“Can I get credit for active duty service in the armed forces and have it used in determining my length of service and in my annuity computation?” That’s a frequently asked question. And it’s one for which the answer is, “Yes, you can, if that service ended under honorable conditions and was performed before you retire from your civilian job.”

FYI. The term “armed forces” includes the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. It also covers service in the Armed Forces’ military academies, Regular or Reserve Corps of the Public Health Service, and as a commissioned officer of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The rules on crediting active duty service depend on whether you are entitled to military retired pay or reserve retired pay. If you aren’t either receiving or eligible for retired pay, in most cases all you’ll have to do is make a deposit to get credit for that service.

Reserve retired pay
If you are (or will be) receiving reserve retired pay under the provisions of Chapter 67, Title 10, U.S. Code, you can continue to receive that pay and get credit for any periods of active duty service by making a deposit to the civilian retirement system. Note: Reserve time is never considered to be creditable service for retirement purposes. Nor is annual active duty for training (what the military calls “ANACDUTRA”), unless it was performed before you became a federal employee.

Military retired pay
If you are (or will be) receiving military retired pay, the rules are different. When you retire from your civilian job, you can only continue to receive that pay and get credit for your active duty service in your civilian annuity computation if you
• were awarded it for a service-connected disability incurred in combat with an enemy of the United States or caused by an instrumentality of war and incurred in combat in the line of duty during a period of war, and
• make a deposit to the civilian retirement system for that period of service.

If you don’t qualify for that exception, you have a choice. You can either make a deposit to the civilian retirement system and waive your military retired pay when you retire from your civilian job or you can keep that pay and have your annuity based solely on your civilian service. It’s purely a financial decision on your part.

Next time I’ll explain the rules governing the making of a deposit to get credit for active duty service and how they apply to you.