By Reg Jones
Q: Is military active duty for training time creditable toward total years of civilian service for retirement purposes under the Civil Service Retirement System or Federal Employees Retirement System? If so, has it always been that way? If it has not always been that way, when did it change? Please include any relevant law or regulation.
A: You’ll find what you’re looking for on the Office of Personnel Management website here.
Q: If I buy back my active-duty military time to put it toward my Federal Employees Retirement System retirement, do I then lose that time toward my Navy Reserve retirement?
A: No. Making a deposit for your period(s) of active-duty service will have no affect on reserve retired pay. You’ll get full credit for that time.
Q: I have 31 years in the Army, six years of which is active duty, and I’m still on reserve status. I’ve been working at a Veterans Affairs Department hospital for more than 20 years and plan to stay there until I have 30 years of service. I’m presently buying back the six years of active-duty time, and it is going to cost $12,000. First of all, is it worth it for me to buy back this time? I have heard when you retire from the federal government, you will only get either your federal retirement with your active-duty buyback time added, or you will get your military retirement, but not both. I am wondering if it is in my best interest to buy back this active-duty time, and if I do, will I get both my Army Reserve retirement and my federal retirement, or just one of those two? If I only get one, how to I figure out which one to take?
A: It will be easier for you to make a decision after I clear up a misunderstanding: Making a deposit to get credit for your years of active-duty service in you civilian annuity won’t have any affect on your Army Reserve retired pay. You’ll be able to receive both benefits without a reduction in either of them.
Q: I served two dependent-restricted tours in South Korea (1988-1989 and 2001-2002). I retired from the Army in 2006. I now work for the Army as a civilian. Does the time I spent in Korea count toward leave accrual? For example, I accrue four hours of annual and sick leave per pay period. Would that time allow me to accrue six hours per pay period, and would I get that credit from the time I began my federal civilian service in March 2009?
A: No, it wouldn’t. For retired members of the military, leave accrual credit is only given for actual service during a war declared by Congress (includes World War II covering the period Dec. 7, 1941, to April 28, 1952) or while participating in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge is authorized.
Q: I need to know any rules, regulations or laws that cover the service computation date. I am prior military with more than 20 years of total service and 10 years of active-duty service, and my agency is not taking that time into consideration for leave purposes.
A: The Office of Personnel Management has a VetGuide that will answer your question. Scroll down to “Service Credit for Leave Rate Accrual and Retirement.”
Q: I just read an article about the 2010 Defense Authorization Act, and it speaks of allowing employees under the Federal Employees Retirement System to redeposit. I took a refund of $1,600 and lost 13 years of military time for retirement under the FERS system because redeposit was not allowed. I understand this new law authorizes FERS employees to redeposit for civil service time. Does it allow for redeposit for military time?
A: No, it doesn’t.
June 9th, 2010 | RETIREMENT
Q: I was retired medically from the Army with less than 20 years of service. My health improved enough for me to work at the U.S. Postal Service. I was then called back to active duty to complete my 20 years of service, serving an additional three years and eight months. I returned to the USPS in 2005. I retired from the Army with a military pension and Veterans Affairs Department disability of 50 percent. Can I still receive my military pension and VA disability and buy back only those years I returned to active duty to get credit for those years for federal retirement?
A: Because you are receiving military retired pay based on an active-duty career in the armed forces, your only option would be to make a deposit for all your periods of active duty service and, at retirement, waive your military retired pay.
May 18th, 2010 | Annual leave
Q: I am a federal employee working under the Federal Employees Retirement System. I have served approximately 7.5 years on active military duty, either as an active-duty soldier or as a reservist activated under Title 10.
I have bought back the 7.5 years of military time. In doing so, am I entitled to receive the equivalent of annual leave time that I would have received had I been employed with the federal government? If so, will it be calculated at a rate of four hours per pay period or the six hours that I am currently accruing?
A: Accordng to the Office of Personnel Management: “For nonretired members, full credit for uniformed service (including active duty and active duty for training) performed under honorable conditions is given for annual leave accrual purposes.”
April 29th, 2010 | Creditable service: FERS
Q: I have eight years of active-duty service and 10 years with the reserves. What part of that time counts toward the Federal Employees Retirement System? I was also recalled to active duty for an eight-month period and want to know whether I can add all this time.
A: Your active-duty service in the armed forces will only count if you make a deposit to the civilian retirement fund. You have already received credit for any two-week periods of annual active duty for training, which for leave purposes have been treated as if you were still on the job. Reserve time, other than when called to active duty, isn’t creditable for any purpose.
Q: I am a firefighter under the Federal Employees Retirement System holding a secondary position with a service computation date of 2003. I retired from the Air Force after 20 years of military service. I have a number of questions.
Would it be prudent for me to buy back my military time, which would allow me to retire early from civil service?
If I do buy back my military time and retire, would I lose my military retirement check?
Part of my retirement is a 40 percent service-connected disability from the Veterans Affairs Department. The other half is from the Air Force. Do I lose my disability payment?
Would I gain or lose money by buying back the time?
A: If you were to make a deposit for your 20 years of active duty, you would also have to waive your military retired pay; however, your VA disability benefits would not be affected. That period of service would not count toward the 20 years of covered service needed for you to retire under the special provision for law enforcement officers, firefighters or air traffic controllers. It would instead count as regular FERS service, and when you finally retired, it would be calculated using the standard formula. Whether making a deposit for that time would be a prudent one is one for you to decide based on how much you’d need to deposit versus what you’d get in return.