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Dependency or Hardship Discharge

Air Force

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DAFI 36-3211 Military Separations (24 JUNE 2022)

DAFI 36-3211 Military Separations (24 JUNE 2022) (4.3 MB)

Comments: To view or download the complete regulation, click on the link to it in the box above these comments.


Section 5--Processing Applications

5.1 How Airmen Apply for Prior-to-ETS Separation. Each paragraph in this chapter authorizing separation describes the items needed to show a basis for separation exists.


Section 5-C--Dependency or Hardship

5.15. Conditions for Discharge. Members may request discharge when genuine dependency or undue hardship exists.

5.15.1 A basis for discharge may exist when:

  • The dependency or hardship is not temporary.
  • Conditions have arisen or have been aggravated to an excessive degree since the airman entered active duty.
  • The airman has made every reasonable effort to remedy the situation.
  • Separation eliminates or materially alleviates the conditions.
  • There are no other means of alleviation readily available other than the separation.

5.15.2 Undue hardship or dependency does not necessarily exist because:

  • Of altered present or expected income; or
  • The family is separated or suffers the inconveniences usually incident to military service.

5.16 Evidence Required. FSS/MPF personnel counsel members about the conditions for, and evidence needed to support separation for hardship or dependency. Written statements of the facts of the case support the application for discharge. The original, signed statements accompany the application.

5.16.1 In some cases, specific types of statements are required. If the application is based on a condition that is:

  • Due to the death of family member, a death certificate or other proof of death is required.
  • Caused by the disability of a family member, a physician's statement tells what the disability is, when it occurred, and prognosis.
  • A financial hardship, and there is evidence of prospective civilian employment with income that would exceed the member's military pay.

5.16.2 In all cases, the application must:

  • State specifically the hardship or dependency condition. (T-2).
  • Give specific dates of events. (T-2).
  • List other family members with their ages, occupations, incomes, and locations. (T-2).
  • Tell why the other family members cannot give the care or support needed. (T-2).

5.17 Red Cross Assistance. On request, the American Red Cross helps obtain, or verify, information about circumstances that may be a basis for discharge for hardship or dependency due to illness, injury, or death.

5.17.1. If it seems that an application should be approved, but if more information is needed, the separation authority asks the local Red Cross representative to obtain it.

5.17.2. Members or their dependents may ask local Red Cross chapters to help them get evidence they need to support an application for discharge. In these cases, the Red Cross does not make a formal report to the AF or SF, unless it is requested (see paragraph 5.17.1).

5.18. Special Procedures and Considerations:

5.18.1. For information about where airmen apply for discharge under this section, see Table 5.2.

5.18.2. Commanders, FSS/MPF personnel, and other support agencies should:

  • Prioritize applications for discharge under this provision and process them quickly.
  • Assist the member in creating a complete application that contains all requirements mentioned in paragraph 5.16.
  • Not delay or disapprove discharge for dependency or hardship because the member's services are needed in the organization. Indebtedness to the government is not a bar to separation.

5.18.3. If the airman is under court-martial charges or investigation that may result in the preferring of charges, an application for discharge under this section may be processed. If it is approved, the airman may not be discharged while the investigation or charges are pending except as provided in paragraph 3.7. A member whose involuntary administrative separation or discharge action was initiated prior to submission of an application for hardship separation or discharge, is not eligible for separation or discharge under this paragraph until the final disposition of the administrative proceedings. This restriction may be waived by the separation authority.

5.18.4. An application for discharge may show the airman had dependents who were not acknowledged at the time of enlistment. If so, consider the possibility of discharge for fraudulent or erroneous enlistment, see Table 7.4. The fraud or error may be waived in accordance with procedures outlined in paragraph 7.19 to permit discharge under this section.

5.18.5. If a request for discharge is received from an airman's family, counsel the airman about how to apply for discharge. Do not approve a discharge until the member has applied in writing.

5.18.6. Airmen separated for hardship or dependency are discharged.

5.18.7. AFMAN 36-2032 restricts enlistment of prior service persons last discharged for dependency or hardship. Counsel the applicant about this restriction, get a signed statement reflecting understanding of the policy, and add it to the case file.

5.19. Final Action on Applications. AFPC/DP2SSR or ARPC/DPTTS (as applicable) are the approval and disapproval authorities for all hardship separations. The separation authority:

5.19.1. Approves the application and notifies the airman promptly; or

5.19.2. Approves an alternate DOS contingent on the acceptance of the members; or

5.19.3. Disapproves the application and advises member that a new application may be submitted if circumstances change. In such cases, new supporting evidence is necessary.

5.20. Applications Submitted at Other Than the Base of Assignment. FSSs/MPFs give extra help to airmen who apply for discharge while they are on leave or enroute PCS. The FSS/MPF that processes the application (Table 5.2.):

Comments: "PCS" is Permanent Change of Station.

5.20.1. Asks the applicant's commander to grant an extension of leave, if more time is needed for processing. (T-2).

5.20.2. Communicates with the aerial port, if a port call must be changed or cancelled. (T-2).

If the separation authority decides that the application warrants approval, sends a message (includes minimize) to the member's servicing FSS/MPF. (T-2). The servicing FSS/MPF determines if there are any actions pending or reasons that would preclude approval and execution of the member's hardship discharge. If there are none, the servicing FSS/MPF will immediately reassign the member PCS without permanent change of assignment for separation and furnish the processing FSS/MPF the special order number by return message. (T-2).

Comments: "TDY" is Temporary Duty. "FSS/MPF" is Force Support Squadron/Military Personnel Flight.