High-3 rules and military leave


Q: I am an employee with U.S. Customs and Border Protection in a covered 6(c) law enforcement position. I have 19 6(c) law enforcement years for retirement purposes. I am also in the National Guard.

If I enter the active-duty Army and take leave without pay for the next five years, which years would be included to make up my “high 3” for retirement purposes under the Federal Employees Retirement System? Is the high-3 calculation based on actual money earned (i.e., the three years prior to entering active duty with the military), or is it based on my paygrade and scale I would received if I retire at the end of my leave period? If it is the latter, would it include the 25 percent Law Enforcement Availability Pay which I am receiving now?

A: Your high-3 would be the one you had on the day you went on LWOP-US. However, you would have to return to a covered position and make a deposit to the retirement system to receive credit for that period of time as a law enforcement officer.


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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 fedexperts@federaltimes.com.

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