Expert's View

Elaine Lumsden

We hear the term Service Computation Date (SCD) but exactly what is it and how is it calculated?  Let’s start with what is a service computation date.  A service computation date is a date, either a start date or one that is arrived at, that is used to credit time that counts towards 1) accrual of leave, 2) time that counts towards your retirement eligibility, or 3) time used when computing your retirement.

Leave SCD
Your Leave SCD is the date you can see in item 31 on your SF-50, Notification of Personnel Action, or on your leave and earnings statement.  It is used to determine when you will begin to earn 6 or 8 hours of annual instead of 4, unless in a position subject to a different pay system.

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This SCD will include all creditable civilian service, regardless of retirement contribution withholding or making a deposit or not.

For leave purposes time credited includes:  a day of work is a day of credit; breaks in service of 3 days or less are credited; periods of leave-without-pay while collecting OWCP; periods of absence while on military service; and leave-without-pay as long as it does not exceed 6 months per calendar year.  Active military service, with an honorable discharge, also counts towards leave accrual.  If service was performed in the Reserves, it would only include active duty for training but not weekly or monthly assemblies or drills. Generally, for individuals receiving retired military pay, military service is not included unless qualified for one of the three exceptions.

Retirement SCD
For your Retirement SCD, there can actually be two dates, one used for eligibility purposes and another for retirement computation.

For CSRS eligibility purposes, all civilian service counts whether a deposit or redeposit has been made.  However, for computation purposes, any deposit service performed prior to October 1, 1982, will be used in the computation and the annuity will be reduced 10% of the total owed (total owed includes amount that would have be deposited into the retirement fund plus interest) which is a permanent reduction for life.

Also, under CSRS, for deposit service on or after October 1, 1982, the time will not be included in the computation unless the deposit is satisfied.  For CSRS employees whose non-disability annuity commences on or after December 2, 1990, and who retires owing a redeposit for civilian service that ended before October 1, 1990, a redeposit will not be required and the annuity will be actuarially reduced.  All employees who received a refund for service ending on or after October 1, 1990, must pay a redeposit to OPM to receive credit for the refunded service in the computation of the annuity.

FERS requires a deposit for any civilian deposit service performed prior to January 1, 1989, for that period to count for either eligibility or computation purposes.

If there is FERS redeposit service – this is time for which the individual worked under FERS, left Federal service and took a refund of the FERS contributions, then returns to Federal service – a redeposit is required for the time to count in the computation. If no redeposit is made, the time will only count towards retirement eligibility (not your annuity).  In order for it to count in the annuity computation, the redeposit of the previously refunded monies plus interest must be satisfied prior to final adjudication of the annuity.  The same holds true for military service as it also requires a deposit for the time to count in the FERS retirement SCD, and again that deposit would have to be made prior to retirement.

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Example:
Athena began working under FERS in a seasonal position April 14, 1988, until she was converted to Career Conditional January 4, 1989.

Here, she can make a deposit for her seasonal time of April 14, 1988 through December 31, 1988.  Any time after 1988 there is no opportunity to make a deposit for civilian service.  Peace Corps and VISTA service deposits are permitted no matter when that service was performed.

In this example, here are her different SCDs:

Leave SCD:  April 14, 1988

Retirement SCD without making service deposit:  January 4, 1989

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Retirement SCD with making service deposit:  April 17, 1988 (as current rules apply, she cannot make a deposit for the three days she worked in 1989)

If Athena had two years of Honorable active military service, here are her SCDs:

Leave SCD:  April 14, 1986

Retirement SCD without making either service deposit:  January 4, 1989

Retirement SCD making civilian service deposit but not military:  April 17, 1988

Retirement SCD making both service deposits:  April 17, 1986

Note:  When considering making civilian or military service deposits, remember the deposits are made based on the salary rates when earned but the benefit derived will be based on the high-3 average salary in the future when your annuity computation is calculated.

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The author retired after 32 years federal service working in retirement, benefits and OWCP, and later gave retirement and benefit seminars throughout the US, Europe and Asia.

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