Military to State Department transition


Q. I have served in the Marine Corps for 17 years, 10 active and seven reserve currently, but plan on serving 20 years total before I end my military service. I am transitioning into the State Department as a Foreign Service officer and had several questions concerning my retirement.
1. I plan on buying the credit for my military service. While active duty is straightforward to calculate, how do they credit my reserve time? Is it only active-duty days served while in a reserve billet?
2. Assuming they credit my 10 active years and some portion of my reserve time, will I be able to serve the balance of the 20-year minimum in the Foreign Service and retire with 20 qualifying years?
3. Is the minimum retirement age for the Foreign Service 50 years old?
4. How long do I have to pay the credit for my military service?
5. What percentage of my pay is used to calculate my retirement annuity and is it different for military or Foreign Service service?

A. If you make a deposit for your years of active-duty military service, you’ll get credit for that time in determining your eligibility to retire and in your annuity calculation. As a rule, reserve time is not creditable. Your new agency will check with your branch of service to see if there are any exceptions, for example, two-week periods when you were called to active duty for training. The minimum retirement age for Foreign Service Officers who have 20 or more years of creditable service is 50.
The required deposit is 3 percent of your basic pay while on active duty, not including any allowances or differentials you may have received. There’s no limit to the time you have to make that deposit, as long as you do it before the final adjudication of your application for retirement. However, interest begins to accrue two years after you are first hired, so the sooner the deposit is made the less expensive it will be.


About Author

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

Leave A Reply