People whose military service was extended involuntarily or whose retirement was suspended between Sept. 11, 2001, and Sept. 30, 2009, have until March 4 to file for retroactive payments of $500 for each month of their extended service under the “Stop Loss” policy.
The deadline ends the second extension for eligible people to apply to receive the retroactive pay.
“This is a timely payment for services already rendered,” said Lernes “Bear” Hebert, the Defense Department’s director of officer and enlisted personnel management. “It’s a no-strings-attached program; one where they fill out a simple form and attach a few documents [to show] their service.”
Each service branch will work with potential applicants to determine eligibility, he added.
The program also applies to beneficiaries who lost loved ones in the ultimate sacrifice during their service, Hebert said.
Applying through the Internet or by mail is easy and usually takes less than 30 minutes, Hebert said, adding that once eligibility is established, the money “just shows up in your bank account.”
“There’s nothing more to it,” he said. “You probably won’t hear from the military again unless you initiate contact.”
Applications sent via Internet or postmarked by March 4 for delivery by mail will have met the deadline, Hebert said.
An estimated 145,000 people are eligible for the special pay, Defense Department officials said, noting that 77,000 claims have been paid. Officials strongly recommend that all potential applicants apply before the March 4 deadline, even those who received a bonus for voluntarily re-enlisting and those who think they’re not eligible because they extended their service.