Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

National Guard service and military time

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Q. I joined the Illinois National Guard on Dec. 23, 1981. I served boot camp time only from May 10, 1982, to June 25, 1982. I started getting blisters under my feet due to the boots and received a medical honorable discharge July 23, 1982. I have seven months of time.

Can the seven months be applied as military time for retirement?

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Retirement at MRA with 30-plus years

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Q. I am 53 with 30-plus years of excepted civil service with the National Guard. I believe my MRA is 56. At age 56, can I voluntarily retire with no penalties? Could I voluntarily retire early?

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Military and federal service and retirement

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Q. I am on active duty. If I leave active duty and buy back my time to work at another federal job and at the same time do time with a National Guard component, will I be eligible to receive two retirements once I turn the right age?

A. If you work for the federal government, you can make a deposit to get credit for that time. If you are eligible for reserve retired pay, you can receive that pay and the annuity of your civilian position. If you are eligible for military retired pay, you’ll have to waive that pay.

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Active duty, guard and buyback for federal civilian service

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Q. I have completed 10 years of active-duty service and 11 years in the National Guard (I am still in the guard). I have been employed by the Department of Labor (GS12/FERS) for the last 10 years. I bought back my 10 years of active-duty service. My questions are:

1. Was I eligible to buy back my 10 years of active duty, seeing as how I can now retire from the guard?

2. If I am eligible, does that mean I have 20 years with the Department of Labor (10 active plus 10 in the department itself)?

A. 1) Yes, you were eligible to make a deposit to get credit for your active-duty service, and doing so would have no effect on your entitlement to retired pay from the National Guard. 2) Having made a deposit for your active duty means that you now have 20 years of creditable civilian service.

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Applying National Guard time to federal time

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Q. I was on extended duty for the reserves. It was active duty, Green ID card-title 10 with the National Guard. Can I apply that time to my current federal time for annual leave purposes? If so, what form should I use?

A. National Guard service isn’t creditable for any federal civilian purpose unless you were called to active duty in the service of the United States. Your agency will have to determine if any of your service is creditable by following the procedures in www.opm.gov/retire/pubs/handbook/C022.pdf.

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FERS disability

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Q. I am a FERS employee (position requires I be a member of the Army National Guard) with 23 years of service; I will be receiving a physical health assessment with the National Guard in April and I anticipate being discharged because I have lost the vision in my right eye due to an accident while in military training. I assume I will qualify for FERS disability retirement and I read that I must also apply for Social Security disability. If the Social Security does not approve my disability, can I still receive the FERS disability retirement?

A. Yes.

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Dropping FEHB for Tricare

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Q. Is it within the rules to drop the Federal Employees Health Benefits plan and start Tricare Prime when I turn 60? I am an eligible National Guard retiree with 30-plus years. Tricare Prime is a fraction of the cost of my FEHB HMO.

A. Yes. According to the Office of Personnel Management, Tricare- and CHAMPVA-eligible FEHB Program annuitants, survivors and former spouses may suspend their FEHB enrollments, and then return to the FEHB Program during the open season, or return to FEHB coverage immediately if they involuntarily lose this non-FEHB coverage. This allows eligible beneficiaries to avoid the expense of continuing to pay FEHB premiums while they are using the non-FEHB coverage, without endangering their ability to return to the FEHB Program in the future.

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National Guard

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Q. I am about to retire from federal service. From 1969 to 1976, I served in the Air National Guard and the Coast Guard Reserve. When I joined the guard, I spent six months in training. Does that time count toward my federal service time?

A. It does count if you were called to active duty. If it is creditable, it should be reflected in your service computation date. If it isn’t, you’ll need to check with your personnel office, which can get in touch with the Air National Guard to determine if the time is creditable.

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Creditable service

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Q: I have been on active-duty orders for the West Virginia National Guard since Nov. 8, 2009, in order to support the Defense Critical Infrastructure Program (DCIP) and the Critical Infrastructure Protection-Mission Assessments (CIP-MAAs). This executive order is the Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD) – 7. I am not in direct support of OEF, however, we provide domestic security duty. Can this period of time be credited toward my federal law enforcement career, which is now on hold?

A: It will depend on the nature of the orders that led to your being called to active duty. You’ll need to share that information with your civilian agency, which can check with OPM to determine if it qualifies. If it does, your time on active duty will be fully creditable toward your federal law enforcement career once you return to your civilian job.

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Buybacks

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Q: I was in the National Guard from January, 1970 until January, 1976. I was only on active duty for six months then; the rest of the 5 ½ years were weekends and two weeks a year on active duty. Can I buy any of that time back?

A: Only the six months that you were on active duty.

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National Guard employment and fed annuity

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Q: I’m over 50 years old and in a Federal Employees Retirement System law enforcement position with more than 22 years of 6(c) covered time. I am considering retirement. I also have more than 30 years in the National Guard and will draw a reserve retirement before age 60. Once I am retired and receiving my federal annuity, can I then accept a GS-grade position with the National Guard without affecting my annuity?

A: No.

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National Guard and federal retirement

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Q: I served eight years on active duty in the Army and then went into the National Guard. While in the National Guard, I began working for the federal government. I bought back the eight years of service in the Army and plan to draw a federal pension as well as a National Guard retirement. Will either retirement offset the other?

A: No, there wouldn’t be any reduction. You’d get the full amount of each retirement benefit.

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Reservist retirement and federal employment

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Q: Will I have to retire from my federal job with Customs and Border Patrol with a medical retirement from the National Guard? I was called up for military duty. I bought back eight years of military service and have seven years with CBP for a total of 15 years.

A: As a rule, medical retirement from the National Guard would have no bearing on your employment by the Customs and Border Patrol. It would only affect that employment if your medical condition were such that it made you unable to provide useful and efficient service there.

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Basic, advance training time

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Q: I was a member of the New Jersey National Guard for about a year and later joint the active duty Army. I made a deposit for my active duty time. Can I get credit for the time I spend on active duty for basic and advance individual training as a member of the National Guard.

A: No, you cannot get credit for that time.

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Military, civilian retirement

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Q: I am on medical retirement from the National Guard. Do I have to retire from my federal job?

A: A: If you are a military reserve technician who is required to maintain a specific military grade in order to continue in your civilian employment, the answer is yes.

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Returning to service after combat injury

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Q: I am currently in the California Army National Guard and am 99 percent sure I will be medically discharged after being in for over 32 years. I only have 15 years as a dual-status military technician. I am hearing that soldiers who have returned from Iraq or Afghanistan with “combat-related injuries” are being told that they cannot keep their jobs as it is intended by the change in the law governing the requirement to be a member of the National Guard. Can you point me in the direction of someone that can help? Reference: Title 10 USC 10216 (g), 1413a

A: All I can do is reiterate what the law says. In Title 10 of the U.S. Code, section 10216 (g) clearly states: Retention of Military Technicians Who Lose Dual Status Due to Combat-Related Disability —  (1) Notwithstanding subsection (d) of this section or subsections (a)(3) and (b) of section 10218 of this title, if a military technician (dual status) loses such dual status as the result of a combat-related disability (as defined in section 1413a of this title), the person may be retained as a non-dual status technician so long as —  (A) the combat-related disability does not prevent the person from performing the non-dual status functions or position; and (B) the person, while a non-dual status technician, is not disqualified from performing the non-dual status functions or position because of performance, medical, or other reasons. (2) A person so retained shall be removed not later than 30 days after becoming eligible for an unreduced annuity and becoming 60 years of age.

You’ll notice that the law makes clear that such a person can be retained only if the combat-related disability doesn’t prevent the employee from performing the non-dual status functions or is disqualified from performing them because of performance, medical or other reasons. That judgment is one that must be made by the employer and properly documented.

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No offset to Guard retirement

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Q: I am a federal firefighter (GS-0081). Prior to entering federal civilian service, I was on active duty in the Army for seven years and I am currently a National Guardsman. I will retire from the National Guard in three years. If I choose to buy back the seven years of active-duty time for my Federal Employees Retirement System retirement, will I have to forfeit the National Guard retirement or that portion of the National Guard retirement?

A: No — if you make a deposit for your active-duty time, you won’t have to forfeit any part of your National Guard retirement benefit.

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