Military Credit Under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS)
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is military service creditable for retirement under FERS?
A: Yes, military service in the Armed Forces of the United States is creditable for Federal Employees Retirement System and death benefit purposes only if:
Some military service is only creditable if a deposit is paid. See: Do I have to pay a deposit for my military service after December 31, 1956?
Q: I was previously covered under CSRS. Will my military service be credited under CSRS or FERS rules?
A: Military service is credited under FERS rules if:
Military service performed before the date of transfer may be credited under CSRS rules if the employee has a CSRS portion in his or her FERS retirement benefit. A FERS transferee has a CSRS annuity component if he or she had 5 or more years of civilian service creditable under CSRS rules (not counting CSRS Offset or Interim service) at the time of transfer.
Q: Is my service with the National Guard creditable?
A: Service in the National Guard, except when ordered to active duty in the service of the United States, is generally not creditable. You may receive credit for National Guard service, followed by Federal civilian reemployment that occurs after August 1, 1990, when all of the following conditions are met:
Q: Can I receive credit for my Reserve time?
A: You may be eligible to receive credit for a portion of your reserve service. Training of members of service components is accomplished through weekly or bi-weekly reserve duty training sessions, for which a reservist receives pay but not allowances. These sessions are reserve duty since the reservist is not called to active duty and are therefore not creditable for retirement purposes. Inactive service in the various reserve components of the armed forces is also not creditable for civil service retirement purposes.
Although the weekly and biweekly training sessions are reserve duty and not creditable, the annual 15-day training camp or cruise which reservists are called upon to attend (and for which they receive pay and allowances) is active duty and, therefore, creditable for retirement purposes.
Q: How much credit will I receive for my service?
A: In general, employees are given a day's credit for each day from the date of entry on active duty and through the date of separation from the military service.
Some military discharges show two entry dates--an "enlisted or inducted date" and an "active duty date." For crediting purposes, "active duty date" is always used as the beginning date of the active duty period. Any "Lost time" (AWOL, for example) is not creditable service and must be subtracted from total service.
Q: How do I obtain proof of my creditable active duty time?
A: Service in the Armed Forces is documented on the DD form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty. This form shows the dates or total amount of active duty and the type of discharge or separation. If you do not have a copy of this form, you should obtain it by completing Standard Form 180, Request Pertaining to Military Records.
Q: How will my military service performed before 1957 be credited?
A: When you retire you will receive credit for military service performed prior to January 1, 1957, without making any deposit. In addition, you will not have your annuity recomputed at age 62 even if you become eligible for Social Security benefits.
Q: Can both OPM and SSA use my pre-1957 military service to compute benefits since I don’t have to pay a deposit for it?
A: Military service performed before January 1, 1957 is generally credited toward civil service retirement rather than Social Security entitlement. Military service performed before January 1, 1957, is creditable for Social Security only if credit is not being given for the same service under another retirement system. SSA cannot use military service before January 1, 1957, under their system if a benefit under FERS is based in part on the same period of military service. Employees have no choice in this regard. If you are entitled to a civil service annuity, military service before January 1, 1957, must be used for civil service retirement purposes and cannot be credited toward Social Security benefits.
Q: Do I have to pay a military deposit for my active duty service after December 31, 1956?
A: The answer depends on whether or not your military service will be credited under CSRS or FERS rules. All post-1956 military service must be covered by a deposit to receive credit under FERS rules. Even if you were first hired in a position subject to retirement deductions before October 1, 1982, your post-1956 military service cannot be credited unless the required deposit is completed.
Your military service is credited under FERS rules if:
Transferee With a CSRS Annuity Component
If your military service was performed before the date you transferred to FERS, it may be credited under CSRS rules if you have a CSRS annuity component in your FERS retirement benefit.
A FERS transferee has a CSRS annuity component if he or she had 5 or more years of civilian service creditable under CSRS rules (not counting CSRS Offset or Interim service) at the time of transfer.
Q: Is it beneficial to pay the deposit if I plan to retire on disability?
A: It may benefit you to pay your military deposit, even though the amount of your disability benefit may not be immediately affected by the inclusion or exclusion of your military service. Since FERS disability annuities are recomputed at age 62 to reflect an amount that represents the annuity you would have received had you continued working until the day before your sixty-second birthday and then retired under FERS nondisability provisions, including your military service at age 62, may entitle you to a higher annuity benefit. If you are considering retiring under disability, you should request that your benefits specialist compute estimates with and without your military service to see the impact that paying the deposit could have on your future benefits. This is especially important because it will not be possible to make a deposit for such service at the time the recomputation is made.
Q: Can I pay the deposit as a reemployed annuitant?
A: If you are reemployed in a position subject to FERS retirement coverage, you can pay the deposit, however, you should consider the following:
Before you decide to make your deposit, ask your benefits specialist for information about how a recomputation will affect your annuity.
Q: How is the deposit computed?
A: A FERS military deposit is 3% of the basic pay you received during the period of active duty military service plus interest. Military basic pay does not include allowances, flight pay, combat pay, etc.
Note (1): The military deposit percentages of basic pay are slightly higher for military service that occurred in the years 1999 and 2000 because there was a temporary increase in retirement deductions for those years.
Note (2): If your military service interrupted Federal civilian employment, and you were reemployed under the provisions of chapter 43 of title 38, United States Code on or after August 1, 1990, your military deposit will be the lesser of:
3% of your military basic pay, or
The retirement deductions that would have been withheld from your Federal civilian pay if you had remained in that position during your period of military service.
Q: How can I obtain my estimated earnings?
A: You can use OPM Form RI 20-97, Request for Estimated Earnings during Military Service, to obtain your earnings from the military. You must complete the form and attach a copy of your DD Form 214 for the period of service and any available records of pay and promotions. Send the form to the appropriate branch of service at the address shown on the back of the form.
Q: How can I avoid paying interest on the deposit?
A: You can avoid paying, or lessen the impact of interest on your deposit by paying the deposit in full early in your Federal civilian career.
Q: When does the interest begin to accrue?
A: If you were first employed prior to January 1, 1987, interest started to accrue January 1, 1989.
If you were first employed on or after January 1, 1987, interest started to accrue 2 years from the date you were first employed subject to FERS.
If your military service was performed after your date of first employment and after January 1, 1987, interest started to accrue 2 years from the date you returned to a position subject to FERS.
For employees who elected FERS coverage (and do not have a CSRS portion to their benefit), interest began accruing 2 years after the date of transfer.
Q: Can I receive a refund of my deposit?
A: In most instances the answer is, No. As an employee, your deposit cannot be refunded to you. However, if you separate from service before becoming eligible for retirement, and apply for a refund of all retirement deductions, your deposit for military service will be included in the refund.
If you have not completed your deposit payments by the time you separate for retirement, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) will automatically refund your incomplete deposit when it processes your application for retirement benefits.
If you have more than one period of military service and the partial deposit will pay for one or more full periods of military service only the excess above that amount will be returned to you.
Q: If I take a refund of my deposit, will I be allowed to repay it in the future?
A: No. Unlike CSRS employees, if a FERS employee separates from Federal service and receives a refund of contributions and deposits or redeposits made to the Fund, he or she does not have a right to pay back the post-1956 military service credit deposit.
Q: Can I receive retirement credit for my military service while receiving Military Retired Pay?
A: The answer depends on the type of retired pay you are receiving. If you are an employee receiving military retired pay that bars credit for military service, you can elect to waive your military retired pay and have the military service added to your civilian service.
If you do not waive your military retired pay, your retirement rights (and those of your surviving spouse, if any) will be based on your civilian service only and military service will not be included in computing your annuity. You may then receive both your military retired pay and your civil service annuity at the same time.
You will not have to waive your military retired pay if it was awarded:
1. On account of a service-connected disability incurred in combat with an enemy of the United States; or
2. On account of a service-connected disability caused by an instrumentality of war and incurred in the line of duty during a period of war; or
Q: How do I pay the deposit?
A: Follow these simple steps:
Q: Can I pay the deposit to OPM when I retire?
A: No. Your deposit for military service must be made before you separate for retirement. It cannot be made to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management when you retire.
Q: How can I get more information?
A: Contact your servicing personnel office for additional information about making a post-1956 military service deposit.
Military Buyback Program
AFGE LOCAL 3571