If you honorably served in the armed forces, is that service creditable for federal employment purposes and, if so, for which purpose and how? Scarcely a week goes by when someone doesn’t ask me that.
Although I’ve frequently answered the question in these columns, it seems it’s time to write about it again, and to be as comprehensive as possible. This week I’ll focus on employees who have served on active duty but who did not retire from the military.
So that we’re all on the same page, I’ll start with a definition of honorable active duty service. It includes uniformed service in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, the regular Corps or Reserve Corps of the Public Health Service, and as a commissioned officer of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Other creditable service includes attendance as a Midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy and as a Cadet at either U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Air Force Academy, or the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.
Post-1956 military service – not retired military
• Leave accrual: If you are a non-retired member of the armed forces, you get full credit for active duty service performed before taking a job in the federal government. The same is true if you are called to active duty in the service of the United States. On the other hand, no credit is given for weekend duty or annual active duty for training. That’s because you are treated as if you were still on the job for those two weeks.
• Retirement credit: If you are a CSRS employee who was first employed before October 1, 1982, you can either make a deposit for any period of active duty service or decide not to make it.
If you retire before age 62, are eligible for a Social Security benefit at age 62, and don’t make a deposit to get credit for that service, it will be eliminated and your annuity recomputed without it. If you retire after reaching age 62 and are eligible for a Social Security benefit, the reduction will occur on the day you retire.
If you are a CSRS employee who was first hired after September 30, 1982, you’ll have to make a deposit to get credit for that time.
The amount of the deposit equals 7 percent of your basic military pay (not including allowances or differentials) for any active duty service before January 1, 1999. The deposit for service during 1999 is 7.25 percent, during 2000, 7.4 percent, and after December 31, 2000, it’s back to 7 percent.
If you are a FERS employee, you don’t have a choice. To get credit for any period of active duty, you’ll have to make a deposit for that time. The deposit equals 3 percent of your basic military pay prior to January 1, 1999. In 1999 it’s 3.25, in 2000, 3.40 percent and after December 31, 2000, it’s back to 3 percent.
Next week I’ll go over the rules for retired members of the armed forces.