The Army and Air National Guard are federally funded, state-administered organizations within the reserve component of the Armed Forces of the United States. In peacetime, they report to their respective state governors; during natural disasters, riots or other civil emergencies, they support civilian law enforcement and emergency management authorities. In a national emergency, however, the National Guard can be called to active duty for up to two years on the order of the president. After completing 20 qualifying years of service, members of the National Guard may qualify for retirement pay, starting at age 60.
Members of the National Guard earn points toward their retirement pay by completing all scheduled drill periods and attending an annual training period of about two weeks each year for at least 20 years. In addition, they earn additional points for days spent on active duty. Retirement pay becomes available when the individual reaches age 60. However, there are provisions that allow members who have served tours on active duty in support of the Global War on Terror to begin receiving payments earlier. Active duty retirees, in contrast, have no waiting period, but may begin collecting retirement pay upon completing 20 qualifying years.
Veterans Administration Disability Compensation
The Veterans Administration runs the disability compensation program, which provides American troops with monetary compensation based on the percentage level of their service-related disability. A veteran who has a 100 percent disability will receive more in compensation than someone with a 20 percent disability rating. These pensions are not means-tested. You can collect National Guard retirement pay and disability at the same time, if you qualify.
The Department of Veterans Affairs also administers a pension program that provides cash payments to disabled wartime veterans, or wartime veterans over 65 who have very low incomes. This pension is means-tested. While there is no specific regulation that says you cannot collect National Guard retirement pay and the veterans pension, your retirement pay may count against you for pension eligibility. There is no upper cap on net worth to qualify for the veterans pension.
SSI and Retirement Pay
If you are disabled and are unable to earn substantial income through work, you may qualify for SSI, or Supplemental Security Income, through the Social Security Administration. Like the veterans pension, SSI is means-tested. Any income you receive from a veterans pension is counted against you for SSI purposes, but military retirement pay is not. The primary factor in assessing your eligibility for SSI is your inability to work, not your pay status with the military.
Social Security Benefits and Retirement Pay
Unlike other federal pensions, there is no Social Security offset for veterans of the military collecting retirement pay for their military service. You can collect your full Social Security benefit and your full military retirement pay at the same time.