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Qualifying for a Disability Retirement

Your disability percentage, which will be assigned by the Physical Evaluation Board, will determine whether your disability qualifies you for retirement or separation:
  • If you have less than 20 years of active service a disability rating of 30 percent or higher will qualify you for retirement, and a disability rating below 30 percent will result in separation.
  • If you have 20 or more years of active service, retirement will be recommended regardless of your disability rating.
  • If your disability existed before you entered the armed forces you will be recommended for discharge without benefits.

Your Branch of Service may place you on either the Temporary Disability Retired List (TDRL) or the Permanent Disability Retired List (PDRL).

A member of the TDRL or the PDRL is a retired member of the armed forces. You are entitled to all rights and privileges of a military retiree, which may include:

  • Participation in Survivor Benefit Plans
  • Voluntary/involuntary allotments from your retired pay
  • Disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs

If you meet additional requirements you may also qualify for Combat-Related Special Compensation  or Concurrent Retirement and Disability Pay .

Temporary Disability Retirement List
If you are found unfit to perform your duties because of a disability that may not be permanent, you may be placed on the Temporary Disability List (TDRL).

Your retired pay will be computed using one of two methods:

  • your disability percentage (using a minimum of 50 percent for payment purposes while on the TDRL), referred to as Method A, or
  • your years of active service, referred to as Method B.

Your pay will be computed based on whichever is more beneficial for you. 

While on the TDRL, a physical examination is required at least once every 18 months. If you fail to report for your physical examination, you Branch of Service will remove you from the TDRL list and your retired pay will be suspended until your examination has been completed.

You may remain on the TDRL for up to five years, providing your condition does not change during that time. If at any time you are found fit for duty, you may be removed from the TDRL and returned to active duty.

If your disability stabilizes and is rated at 30 percent or greater, you will be transferred to the Permanent Disability Retired List (PDRL). If your disability stabilizes and is rated at less than 30 percent and you do not have 20 years of service, you will be discharged from the TDRL with severance pay.

Permanent Disability Retired List
If your disability is found to be permanent and is rated at 30 percent or greater, or you have 20 or more years of service, you will be placed on the Permanent Disability Retired List (PDRL).

Your retired pay will be computed using one of two methods.

  • Your disability percentage, referred to as Method A.
  • Your years of active service, referred to as Method B.

Your pay will be computed based on whichever method is more beneficial for you.

If you have been transferred from the TDRL to the PDRL, your retired pay will be recalculated using your most current disability rating.

For more information, submit your question online or call 800-321-1080 to speak to a Customer Service Representative.

If you have concerns about your VA disability rating, please contact the VA at 800-827-1000.

Page updated February 9, 2012