Reg Jones Expert's View

West Point Class of 2024 R-Day 3 (Army Photo by CDT Angeline Tritschler)

Reg Jones

I had thought the fact that federal employees who attended one of the military service academies were entitled to get credit for that time for both federal retirement and leave accrual purposes was a long-settled matter. Apparently not, since several readers have recently experienced difficulty in getting that credit.

The entitlement to credit for retirement purposes was settled with the passage of the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act. Section 1115 explicitly made service academy time creditable for retirement—and, by extension, leave accrual. And it made that service creditable both retrospectively and prospectively.

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Unfortunately, the act didn’t explicitly mention leave accrual. For that reason, many personnel offices refused to give that credit for academy service. Hoping to settle the matter, OPM later explained that “since academy service time is creditable for retirement purposes, it is creditable for purposes of determining an employee’s annual leave service credit date.”

Still, some federal agency officials don’t seem to have gotten the message, and readers have come to me asking for something in law they can cite. To erase any doubt, here is the pertinent text of 5 U.S.C. 6303 (a), which also makes clear that such credit for military service academy time does not apply to military retirees unless they meet one of four conditions:

. . . In determining years of service, an employee is entitled to credit for all service of a type that would be creditable under section 8332, regardless of whether or not the employee is covered by subchapter III of chapter 83, and for all service which is creditable by virtue of subsection (e). However, an employee who is a retired member of a uniformed service as defined by section 3501 of this title is entitled to credit for active military service only if–
(A) his 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 was employed in a position to which this subchapter applies and thereafter he continued to be so employed without a break in service of more than 30 days. . . .

Note: The restrictions applying to employees who are entitled to military retired pay don’t apply to employees who are entitled to reserve retired pay. If they have attended a service academy, they can also get credit for that time in determining their leave accrual rate.

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Fact or Fiction: Retirement Credit for Military Service

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FERS Retirement Bundle: 2020 FERS Guide & TSP Handbook