Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Service academy time and accrued leave (updated)

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Q: I began working in the federal government in August 2008. I am currently buying back 13 years of military service: nine years in the Marine Corps and four years at the Naval Academy. I understand once I complete the military service buy-back I will have 13 years added to my creditable service date for retirement purposes.

My leave service computation date currently reflects the nine years of Marine Corps service plus my 1.5 years as civilian employee. As a result, I am earning six hours of leave per pay period. I questioned my human resources department as to why my leave SCD does not reflect all of my creditable military service I am buying back. My HR department stated that service academy time is creditable for retirement purposes but is not creditable for leave purposes.

This may be correct. However, it does not seem very logical. To date, no one from my HR department can produce the reference that confirms this policy. Can you tell me if my HR department is correct, and can you let me know where I could find this reference?

A: Your HR office was mistaken. According to OPM, Section 1115 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2008 made academy time creditable for retirement purposes and, by extension, leave accrual purposes. That service is creditable both prospectively and restrospectively.

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Comments

  1. Matt Gapinski Says:
    May 13th, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    That is not correct! Under GPPA (Guide to Processing Personnel Actions) Notice 96-7, dated December 9, 1996 and subsequently revised on March 18, 1997 – while Academy time is not creditable for uniformed service retirement, it is active duty and it is creditable for leave accrual and RIF purposes. My academy time and my active duty time are both reflected in my Service Comp Date.

  2. Chris Cable Says:
    June 17th, 2010 at 10:16 am

    Based on the actual wording of the law, I don’t think the Federal Times Blog guy got it right. Section 1115 (c) (1) specifically limits the applicability to annuities only. see below. I hope I am wrong because I and a couple other retired Navy guys here have been fighting this fight too…..and we’d like to get the leave!!!! Our HR claims that 10 U.S.C. [section] 971(b) prohibits granting SCD credit to employees for attendance at military academies. They have also cited 5 USC 6303 and the Vet Guide. (see excerpts below)

    “SEC. 1115. RETIREMENT SERVICE CREDIT FOR SERVICE AS CADET OR MIDSHIPMAN AT A MILITARY SERVICE ACADEMY.
    (a) CIVIL SERVICE RETIREMENT SYSTEM.-Section 8331(13) of
    title 5, United States Code, is amended by striking ”but” and
    inserting ”and includes service as a cadet at the United States Military Academy, the United States Air Force Academy, or the United States Coast Guard Academy, or as a midshipman at the United States Naval Academy, but”.
    (b) FEDERAL EMPLOYEES’ RETIREMENT SYSTEM.-Section
    8401(31) of such title is amended by striking ”but” and inserting ”and includes service as a cadet at the United States Military Academy, the United States Air Force Academy, or the United States Coast Guard Academy, or as a midshipman at the United States Naval Academy, but”.
    (c) APPLICABILITY.-The amendments made by this section shall apply to-
    (1) any annuity, eligibility for which is based upon a separation occurring before, on, or after the date of enactment of this Act; and
    (2) any period of service as a cadet at the United States
    Military Academy, the United States Air Force Academy, or
    the United States Coast Guard Academy, or as a midshipman at the United States Naval Academy, occurring before, on, or after the date of enactment of this Act.”

    5 USC 6303 Concerns Annual Leave accrual. The reference below is taken from 5 USC 6303(a) 3:

    “In determining years of service, an employee is entitled to credit for all service of a type that would be creditable under section 8332, regardless of whether or not the employee is covered by subchapter III of chapter 83, and for all service which is creditable by virtue of subsection (e).

    HOWEVER, AN EMPLOYEE WHO IS A RETIRED MEMBER of a uniformed service as defined by section 3501 of this title is entitled to credit for active military service ONLY IF –
    (A) his retirement was based on disability – (i) resulting from injury or disease received in line of duty as a direct result of armed conflict; or (ii) caused by an instrumentality of war and incurred in line of duty during a period of war as defined by sections 101 and 1101 of title 38;
    (B) that service was performed in the armed forces during a war, or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized; or
    (C) on November 30, 1964, was employed in a position to which this subchapter applies and thereafter he continued to be so employed without a break in service of more than 30 days.

    Chapter 5 of the Vet Guide is also an excellent source of information on service credit entitlements. It addresses Retired Service members specifically. Basically, if not retired based on a disability received as a direct result of armed conflict or caused by instrumentality of war and incurred in the line of duty you can only receive credit for actual periods of service during a war declared by Congress or while participation in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge is authorized. {so called “Campaign Time”}

  3. C A Says:
    August 25th, 2010 at 6:36 am

    Service Academy time SHOULD count towards the SCD date – it doesn’t yet. I’ve heard OPM will soon decide, and the law is clearly in favor of it.

    Some folks incorrectly rely upon Title 10 section 971, which states that academy time can never be used for retirement. But Title 10 is for “Military Law” and addresses the fact that service academy time cannot count towards a “military” retirement (long ago it could). It’s applicability is limited to Armed Forces retirements. Otherwise, with such a blanket statement, service academy time could never be “purchased” towards a civilian retirement (and it can).

    Title 5 addresses the law for civil service. Title 5 section 6303(a) address civilian personnel and leave accrual and states “In determining years of service, an employee is entitled to credit for all service of a type that would be creditable under section 8332.” Thus the military service time that could be credited towards retirement SHALL also count towards determining years of service, or SCD.

    Title 5 section 8331(13) specifically defines “military service” as “honorable active service… and includes service as a cadet at the United States Military Academy, the United States Air Force Academy, or the United States Coast Guard Academy, or as a midshipman at the United States Naval Academy.” By statute, military service includes time acquired at a Service Academy for purposes of section 8332.

    Title 5 section 8332(c) states: (B) the service of an individual who first becomes an employee or Member on or after October 1, 1982, shall include credit for… (ii) each period of MILITARY SERVICE performed after December 31, 1956, and before the separation on which the entitlement to annuity under this subchapter is based, only if a deposit (with interest, if any) is made with respect to that period, as provided in section 8334 (j) of this title. Congress directly addressed the issue and confirmed service academy time can be purchased towards a civil service retirement.

    Since military service under 8332 counts towards the SCD under 6303, and military service specifically includes service academy time under 8331, the SCD-leave date should account for service academy time.

    I hope OPM gets it right according to the law, and not by arbitrary decision. Otherwise it will go to the courts, which could take a long time.

  4. Paul Says:
    November 15th, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    I am in the same boat as all above and have been fighting this with my HR for well over a year. I am told a decision was to be made in mid-October but it was tabled pending more research. Common sense should apply. It either counts towards SCD or it counts towards uniformed service. I think the former (2 hours of leave per pay period) would be a lot cheaper. Best of luck to us!

  5. Bill Says:
    January 14th, 2011 at 10:18 am

    Based on the above I’ve re-initiated the fight with my HR.

    Making a decision now will save them a lot of money since, if they eventually make the right decision, they will owe a lot of ‘back’ leave and, if people have retired, actual money for that leave.

  6. Darik Says:
    January 21st, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    Paul, did you or anyone else reading this get their SCD recomputed? Being a retiree adds another level of complexity to the issue! I started the process of buying back the 47 months at the Academy and hope to get a recompute of the SCD done when that process is completed.

  7. Mika Says:
    June 15th, 2011 at 11:06 am

    I recently had this issue with my agency. I went to so far as to contact OPM, who sent me a very long email outlining that, unless you are retired and used any of the time towards retirement calculations (active duty time and obviously active duty military retirement excludes Academy time) ALL SERVICE ACADMEY TIME is creditable for leave accrual. I sent this to my agency and they changed their policy and granted my leave.
    They owe a lot of people back leave…

  8. Dan Says:
    October 4th, 2011 at 8:36 am

    Hello-

    I am an HR Specialist with the USAF at AFPC. I believe I can clear this up fpr all of you.

    Military Academy service is creditable for both retirement and leave purposes when computing service computation dates IAW with the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2008, Section 1115.

    Military Academy service includes service as a cadet at the United States Military Academy, the United States Air Force Academy, or the United States Coast Guard Academy, or as a midshipman at the United States Naval Academy. It is considered active military service for leave accrual and retirement credit purposes, regardless of whether the person graduated or was commissioned. For military retirees, their academy service is subject to the same credit limitations for leave and retirement purposes as is their other military service.

    Below are examples of acceptable documents that may be submitted to claim creditable academy service:
    * Academy Diploma/Transcripts
    *Military Orders (if any) showing dates of attendance
    *DD-214
    *Letter from military personnel office/flight showing dates of attendance

    Hope this helps,

    -D

  9. VN Says:
    November 21st, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    Academy Grads:

    I have asked the same question to my HR folks and received the below response. It is not clearcut, but at least the references are included for further research:

    Academy service time is creditable for both retirement and leave purposes as a Federal Civilian employee. Section 1115 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2008 is the applicable provision of law that makes academy service time creditable for retirement-and therefore for leave accrual purposes. Section 1115 of the NDAA amended title 5 to explicitly make academy service time creditable towards retirement. 5 United States Code (U.S.C.) 6303 (a) provides that service which is creditable for retirement purposes is creditable for determining an employee’s years of service for leave accrual purposes.

    Here is the title 5, chapter 63 reference–

    5 U.S.C. 6303 (a)-
    “. . . In determining years of service, an employee is entitled to credit for
    all service of a type that would be creditable under section 8332, regardless of whether or not the employee is covered by subchapter III of chapter 83, and for all service which is creditable by virtue of subsection (e). However, an
    employee who is a retired member of a uniformed service as defined by section 3501 of this title is entitled to credit for active military service only if–

    (A) his retirement was based on disability–
    (i) resulting from injury or disease received in line of duty as a direct result of armed conflict; or
    (ii) caused by an instrumentality of war and incurred in line of duty during a period of war as defined by sections 101 and 1101 of title 38;

    (B) that service was performed in the armed forces during a war, or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized; or

    (C) on November 30, 1964, he was employed in a position to which this subchapter applies and thereafter he continued to be so employed without a break in service of more than 30 days. . . .”

    In your case since you are retiring from the Army, unless your retirement meets A, B, or C above you would not be able to receive credit for leave accrual for your academy service.

    Information regarding service computation dates may be found at the following
    websites:
    http://www.opm.gov/feddata/gppa/gppa06.pdf
    http://www.opm.gov/oca/leave/html/annual.asp
    http://www.opm.gov/oca/leave/html/CreditableService-forAnnualLeaveAccrual.asp

    Public Law 97-253, dated Sept. 8, 1982, provided federal employees the opportunity to buy into the civil service retirement fund for military service performed after 1956.

    Mika-can you post your OPM email.

  10. RT Says:
    November 24th, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    I’ve been going back and forth with my HR for about 4 months to no avail. I broke everything down for them including all the references listed here (2008 Defense Auth Act, 5 USC 6303, etc). Their response is that my academy time on my DD214 is listed under the “Inactive Service” block; therefore it doesn’t count. I told them that time is listed as inactive because if it was listed under the Active block, it would count towards military retirement, which it cannot. I’d really like to get a contact at OPM to get this resolved for everyone once and for all.

  11. Bill Marsh Says:
    February 6th, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    RT,

    Here’s the ‘logic’ I’m using. Hope it helps because it references the OPM Personnel manual.

    1. OPM Guide to Personnel Manual, Chapter 6, subsection 1-4 establishes 5 USC 6303 as the authority for determining leave accrual stating, “Section 6303 of title 5, United States Code, sets the rules for crediting service for annual leave accrual.” Seems pretty clear to me that 10 USC 971 is NOT applicable for establishing FERS leave accrual.

    2. 5 USC 6303(a) 3: “In determining years of service, an employee is entitled to credit for all service of a type that would be creditable under section 8332 (Creditable Service), regardless of whether or not the employee is covered by subchapter III of chapter 83, and for all service which is creditable by virtue of subsection (e).

    3. 5 USC 6303(c)(1)(B)(ii) states: “each period of military service performed after December 31, 1956, and before the separation on which the entitlement to annuity under this subchapter is based, only if a deposit (with interest, if any) is made with respect to that period, as provided in section 8334 (j) of this title.

    3. Title 5, Part III, Subpart G, Chapter 83, subchapter III, para 8331(13) “military service” means honorable active service – (A) in the armed forces … (C) … and includes service as a cadet at the United States Military Academy, the United States Air Force Academy, or the United States Coast Guard Academy, or as a Midshipman at the United States Naval Academy.”

    Seems pretty clear to me that this establishes that time served while attending one of the Military Academies IS creditable for FERS leave accrual.

  12. Bill Marsh Says:
    March 13th, 2012 at 8:41 am

    An update for those interested. Yesterday OPM Leave Branch responded to my HR and stated

    “For Employee 1 Marsh, military academy time is creditable for annual leave accrual purposes. Section 1115 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 is the applicable provision of law that makes academy service time creditable for retirement—and therefore for leave accrual purposes. The law at 5 U.S.C. 8331 and 5 U.S.C. 8401 was amended to explicitly make academy service time creditable towards retirement for both CSRS and FERS employees. Service is creditable retrospectively as well as prospectively. Under 5 U.S.C. 6303(a), service which is creditable for retirement purposes is creditable for determining an employee’s years of service for leave accrual purposes. Since Sec. 1115 made this service creditable for retirement creditable retrospectively as well as prospectively, service for annual leave accrual purposes is creditable retrospectively as well as prospectively.”

    They further stated, “Based on the NDAA FY 2008 amendment, Employee 1 Marsh should be granted service credit for leave accrual purposes for his time at the military academy. His current leave balance must be adjusted to reflect the additional annual leave hours that he should have accrued.”

  13. Bill Marsh Says:
    March 14th, 2012 at 10:05 am

    Sure. I am not retired military.

    The process I went through was to go to my HR rep and explain that I thought that the SCD (Leave) date they assigned me in 2007 was in error. They queried the OPM Leave Branch and received the response I posted.

  14. R Says:
    May 14th, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    Bill Marsh,

    I was able to get my time credited for annual leave but not the way it was supposed to handled. IMO, we still have a problem at my agency on this issue. I asked if they could increase my annual leave ceiling because I was credited a lot of retro-leave but they refused stating that because I decided to make a military deposit payment for the service academy time, it was my decision to get that time creditable as ANNUAL LEAVE. Therefore, they infer that you cannot get credit for service academy time unless you make a military deposit payment. This is of course not correct. Do you have a POC at OPM my HR people can talk to? I need to push these folks in the right direction otherwise those coming behind me are going to run into a wall.

    Thanks

  15. Devin Walters Says:
    July 18th, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    Dan from USAF AFPC, If you are still there at Randolph, can you inform the rest of the folks on your interpretation. It is AFPC that says that becasue I am a retiree, I can not get the leave accrual. They stick by this interpretation and will not forward the request to OPM. If you are willing, what is your contact information

  16. Chris Conklin Says:
    November 13th, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    Unfortunately, I’m a military retiree and this is the response I just received from OPM on the leave SCD issue..I think the rub (and the confusion) is because I’m in a retired status. If I had military service but didn’t serve long enough to retire, my impression is that the 4 years at the service academy would count towards the leave SCD…but the law is different – and more restrictive – for retirees…
    “You asked whether, as a military retiree, your military academy service time is creditable for leave accrual purposes. You stated that your academy service time is not creditable to your military retirement and that you are making a military service deposit to credit your academy service time for your civilian retirement. We are aware that military academy service is not credited toward a member’s military retirement. However, that has no bearing on this issue. The reason that a retired member of the uniformed service cannot receive credit for academy service time towards his or her annual leave accrual rate is that the law does not allow it. The law governing service credit for annual leave accrual purposes at 5 U.S.C. 6303(a) differentiates between non-retired and retired members of the uniformed service. A retired member of a uniformed service like you is entitled to, by law, limited military service credit as listed in 5 U.S.C. 6303(a)(A-C)— However, an employee who is a retired member of a uniformed service as defined by section 3501 of this title is entitled to credit for active military service only if— (A) his retirement was based on disability— (i) resulting from injury or disease received in line of duty as a direct result of armed conflict; or (ii) caused by an instrumentality of war and incurred in line of duty during a period of war as defined by sections 101 and 1101 of title 38; (B) that service was performed in the armed forces during a war, or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized; or (C) on November 30, 1964, he was employed in a position to which this subchapter applies and thereafter he continued to be so employed without a break in service of more than 30 days. As explained above, there is therefore no legal authority to grant retired members of the uniformed service any credit for their military service, including academy service time, for leave accrual purposes unless the employee meets one or more of the requirements outlined in 5 U.S.C. 6303(a)(A-C). Thank you.

  17. John Kirkwood Says:
    December 6th, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    For those of you still battling this issue, there is hope. I have the SF50 to prove it.

    I am a USAFA grad, spent 7 years, 1 month on active duty and then separated. Began federal employment (Army) in early 2010 and was told that my academy time could not be used for my SCD.

    I took HR at their word and didn’t give it much more thought until I began seeing websites like this when I was researching my military buyback for retirement (I was also successful buying all 11 years). I explained this to my HR office and provided them with a link to this page as well as a cut/paste of the OPM response seen in comment 12.

    My HR said that they reviewed the available guidance, consulted others, and determined I was correct. However, they required a letter from the registrar with dates and type of separation or a DD214 FOR ACADEMY TIME (the only one I have only shows dates for my officer period and “prior inactive service” for USAFA time.

    I referred HR to the transcript in my file which shows dates and indicates that I was graduated/commissioned. HR accepted that. So, from start to finish, it took about four weeks for me to get this correction. I greatly appreciate the help and insight from this blog.

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