One often overlooked benefit that federal retirees might be eligible to receive involves Social Security credit for time spent in military service. The earnings of people who serve in the military services on active duty or on active duty for training have been covered under Social Security since 1957. Inactive duty service in the armed forces reserves (such as weekend drills) has been covered by Social Security since 1988.

People who served in the military before 1957 did not pay into Social Security directly, but their records are credited with special earnings for Social Security purposes that count toward any benefits that might be payable. Additional earnings credits are given to military personnel depending on when they served.

Social Security taxes for military service since 1957 have been paid in the same way as for civilian employees. Those taxes were deducted from your military pay and an equal amount paid by the government as your employer. You earned Social Security credits in the same way as well. Thus, past military service time may qualify you for Social Security benefits if you are a CSRS employee with relatively little time under the Social Security system.

If you are a FERS or CSRS-Offset employee, the military-related Social Security time could increase the Social Security benefit you already stand to receive. In either case, be sure that military service time is included in any benefit payments if you are already retired or benefit projections if you are still actively employed.