time of retirement. 

The military provides a free calculator for the Final Pay System.

HIGH 36 RETIREMENT SYSTEM

This system is very similar to the Final Pay System. They differ in how the base monthly pay is set. Instead of using the base pay at the end of your service, calculations are based upon the average of the highest 36 months of pay during your YOS. Pension is then determined multiplying 2.5% by base pay and YOS.

The military provides an online calculator for this system.

REDUX SYSTEM

Slightly more complicated than Final Pay and High 36, REDUX created clear incentives for lengthier military careers. Payments also differ based upon the age of the recipient.

Prior to age 62:

  • Base % is 2.5% times the number of your years of service minus 1.0% for each year of service less than that of 30 years.
  • Base pay is average of your highest 36 months of basic pay.

At age 62 and after: 

  • Same as the High 36 System. 
  • 2.5% times the number of your years of service times the average of your highest 36 months of your basic pay.

The military provides an online calculator for the REDUX system.

Prior to December 31, 2017, members with 15+ YOS were eligible to choose a one time, Career Status Bonus (CSB) of $30,000. This is no longer an option. 

BLENDED RETIREMENT SYSTEM (BRS)

The Blended Retirement System provides several alternatives for payments, taking into account the duration of service and potential financial needs for Veterans. It provides traditional military benefits, but also ones similar to that of a 401k. Understanding the different forms of payment is key to planning a career in the military and eventual retirement.

The BRS can be broken down into:

  • Defined Benefit
  • Defined Contribution
  • Continuation Pay
  • Lump Sum

DEFINED BENEFIT

This is the simplest of options within the BRS:

  • Applies to individuals with 20+ years of service (YOS)
  • Benefit multiplier of 2%
  • The longer you serve, the higher your benefit
  • Provides full cost of living adjustment (COLA)
  • You may choose traditional monthly payments or a LUMP SUM 

DEFINED CONTRIBUTION

This is the most complex of all the categories with the BRS. It involves contributions to the federal Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), an investment plan similar to a 401k. Here are the basics:

  • A TSP account will be set up for you generally within 60 days of starting service.
  • The military automatically contributes a matching 1% contribution to your TSP account.
  • If you choose to increase your contributions to your TSP account, the military will match up to 4% on those you make.
  • Contributions can be made via your service’s online pay portal.
  • The TSP is a portable retirement account, meaning that upon ending service, it can be transferred to an IRA or a 401k account from a civilian employer.

For more information about the TSP, visit its website.

CONTINUATION PAY

Active service members may select to receive  a one-time, mid career bonus payment called Continuation Pay.

  • You are eligible for it when you complete between eight, but no greater than twelve years of service (YOS). 
  • Continuation Pay is 2.5 to 13 times your regular pay.
  • How the rate of pay is set is service specific.

Also, note that:

  • Opting for Continuation Pay incurs an additional service obligation of three years or greater, depending on your Service. 
  • Continuation Pay is taxable income. It may change your tax bracket.

LUMP SUM

You may opt to receive 25-50% of your total retired pay up front.

There are currently two options:

  • One lump sum
  • Four equal payments distributed over four years

If you choose either of the lump sum payments, your monthly retirement pay will then be reduced by either 75-50% until you reach full Social Security age.

If you choose to receive any of the lump sum options, you must officially file for it at least 90 days prior to the end of your service.  

For Veterans in need of a larger amount of cash, this may be a good option. However, it may also raise your tax bracket, as it is taxable income.

The military provides an online calculator to help determine possible payments under the BRS.

For more information, visit: https://militarypay.defense.gov/BlendedRetirement/

WHAT’S NEXT?

Pension payments are only one component to post-service life.

SAVI is here every step of the way to help you transition from service-member to thriving Veteran retiree. Our retirement track can provide additional resources and coaching for that purpose. 

https://savivets.org

The military retirement system is complicated. With multiple pay systems and complex calculations used within each one of them, figuring out where you stand in terms of retirement can be challenging. Today we’ll break down how pensions are set in simple terms.

First, look at your Join Date. That largely controls which system you will use for retirement.

MILITARY JOIN DATES AND MATCHING RETIREMENT SYSTEMS

JOIN DATE RETIREMENT SYSTEM

Before Sep. 8, 1980

Final Pay System

Sep. 9, 1980 – Jul. 31, 1986

High 36 Retirement System 

Aug. 1, 1986 – Dec. 31, 2017

High 36 System or REDUX System

After Jan. 1, 2018

Blended Retirement System (BRS)

When the Blended Retirement System (BRS) went into effect in 2018, active service members with twelve or fewer years of service on December 31, 2017 were given the option to stay in their legacy retirement system or migrate to BRS. These decisions were generally required to be made by military members between 2017-2018. 

FINAL PAY SYSTEM

This is the oldest, least flexible retirement system for service members. The breakdown for pensions is based upon two figures: 

  • Monthly base pay at the time of retirement
  • Number of years in service

These figures are then multiplied by 2.5% to determine a Veteran’s pension.

As with other retirement systems, the longer you stay in service, the greater your pension. 

  • If a Veteran retired with 20 years of service, then they are eligible for 50% of their base pay at the time of retirement. 
  • If a Veteran retired with 40 plus years of service, then they are eligible for 100% of their base pay at the time of retirement. 

The military provides a free calculator for the Final Pay System.

HIGH 36 RETIREMENT SYSTEM

This system is very similar to the Final Pay System. They differ in how the base monthly pay is set. Instead of using the base pay at the end of your service, calculations are based upon the average of the highest 36 months of pay during your YOS. Pension is then determined multiplying 2.5% by base pay and YOS.

The military provides an online calculator for this system.

REDUX SYSTEM

Slightly more complicated than Final Pay and High 36, REDUX created clear incentives for lengthier military careers. Payments also differ based upon the age of the recipient.

Prior to age 62:

  • Base % is 2.5% times the number of your years of service minus 1.0% for each year of service less than that of 30 years.
  • Base pay is average of your highest 36 months of basic pay.

At age 62 and after: 

  • Same as the High 36 System. 
  • 2.5% times the number of your years of service times the average of your highest 36 months of your basic pay.

The military provides an online calculator for the REDUX system.

Prior to December 31, 2017, members with 15+ YOS were eligible to choose a one time, Career Status Bonus (CSB) of $30,000. This is no longer an option. 

BLENDED RETIREMENT SYSTEM (BRS)

The Blended Retirement System provides several alternatives for payments, taking into account the duration of service and potential financial needs for Veterans. It provides traditional military benefits, but also ones similar to that of a 401k. Understanding the different forms of payment is key to planning a career in the military and eventual retirement.

The BRS can be broken down into:

  • Defined Benefit
  • Defined Contribution
  • Continuation Pay
  • Lump Sum

DEFINED BENEFIT

This is the simplest of options within the BRS:

  • Applies to individuals with 20+ years of service (YOS)
  • Benefit multiplier of 2%
  • The longer you serve, the higher your benefit
  • Provides full cost of living adjustment (COLA)
  • You may choose traditional monthly payments or a LUMP SUM 

DEFINED CONTRIBUTION

This is the most complex of all the categories with the BRS. It involves contributions to the federal Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), an investment plan similar to a 401k. Here are the basics:

  • A TSP account will be set up for you generally within 60 days of starting service.
  • The military automatically contributes a matching 1% contribution to your TSP account.
  • If you choose to increase your contributions to your TSP account, the military will match up to 4% on those you make.
  • Contributions can be made via your service’s online pay portal.
  • The TSP is a portable retirement account, meaning that upon ending service, it can be transferred to an IRA or a 401k account from a civilian employer.

For more information about the TSP, visit its website.

CONTINUATION PAY

Active service members may select to receive  a one-time, mid career bonus payment called Continuation Pay.

  • You are eligible for it when you complete between eight, but no greater than twelve years of service (YOS). 
  • Continuation Pay is 2.5 to 13 times your regular pay.
  • How the rate of pay is set is service specific.

Also, note that:

  • Opting for Continuation Pay incurs an additional service obligation of three years or greater, depending on your Service. 
  • Continuation Pay is taxable income. It may change your tax bracket.

LUMP SUM

You may opt to receive 25-50% of your total retired pay up front.

There are currently two options:

  • One lump sum
  • Four equal payments distributed over four years

If you choose either of the lump sum payments, your monthly retirement pay will then be reduced by either 75-50% until you reach full Social Security age.

If you choose to receive any of the lump sum options, you must officially file for it at least 90 days prior to the end of your service.  

For Veterans in need of a larger amount of cash, this may be a good option. However, it may also raise your tax bracket, as it is taxable income.

The military provides an online calculator to help determine possible payments under the BRS.

For more information, visit: https://militarypay.defense.gov/BlendedRetirement/

WHAT’S NEXT?

Pension payments are only one component to post-service life.

SAVI is here every step of the way to help you transition from service-member to thriving Veteran retiree. Our retirement track can provide additional resources and coaching for that purpose. 

https://savivets.org

Contact Us

Have a question about your Veteran benefits? You can email us today! If you are within one-year pre to post-military separation, you can enroll in our FREE program by setting up a call with one of our transition coaches.

Healthcare Options For Veteran Retirees

Healthcare Options For Veteran Retirees

With the coronavirus pandemic affecting every country on the planet, maintaining quality healthcare is on most people’s minds. This is especially true for Veterans, who may also face life-long treatment for service-connected disabilities. Luckily, there are many healthcare options for retirees to fit a variety of needs. 

Healthcare for Veterans generally falls under two options: VA Healthcare and TRICARE Prime. We’ll walk through each of them and provide links to additional resources to help you gain access to healthcare as you retire from service. 

TRICARE PRIME

Upon retiring, Veterans have the option of continuing to use TRICARE Prime. If you wish to stay with the same team of healthcare providers, this may be a good option for you and your family. Retired service members and their family members will no longer receive zero out of pocket coverage and will be faced with enrollment costs and co-pays. When retired service members and their families become eligible for Medicare based upon age, they are no longer eligible for TRICARE Prime.

TRICARE Prime is divided into two geographical regions. Visit this page to determine whether you should enroll in the regional plans. 

VA HEALTHCARE

You may also choose to transition to VA Healthcare. Coverage within this program is dependent upon each Veteran’s specific healthcare needs. Baseline services are extended if you require care specific to injuries or disabilities sustained during service.

Visit this page for information about making the switch from TRICARE Prime during active-service to VA Healthcare upon retirement. 

TRICARE PRIME AND VA HEALTHCARE, COMPARED:

OPTION TRICARE PRIME VA HEALTHCARE
Geographic availability Available in Prime Service Areas  1200 locations across the United States
Available for family members YES Case dependent for surviving spouses through the VA Civilian Health and Medical Program (CHAMPVA)
Co-Pay YES Dependent upon economic assessment
Works with other healthcare plans (Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance) NO YES
Mental health services to treat PTSD, MST, depression, and substance use problems Referral based and case contingent YES
Covers assisted-living or at home care NO Partial coverage
Vision Coverage Routine eye exams every two years

Routine eye exams 

Additional coverage for glasses, case contingent. 

Dental coverage

NO 

(Discontinued after retirement)

Certain cases
Coverage for caregivers NO Possibly. Case contingent
Application assistance 

YES

 

East Region: 

1-800-444-5445 

West Region: 1-844-866-9378

YES 

 

All regions:

877-222-8387

WHAT’S NEXT? 

 

If you do not enroll in either program and are not the recipient of private health insurance through a job, you or your dependents may still enroll in health care coverage provided by the Affordable Care Act ACA. Visit your state healthcare exchange to enroll in programs.

 

SAVI is here to help counsel Veterans as you make important choices regarding the future of your healthcare. Visit https://savivets.org/veterans-transition-assistance to learn about coaching services for creating your best post-service life. 

Contact Us

Have a question about your Veteran benefits? You can email us today! If you are within one-year pre to post-military separation, you can enroll in our FREE program by setting up a call with one of our transition coaches.

Understanding Retired Pay and VA Compensation and CRPD

Understanding Retired Pay and VA Compensation and CRPD

Retirement options can be complicated and difficult to understand. Today we’ll break down the options so that you can make the best choices for your future. The three main options are:

  • Retired Pay
  • VA Compensation
  • Concurrent Retirement and Disability Pay (CRDP) 

RETIRED PAY

Retired Pay is the pension you receive after retiring from the military. There are a variety of retirement plans which have different methods of determining monthly pay. To find out more about them in detail, visit here. No matter which retirement program you are enrolled in, your Retired Pay is considered taxable income. 

The Veterans Administration provides benefits separate from Retired Pay.

VA COMPENSATION

VA Compensation is a tax-free payment separate from your pension. The Veterans Administration provides benefits to most Veterans (or their dependents) with service-related disabilities. (Veterans with dishonorable discharges are ineligible for the benefits.) VA benefits for Veterans generally fall under one of two categories:

  • Disability Compensation
  • Special Monthly Compensation (SMC)

DISABILITY COMPENSATION

Disability compensation is a tax-free benefit paid to retirees who suffered injuries or illness during their military service. They are designed to compensate Veterans for a resulting lack of employment or diminished working time. They are paid to:

  • Veterans with disabilities resulting from a disease or injury sustained or aggravated during active military service.
  • Veterans with post-service disabilities that are considered related or secondary to disabilities occurring in service and for disabilities presumed to be related to circumstances of military service, even if they may develop after service.
  • Certain Veterans disabled from VA health care.

Regional offices are currently closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, but you can apply online for VA disability compensation here. The standard wait is four months to hear back about a claim. However, there are ways in which you may expedite a claim.

SPECIAL MONTHLY COMPENSATION (SMC)

SMC is a benefit that can be paid to Veterans, Veteran spouses, surviving spouses, and Veteran parents. The amount of the SMC is determined by the circumstances of the recipient.

Veterans may receive a higher rate of compensation due to special circumstances such as the need of aid and attendance by another person or a specific disability (e.g. the loss of a limb).

Spouses and surviving spouses may receive compensation based upon the need to aid and attendance by another person. This benefit is often referred to as “aid and attendance.” 

CONCURRENT RETIREMENT AND DISABILITY PAY (CRDP)

CRDP allows military retirees to receive both retired pay and Veterans Affairs (VA) compensation at the same time. It’s designed to offset VA disability payments. This option was prohibited for many years and was completely phased in during 2014. It is provided by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS). 

There are specific requirements needed to be met for eligibility. You may be eligible for CRDP is you are a:

  • Regular retiree with a VA disability rating of 50% or higher.
  • Reserve retiree with 20 qualifying years of service, with a VA disability rating of 50% or higher, who has reached the set retirement age for your specific service.  
  • Retired under the Temporary Early Retirement Act (TERA) and have a VA disability rating of 50 percent or greater.
  • Disability retiree who earned entitlement to retired pay under any provision of law other than solely by disability, and you have a VA disability rating of 50% or higher. You might become eligible for CRDP at the time you would have become eligible for retired pay.

However, you do not need to enroll in CRDP. If you are eligible, you will be automatically enrolled. 

In some cases, such as if the VA determines that your disability makes you unemployable, then you may receive not just offset payment, but full payment of retired pay and VA compensation at the same time.

If you have any questions regarding your CRDP payments, call DFAS at: 800-321-1080

CONCLUSION

For all applications, regardless of category, you will be asked to provide documentation regarding the disability. The VA requires a clear connection between a condition and a service-related injury. If the application seems overwhelming, you are entitled to FREE representation through an accredited claims agent or a Veteran Service Organization (VSO) to help you prepare and submit your claim for benefits. 

Contact Us

Have a question about your Veteran benefits? You can email us today! If you are within one-year pre to post-military separation, you can enroll in our FREE program by setting up a call with one of our transition coaches.

EDUCATION TRACK

Academic advising, walkthroughs of your VA education benefits … and everything in between.

All transitioning Veterans in SAVI’s programs gain access to our carefully developed tools for post-military students, including the SAVI Student Transition Incubator℠, Student Track Transition Program℠, and Student Benefit Assessment Service℠, as well as our personalized career path determination assistance.

These SAVI instructors and mentors, along with the entire SAVI team, understand that each of our services is vital to a whole life approach to the military-to-civilian transition. We take your unique goals, circumstances, and vision into account as we craft personalized assistance throughout your twelve-month journey with SAVI.  

EMPLOYMENT TRACK

Civilian workplace etiquette, the hiring process, job searches, performance evaluations...and everything in between.

SAVI’s Employment Track delivers start-to-finish support to help Veterans navigate a new career. From skills assessments to professional networking strategies, SAVI offers custom-built tools — including the SAVI Employment Transition Incubator℠, Job Networking & Search Service℠, and Employment Benefit Assessment Service℠ — as well as job retention and mentoring services to help you every step of the way.

These SAVI mentors have been in your shoes and have experience in the unique challenges Veterans may face as they seek employment after service. They are with you every step of the way throughout your twelve-month program, and provide ongoing professional guidance and mentorship throughout your career.

ENTREPRENEURSHIP TRACK

Value propositions, initial funding, branding, launch strategies… and everything in between.

All transitioning Veterans on this track receive our comprehensive tools for personal business success: the SAVI Entrepreneur Transition Incubator℠ and Entrepreneur Benefit Assessment Service℠, as well as our opportunity consulting and our funding exploration support.

Through your twelve month journey with SAVI, your mentors will guide you through the Entrepreneurship track while providing unique insight and guidance based on their own experience. Whether you are just starting a new venture, or expanding a passion project you created while in the military, our Entrepreneurship team is here for you every step of the way.

RETIREMENT TRACK

VA compensation and benefits, healthcare, financial planning… and everything in between.

All transitioning Veterans on this track receive comprehensive tools for a successful retirement: the SAVI Retirement Transition Incubator℠ and Retirement Benefit Assessment Service℠, as well as our one-on-one ongoing assistance and assessment services. We’re here to ensure you don’t have to muddle through the financial, personal, and emotional aspects of retirement on your own.

Our Retirement mentors know what it’s like to transition from a steady career to retirement, and want to use their personal and professional experience to help you have a smooth transition. Whether you have questions on finances or healthcare, or the more personal aspects of upkeeping emotional health, we are here for you every step of the way.


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    Getting Connected with Your Local Veterans Organizations

    If you’re a military Veteran, then you’re a part of a very niche group. Active military personnel make up less than 1 percent of the total U.S. population today, so it’s not surprising that so many Veterans feel isolated as they start their transitions into civilian life.

    Yet this issue isn’t a new one. Since 1899, organizations like the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and The American Legion were created to offer Veterans a place for camaraderie, to feel empowered, and to help boost troop morale for those still in the service.

    Fast-forward to today and Veterans groups have emerged in nearly every community in the country and boast a wide variety of scope and missions — such as the career program by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and the suicide prevention work by The Military Veteran Project. The benefits to getting involved with one of these local groups include much more than just gaining buddies to swap war-stories with. Veterans can also get assistance with job placements, career counseling, emotional support, and finding resources for disabled Vets.

    Not sure where to begin to find your local Veteran connections? Here’s a list of a few national Veteran groups with various local chapters across the nation.

    The American Legion ​
    AMVETS
    Disabled American Veterans
    Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America
    Korean War Veterans Association
    The Military Veteran Project
    Paralyzed Veterans of America
    Veterans of Foreign Wars
    • Student Veterans of America
    • Vietnam Veterans of America

    For a more comprehensive list of military charities, organizations, and government contacts, click here.

    Get Squared Away: A Comprehensive Checklist for Transitioning Service-Members

    18 Months Before Your Discharge
    • Review GI Bill and tuition assistance benefits
    • Review GI Bill transferability requirements (Transferring your benefits may require re-enlisting or incurring an additional service obligation.)
    • Use the DoD Online Academic Skills course to prepare for the SAT, ACT, GRE, or GMAT Exams
    • Take a skills/interest assessment through your local ESO or career counselor
    • Consider taking CLEP exams to complete your general education requirements
    • Reach out to your SAVI mentor for tips from someone who has lived through the transition experience -Start developing your personal and professional networks
    • Review your post-separation budget, and start planning for your financial transition
    • Register on LinkedIn to get ready for networking opportunities
    • Research the job potential, affordability, and community where you plan to live

    12 Months Before Your Discharge
    • Start developing an Individual Transition Plan
    • Review your Pre-Separation Checklist (DD 2648)
    • Get your Verification of Military Experience and Training (VMET) document (DD 2586)
    • Research the cost of living where you plan to live as a civilian-Learn about your VA home benefits -Make an appointment with your local Transition Counselor
    • Attend a Transition GPS five-day workshop -Check job boards, and start exploring the right career options for you
    • Start exploring the right degree and college for you -Request “house hunting orders”
    • Enroll in a SAVI Transition Incubator℠
    • Use a skills translator to begin developing a civilian resume

    9 Months Before Your Discharge
    • Continue building your networks through LinkedIn and elsewhere
    • Consider an employment assistance program
    • Start writing your resume
    • Search for jobs in your field and area to see what’s out there
    • Arrange for HHG transportation counseling -Research your healthcare options, including Employer-Provided Civilian Care, CHCBP, Transitional Health Care Benefits, and CHAMP
    • Make a budget, and prepare to pay for health insurance coverage

    6 Months Before Your Discharge
    • Start applying for jobs -Start building a wardrobe for the civilian workplace
    • Continue to expand your career networks
    • Attend career fairs
    • Review and update your will and financial documents
    • Consider whether to take terminal leave or sell back your balance
    • Schedule appointments for household goods (HHG) shipment and storage
    • Schedule final medical checkups for all family members
    • Visit the Legal Assistance Office for help updating your documents
    • Determine if you’re eligible for separation pay or early retirement
    •Begin your PCS and housing checkout procedures -Begin looking for VSOs to join

    3 Months Before Your Discharge
    • Consider job placement services
    • Use the VA Pre-discharge program to determine your eligibility for VA Disability Compensation
    • Review your finances to ensure your budget will work in civilian life
    • Compare SGLI to VGLI and other life insurance options
    • Get to know more about where you plan to live
    • Contact your Military Treatment Facility, and get copies of all of your health records
    • Complete a physical with your MTF or a VA Medical Center
    • Take advantage of the two-day TAP GPS program for education and entrepreneurship support

    1 Month Before Your Discharge
    • Finalize your relocation appointments, and review your benefits
    • Arrange for inspection of any government housing
    • Choose your transitional healthcare plan

    Enrolling in VA Healthcare

    1. Make it easier on yourself: Start with support from VA’s Concierge of Care. Enrolling in VA care isn’t as tough a process as it used to be. In October 2017, VA launched its Concierge for Care (C4C) program to enhance its support for transitioning Veterans in getting VA healthcare. The C4C initiative educates and empowers Veterans while simplifying the healthcare application and enrollment process. This means that, shortly after you separate, you’ll get a phone call from a representative who can answer questions, process your VA healthcare enrollment application, and schedule your first VA medical appointment.

    2. Get notified of your application status. After your application is submitted, you’ll receive another phone call from VA to let you know whether your enrollment is approved. VA will also send you a Veterans Health Benefits Handbook with information on your healthcare benefits, Enrollment Priority Group, copay status, and other information you’ll need as a new enrollee. Handbooks also include information for appealing a decision if your initial application is rejected.

    3. Get your Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC). Only Veterans enrolled in the VA healthcare system can receive a VHIC. Once your application is verified, contact the enrollment coordinator at your local VA medical center to arrange to get your picture taken for the your card either in advance or at your next VA healthcare appointment.

    4. Keep your information current after you enroll. Enrolled Veterans can update your personal information (such as income, address, and insurance information) by completing VA Form 10-10EZR online, by visiting a local VA facility, or by calling 1-877-222-VETS between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday.

    Project You: Top Self-Development Courses to Take

    Create a Perfect Morning Routine
    You will learn how to create a morning routine filled with purpose, presence, and peace. You’ll be more energized, productive, and content — all before the start of your workday. Start your morning by doing things that feed your soul and make you happy.

    Finding Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
    If you’ve been searching for your true purpose in life, Eckhart Tolle has some straightforward advice: Stop struggling. This is because the primary purpose of every human being is simply to be: Be fully engaged in this moment, and be aligned with the natural flow of reality itself.

    Mindshift: Break Through Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential
    This course is designed to show you how to look at what you’re learning, and your place in what’s unfolding in the society around you, so that you can be what you want to be. You’ll see that by using certain mental tools and insights, you can learn and do more than you might have ever dreamed.

    Achieving Personal and Professional Success
    You'll learn how to find your passion and core values, how to apply these values to your own life, how to work well with others, how to communicate effectively, how to set goals, how to use influence to achieve these goals, and even how to say you are sorry. Through exercises, self-diagnostic surveys, quizzes, and many case studies, you'll discover how to define not only what you want, but also the best way to get it. These courses provide key insights into successful personal practices, whether you are in the office or in your home. We all bring ourselves to work every day, and these courses will help you be your best self wherever you are.


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    Adrianne Phillips is a service-disabled veteran, who founded Strategic Alliance for Veteran Integration (SAVI) as a reaction to the immense need for support of veterans transitioning to civilian life. After serving in the U.S. Air Force as a combat service-member and Security Forces, Adrianne transitioned out of the military and into civilian life. During this time, she realized that veterans often make the transition with little or no structural support or guidance. This prompted her to spend over 11 years working in the veterans benefit sector, including working in development, adjudication, training, presenting, quality assurance, and division management. In 2011, she started a corporation focusing on event travel management and corporate business travel. In 2017, she harnessed her experience as a veteran, benefits manager, and entrepreneur to found the Strategic Alliance for Veteran Integration with the goal of supporting every service-member’s transition.

    Juan Rivas

    Juan is a solutions-oriented Organizational Development and Learning Professional with experience in global Fortune 100 companies in various industries. He has solid expertise in the development of leadership and staff as well as the implementation of talent management and performance management initiatives. His experience across a variety of industries allows him to see problems from different perspectives and he is able to offer creative solutions to seemingly tough issues. He challenges leaders to think more strategically by increasing their self-awareness and taking advantage of their internal resources. Mr. Rivas earned his Master’s Degree from American Military University and is a Veteran of the US Navy having served 23+ years. He has hands-on experience with the aerospace, manufacturing and engineering industries.

    Juan is a Certified Professional Coach and holds multiple certifications including Master Training Specialist, Professional in Human Resources, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, DiSC, Emotional Intelligence (Eqi), Korn Ferry Leadership Architect and 360 Feedback, Risk Type Indicator, Systemic Team Coaching and Brides Change Management.

    Recently, Juan served as an HR Director for the Walt Disney Company and prior to the acquisition of 20th Century Fox his contributions to the talent strategy, leadership development, employee engagement and change management were key during the sale and transition.

    Juan also proudly serves as a military transition consultant for various for profit and non-profit organizations that are looking to hire Veterans or specialize in helping Veterans adjust to the civilian world.

    Adrianne Phillips

    Adrianne Phillips is a service-disabled Veteran, who founded Strategic Alliance for Veteran Integration (SAVI) as a reaction to the immense need for support of Veterans transitioning to civilian life. After serving in the U.S. Air Force as a combat service-member and Security Forces, Adrianne transitioned out of the military and into civilian life. During this time, she realized that Veterans often make the transition with little or no structural support or guidance. This prompted her to spend over 11 years working in the Veterans benefit sector, including working in development, adjudication, training, presenting, quality assurance, and division management. In 2011, she started a corporation focusing on event travel management and corporate business travel. In 2017, she harnessed her experience as a Veteran, benefits manager, and entrepreneur to found the Strategic Alliance for Veteran Integration with the goal of supporting every service-member’s transition.

    Aloysius Teo

    Aloysius is an advisor, project manager, mentor & consultant in business & technology strategy. He works with early-stage startups to develop their Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and guiding ideas and concepts into commercially viable solutions. His partnerships with established businesses result in the creation of new verticals and opportunities.

    Creative strategist/technologist across multiple industries - healthcare, entertainment & music, MMR, travel, print production, blockchain, crypto-currencies, Big Data & AI. 20yrs technology industry experience and certified AWS APN & mobile technology.

    Refer a Veteran

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    Michael Foster

    Former Naval Officer, Real Estate Investor, and Entrepreneur, Mike Foster serves as the Education Chief and Podcast Host for Active Duty Passive Income.

    He graduated from the US Naval Academy in 2013 where he met his beautiful wife, began his naval and real estate investing career, building the foundation for his success.

    While active duty, Mike was fortunate enough to have had several remarkable mentors that taught him the importance of credit-building, creative financing techniques and wealth building strategies. Since then, he has acquired multiple real estate investments, he owns several businesses, and mentors thousands of Veterans around the world.

    Mike runs “The Military Real Estate Investing Show” powered by Active Duty Passive Income, where he showcases military members and Veterans that have taken action in the real estate world and want to share their journey with his audience. He occasionally brings on special guests to add motivation and fire to his program.

    Sample Episodes:
    Interview with Robert Kiyosaki
    Interview with Jason Hartman
    Interview with Nathan Brooks

    Guest Appearances:
    Investing In Real Estate With Clayton Morris
    Military Investor Network
    Capital Hacking

    April Durrant

    April works as an organization development consultant at her company Integrated Perspectives Consulting helping businesses create visionary solutions and strategies designed for growth, adaptation and transformation. Working with companies as they navigate change and discover their organization in a new way. This is made possible by understanding the many different perspectives within the company and by taking existing strengths and resources and applying them in new ways.

    April is a 3rd generation veteran, having served on active duty in the medical field, on special assignment with the Defense Intelligence Agency and deployed during Operation Enduring Freedom. After transitioning out of the military into the civilian sector, she worked in credit management, airline safety and auditing. During her work as auditor and liaison with Delta Air Lines, she discovered her passion for creating solutions and problem solving, by incorporating multiple perspectives and working with the status quo to design better solutions.

    This led to the pursuit of her master's degree in leadership and organizational development at Saint Louis University and to the founding of her consulting company. She has since worked with community leaders in Oceanside, CA to develop a shared vision and branding for the community mural initiative, now known as "Art that Excites".

    April is passionate about helping organizations and individuals navigate change and discover solutions that work.

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