When you work for the federal government, there’s a standard answer to most questions: It all depends. That’s especially true when you want to know if there’s a difference between creditable service for annual leave accrual and creditable service for retirement.

As a rule, service which is creditable for retirement purposes is creditable for determining an employee’s years of service for annual leave accrual purposes. However, the law differentiates between non-retired and retired members of the uniformed service. A retired member of a uniformed service is entitled to limited military service credit only if:

(A) that 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 or she was employed in a position to which this subchapter applies and thereafter continued to be so employed without a break in service of more than 30 days.

While I’m on the subject, I want to clear up a long-standing bit of confusion about the creditability of military service academy time. OPM long held that such time was creditable but it wasn’t made explicit until passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2008.

However, while academy service time is creditable for annual leave accrual purposes for non-retired members of the uniformed service, it isn’t creditable for retired members of the uniformed service unless the employee meets one or more of the requirements outlined above.