Q: I retired from the Army with 23 years of service. I am currently receiving VA disability compensation for 90 percent disability (tied to service during combat as well as peace time). I am also receiving my Army retirement and a portion of that is under the concurrent receipt of benefits due to line of duty injuries. I am considering a GS 15 billet but am not sure what my alternatives are for retirement and my military retirement. Would I give up my entire military retirement or just the portion not concurrent receipt related? How do they calculate how much I would have to pay into the civilian retirement system to be credited for my Army time?
A: To get credit for your period of active duty military service, you would have to make a deposit to the civilian retirement system. That deposit would be a percentage of your military basic pay, not including any allowances or differentials. To learn how much that would be, you’d need to fill out form RI-20-97, Estimated Earnings During Military Service, and mail it to the finance center for your branch of service along with a copy of your DD 214, Report of Transfer or Discharge. When the form comes back, you’ll know the amount on which a deposit would be based. Because any federal job you took would be under the Federal Employees Retirement System, that amount would be around 3 percent. If you made the deposit within two years, no interest would accrue.
While you wouldn’t have to waive any of your VA disability compensation, you might have to waive your military retired pay. I suggest that you go to OPM’s website and review the chapter on Creditable Military Service. It’s located at http://opm.gov/retire/pubs/handbook/C022.pdf. When you get there, scroll down to Part A4, Receipt of Military Retired Pay. Although its written for those covered by the Civil Service Retirement System, the same rules apply to those covered by FERS. Just ignore the address on p. 17. It’s out of date. You’ll need to write to the finance office for your branch of service.