We live in a world where dates seem to control our lives: birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, days when bills or taxes are due, etc. So I thought it would be a good idea to remind you of some of the most important ones for you as a federal employee.

Age and Service Dates

I’ll start by mentioning the two that determine when you can retire: your birthday and your service computation date. The first determines when you are old enough to retire, for example, 55 or your minimum retirement age (MRA). The second determines when you have enough years of creditable service to retire on an immediate annuity, for example 30.

In order to retire, you must meet the age and service requirements for your particular retirement system. While it’s easy enough to determine if you are old enough to retire, your service computation date – or SCD – can vary. If you have an unbroken employment history, you can start counting forward from the day that you first entered on duty. However, if you are entitled to credit for active duty military service it can be earlier than that. Or it might be later if you had one or more breaks in service.   

Military Service Dates

Whether you will have to make a deposit to the civil service retirement system to get credit for your active duty military service will depend on two dates: when you served and the when you were first employed by the government.

 

If you served on active duty in the military before December 31, 1956, you won’t have to make a deposit to get credit for that time in determining your eligibility to retire or in your annuity computation. However, if you served on or after January 1, 1957, whether you have to make a deposit will depend on the date on which you were first employed by the federal government.

If you were first hired on or after October 1, 1982, you’ll have to make a deposit to the retirement system to get credit for that service. However, if you were first employed before October 1, 1982, you have a choice, but it’s one you need to make with care. You can either make a deposit for that time or decide not to do so.

If you don’t make a deposit, retire, and aren’t eligible for a Social Security benefit at age 62 (or at retirement if you retire after your 62nd birthday), you’ll get full credit for that period of military service. On the other hand, if you don’t make a deposit, retire, and are eligible for a Social Security benefit at either of those points in time, those years of military service will be dropped and your annuity recomputed downward.

Note: Because OPM only checks once with the Social Security Administration, if you are retired and ineligible for a Social Security benefit at age 62 (or when you retire if it’s later than that), OPM won’t check again.