Air traffic controller and creditable service


Q. I am an air traffic controller under FERS who will retire with 25 years of service at age 49. I also have five years of military service that I’ve bought back, bringing my total to 30 years. I’m unclear on the manner in which my military service will be calculated in my retirement annuity. One possibility would be to declare military service time as part of the 30-year requirement to convert all the years values to 1.7 percent, instead of 1.7 percent for the first 20, then 1 percent after that. The legal language has historically read “30 years of creditable service,” and service time has been allowed. However, Section 226 of PL 108-176, Aviation Reauthorization Act, now reads as “30 years of service.”  That would lead me to believe that military time will only count after the 30-year requirement has been satisfied. The wording seems ambiguous and I cannot find any clear guidance towards solving this issue. Do I need 30 years of Federal Aviation Administration service, then add my five military years, or can I go at 25 years and add the military time to complete the requirement?

A. I can find nothing in the law that would alter the standard way of calculating an annuity for an air traffic controller covered by FERS: 0.017 x high-3 x 20 years of covered service + 0.01 x high-3 x all remaining years and full months of service (whether covered, noncovered or acquired through deposit for active-duty service). As far as I know, nothing has changed the parallel annuity computation provisions for law enforcement officers, firefighter and air traffic controllers.


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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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