Active-duty and National Guard time and federal benefits


Q. I was in the active Air Force for five years and in the Pennsylvania Air National Guard for 18 years. I am retired and am receiving benefits. I also have two years as a federal employee in the VA health system. I am considering a job with VA. How do I determine my status regarding years of service and how this affects benefits while working and at retirement? What office gives the definitive answer?

A. OPM is the ultimate source of definitive answers; however, your own agency personnel office should be able to give you the same answers. They are the ones I’ll give you now.

To be vested in the civilian retirement system, you’ll have to have five years of full-time service under FERS. If you make a deposit for your active-duty service, that time will be used in determining your total years of service and in your annuity computation when you retire.

Doing so will not affect your entitlement to reserve retired pay.

Whether or not you make a deposit, you should be able to get credit for your active-duty service in setting your annual leave accrual rate. Check with your personnel office to be sure. Note: Time spent in the reserves is never creditable for any civilian purpose unless you are called to active duty.


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Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to

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