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Marsha411JD, Lawyer
Category: Military Law
Satisfied Customers: 20363
Experience:  Licensed attorney and former Navy JAG serving ashore, afloat and at the OJAG
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I served 13 years active duty military and have no reserve

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I served 13 years active duty military and have no reserve obligation. I received a package including involuntary separation pay and benefits contingent upon if I was "qualified" or "not qualified" (per a generic military form) to join Army Reserves for 3 years. That is, I would receive the separation pay and benefits whether or not I joined the reserves. I was qualified however and signed up for 3 years in the reserves. I also submitted a VA disability claim and am awaiting results. Should I miss reserve drill and/or fail out, would I have to pay back separation pay/benefits or would any penalties be taken from my VA disability? Again, I don't have any required reserve obligation and I joined because I was "qualified".


Thank you for the information and your question. If you signed an agreement that contained a clause that you were receiving the separation pay in exchange for, not only your time in service, but also as a result of signing a 3 year contract for the Reserves, then that contract would be enforceable, whether or not you would have been eligible for the separation without making that commitment. In other words, what is key is what you signed and what it said.

So, assuming the agreement said, in effect, what I mentioned above, then if you fail to complete your 3 year Reserve commitment due to your own fault, then you would be liable under the contract for repayment of the separation pay. That said, if that ever happened, you could always ask for a waiver and try to argue that you would have been entitled anyway (which probably won't work) or because it would create a financial hardship (if it would.)

Any debt owed to the Government could, if left unpaid, be deducted from any other source of income coming from the Government. So, that could include tax refunds, your VA disability compensation, or federal school loans.

Hopefully none of this ever occurs, but at least you now know the consequences of a breach of the contract. Please let me know if you need any clarification. I would be glad to assist you further if I can.
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