Extreme circumstances can lead active duty military members to serve longer than their expected window. For example, during periods of war military members can be required to serve up to six months after the conflict ends.
Stop-loss, the involuntary extension of a service member’s active duty, was invoked after the September 11th attacks. To compensate military members for extra time served, the government is providing Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay (RSLSP).
Service members that missed the original RSLSP deadline are in luck. The deadline to claim stop-loss benefits was recently extended from October 21st of 2010 to October 21st of 2011.
RSLSP applies to eligible military members who were required to extend their length of military service from September 11, 2001, to September 30, 2009.
It is possible for service members to claim $500 per month/partial month that has been served in stop loss status; the average total amount is almost $4,000. However, your actual payment will be determined by your time spent on active duty.
Stop-loss benefits are not automatically awarded to military members. You must submit a claim to receive compensation for your time. Military members who are eligible for RSLSP should file the claim with their branch of the military. This can easily be done by going to their branch website.
Online submission provides a claim number, allows for automated status updates, and provides a means for the branch to keep in contact with the applicant.
Depending on specific status and service, there are certain documents that may be required to process a RSLSP claim:
There are circumstances when a stop-lossed service member is not eligible for RSLSP. The Defense Appropriations Act voids RSLSP for military members who voluntarily reenlisted or extended their service and received a bonus for the extension.
Photo thanks to US Army Africa under a creative commons license from Flickr