TN 21 (06-24)

DI 10505.023 Military Service

A. General

A person in the military service who is being treated for a severe impairment usually continues to receive full pay. Therefore, for substantial gainful activity (SGA) purposes, it is not appropriate to evaluate their work activity based on the amount of pay received. Instead, it is generally necessary to use nonmonetary SGA criteria in assessing the work activity of a service member receiving treatment at a military hospital or working in a designated therapy program or on limited duty. That is, the adjudicator must compare the activity with similar work in the civilian work force and determine its reasonable worth. See the “NOTE” for evaluating the work activity of a Title II disability beneficiary if the exemption of work activity provision in DI 10505.020D. applies.

Severely impaired service members may, for example, be placed on limited duty status and put to work in a hospital, office, mailroom, laboratory, or the like. The controlling factor in these cases is an objective evaluation of the work activity itself, and not the service member's duty status, or whether or not a formal therapy program is involved. The fact that a therapy program or limited duty status is involved suggests that special subsidies or conditions may exist (see DI 10505.010). This requires that the adjudicator consider the real value of the work effort within the military setting and then equate its value to similar work in a nonmilitary setting.

NOTE: Under the exemption of work activity provision described in DI 10505.020D., the activities engaged in by a Title II disability beneficiary in work performed after they have received Title II disability benefits for 24 months, may not be used as evidence that the individual’s disability has ceased. However, the work activities engaged in by the beneficiary may be used as evidence when determining if disability has ceased if they show that the beneficiary is not engaged in SGA. Therefore, if application of the evaluation criteria in this subsection A. establishes that the work is not SGA, determine that the work does not show that the beneficiary is able to engage in SGA in a case in which the exemption of work activity provision applies. Otherwise, determine the beneficiary’s countable earnings and then apply the guides in DI 10505.020A. or in DI 10505.020B. to determine if the beneficiary is engaged in SGA for disability cessation purposes. Work performed in a therapy program or while on limited duty by a service member receiving treatment for a severe impairment generally suggests that the work is performed under special conditions, therefore pay special attention to considering only that part of the beneficiary’s earnings which are directly related to their own productivity when determining countable earnings. Compare the services performed in a military setting with like services performed in the civilian work force to determine the value of the actual services performed by the beneficiary for purposes of determining countable earnings before applying the SGA earnings guidelines.

B. Documentation and evaluation

1. Description of military work activities

The service member is the primary source of information about the work activities they perform. Documentation will help to resolve the extent of any subsidy in the military service pay and the actual worth of the limited duties.

If, however, the service member's description of duties is equivocal or apparently inaccurate, or if it shows activities not readily correlated to jobs in the civilian community, corroborative information is necessary. Military personnel having supervisory and administrative knowledge of the details and status of the limited work should be contacted. Examples of such personnel could include commanding officers or senior non-commissioned officers (for enlisted personnel).

NOTE: Army personnel carry a "Company Alert Roster" document that specifies their line of command (Squad Leader to Commander)." This roster may be helpful in identifying a contact for development of work activity.

2. Comparison of military and civilian work activities

a. Comparison based on first-hand knowledge

In some situations the service member's description of job duties may offer reasonable assurance that the work activity can be readily identified and compared to a similar type of civilian occupation, such as clerk-typist, truck mechanic, or the like. The adjudicator may be sufficiently aware of prevailing work and pay scales in the community to be able to equate the service member's job duties with those in the nonmilitary economy and to determine the worth of the services performed. In appropriate situations the file should reflect the details of such knowledge, inasmuch as the SGA determination must be made on the basis of what the service member does and how much such activity would be worth in the civilian community.

b. Comparison based on military occupation manuals

If no obvious comparison can be made between the service member’s military work duties and a civilian occupation, it may be necessary to consult the military occupation manuals. These manuals are published by each branch of military service and provide a classification system for all military service occupations for enlisted personnel, commissioned officers, and warrant officers. They describe the duties and personnel qualifications for each listed military occupation. For those occupations with a “direct, or reasonably related, civilian counterpart,” one or more “civilian source jobs” are listed according to the job code or title in the Department of Labor's Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT). This correlation of military service occupations with civilian jobs classified in the DOT makes the military occupation manuals an indispensable reference source for comparing military and civilian work activities. The military occupational manuals are available through the officer in charge of personnel matters at military hospitals and installations and online at . Click on “career exploration” then “alphabetical job list” for a specific job title that is cross-referenced by branch of service as well. Civilian counterpart jobs are listed here also.

Military reference materials should be used only when necessary for equating the job duties of service members with those performed in the civilian sector.

C. Comparison based on contact with other sources

Other steps may be indicated if reasonable doubt remains as to what represents an equivalent civilian job or as to how the value of the service member's work activities compares with the pay for similar civilian work. Contact may be made with employers, the U.S. Employment Service, or other informed sources of employment and vocational data, including a vocational specialist. These contacts are expected to be for advice and information gathering only, to aid judgments in the case. In some instances the military occupation manuals will not list, in conjunction with a military job, any related civilian job, or they may list only one civilian job which happens not to exist in the community in which the comparison is conducted. The title of the disabled service member's military service occupation and/or listed civilian job may, however, lead the vocational specialist to identify closely related civilian occupations discussed in the DOT with which the adjudicator may satisfactorily compare the military service occupation.

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DI 10505.023 - Military Service - 06/11/2024
Batch run: 06/11/2024