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Can You Join The Reserves With 100 Percent Disability?

Last updated: December 18, 2023

The National Guard Reserves offer opportunities for individuals with disabilities to serve their country, including those with a 100% disability rating under certain circumstances. This article explores the eligibility and implications of joining the reserves with a disability rating. 

In 2022, about 2.1 million veterans in the United States had a service-connected disability rating of 70% or higher.[1]  With this finding at hand, read on to get essential information about serving in the reserves, including job opportunities, deployment terms, discharge policies, and activation procedures are as follows.

Understanding Military Reserves

Originating as a colonial militia, the National Guard Reserves have evolved into a modern, adaptable force. Understanding this history is key for recruits to appreciate its significance.

Personnel and Structure

Combining full-time and part-time personnel, the National Guard Reserves allow service alongside civilian careers. Its structure includes combat, support units, and roles for recruits with disabilities, promoting inclusivity.

“2.1 million veterans in the United States had a service-connected disability rating of 70% or higher.”

Sources and Utilization

Drawing from civilian and military backgrounds, the National Guard Reserves offer diverse opportunities. Reservists, including those with disabilities, are assigned roles matching their skills, enhancing mission effectiveness.

This overview provides potential recruits with essential insights into the National Guard Reserves' history, structure, and inclusive approach, highlighting its adaptability and diverse talent pool.

Eligibility Criteria for Reservists

Standards for Joining

To join the National Guard Reserves, recruits must meet physical fitness standards, with accommodations possible for those with disabilities. It's crucial to fulfill these requirements to effectively serve as a reservist.

Disability Rating and Its Implications

VA disability ratings, based on medical evaluations, affect veterans' benefits. Those with a 100% disability rating should consult with VA and recruiters to understand the impact on their reserve duties and benefits.

Dual Compensation Regulations

Reservists must navigate dual compensation regulations, which govern the receipt of military pay and VA disability benefits, to prevent duplicate payments. Understanding these regulations is essential for reservists with disability ratings.

“To join the National Guard Reserves, recruits must meet physical fitness standards, with accommodations possible for those with disabilities.”

VA Disability Rating and Military Service

Serving with a Disability Rating

Reservists with disabilities can serve effectively, with accommodations as needed. The National Guard Reserves welcome their contributions, allowing them to leverage their skills and expertise.

Impact on Active Duty Stints

A 100% disability rating may alter active duty requirements, depending on individual circumstances and medical evaluations. Reservists with disabilities receive special consideration to prioritize their well-being and mission effectiveness.

Government Debt Collection Concerns

Reservists receiving military pay and VA disability benefits must understand dual compensation rules to prevent government debt collection issues. Awareness of regulations is essential to avoid overpayments and incorrect payments.

Eligibility for VA Disability Benefits

VA disability benefits eligibility hinges on the severity and service connection of disabilities. Meeting specific criteria, including a 100% disability rating, allows veterans to receive Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) benefits, even if they join the reserves. 

It's worth noting that the average rate of increase in the number of service-connected disabled veterans is 2.9%, and 8.0% for the amount of annual compensation payments.[2] This emphasizes the importance of understanding how disability ratings and benefits evolve over time for veterans considering reserve service.

Training Schedule and Compensation

Reservists receive compensation during training, with rates increasing based on experience. In fiscal year 2021, rates started at $250 per weekend drill session for those with less than four months of cumulative active duty service.

Verifying Time for Dual Payments

Accurate service time verification is vital for dual payments. Reservists can use resources like myPay from the Defense Finance Accounting Service (DFAS) to track their service time, ensuring proper compensation for military service and VA disability benefits.

“In fiscal year 2021, rates started at $250 per weekend drill session for those with less than four months of cumulative active duty service.”

Active Guard Reserve (AGR) Status

For those with 100% P&T disability, full-time service in the National Guard Reserves is possible through AGR positions, available in state and federal forces. Explore this option for expanded service opportunities.

Maintaining VA Benefits While Serving

Joining the reserves doesn't mean losing VA disability benefits. Reservists must understand and adhere to regulations to continue receiving VA support while serving in the National Guard Reserves.

Active Duty Character in National Guard

Reservists in the National Guard Reserves have a dual role and may be called to active duty. This allows them to contribute to crucial missions while serving their country.

State and Federal Roles in National Guard Operations

Territorial Organization and State Defense Forces

The National Guard Reserves operate at state and territorial levels, supported by state defense forces when necessary. Understanding this structure is vital to grasp the National Guard's functioning.

National Guard Bureau and Constitutional Basis

The National Guard Bureau serves as a crucial link between state and federal authorities, rooted in the U.S. Constitution's militia concept, providing a clear framework for its duties.

State, Territory, and Federal Duty Dynamics

Reservists in the National Guard fulfill diverse roles at state, territory, and federal levels, contingent on mission requirements and legal frameworks. This understanding is essential for potential recruits, including those with disability ratings. States have their own National Guard units, but they can be federalized during emergencies, while their primary allegiance remains with their states.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can individuals with a 100% disability rating join the military reserves?

No, individuals with a 100% disability rating are not eligible to join the military reserves. The reserves require individuals to be physically and mentally fit for service, and a 100% disability rating indicates significant impairments that would prevent participation in reserve duties.

2. What is the role of the VA disability rating in relation to military service?

The VA disability rating determines the extent of service-connected disabilities and provides compensation for veterans. It does not directly impact eligibility for joining the military reserves, but a high disability rating may indicate limitations that could affect an individual's ability to serve.

3. Do reservists receive VA benefits while serving?

Yes, reservists can receive certain VA benefits while serving in the military reserves. These benefits include access to healthcare services through the VA system, as well as potential compensation for disabilities incurred or aggravated during reserve duty.


Joining the reserves as a 100% P&T disabled veteran requires understanding the eligibility criteria and the impact on VA benefits. It's vital to consult VA resources, military recruiters, and fellow veterans. While offering personal growth and camaraderie, it's crucial to consider the challenges and how it aligns with long-term goals and well-being.

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Chloe Powers
Chloe works with policymakers on behalf of Disability Help to support their work at a strategic level, ensuring the conditions are in place for creative individuals and organizations to grow, reach their potential and effect relevant, sustainable change.
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