RIF preference


Q. I joined the Army in November 1982 and retired in December 2007 (25-plus years). I served during the 1991 Persian Gulf War and other conflicts. I served two tours in Iraq and received several campaign badges. I receive normal retirement pay for years of service. I also receive disability pay from the VA with a disability rating of 90 percent. I am 10 point preference eligible. I was hired for federal position and I am “permanent tenure.” I was hired using my veteran preference. I retired as a master sergeant/E-8.

Am I RIF preference eligible? My SF-50 says I am RIF veteran preference eligible and shows that I was hired using 10 point (more than 30 percent disability) preference. But the VET Guide seems kind of vague, and I don’t see where I would be eligible. My retirement was not based on disability; it is based on 20 or more years of full-time, active-service, and I have not been employed continuously based on 5 U.S.C. chapter 35. And if I really am RIF preference eligible, does my entire 25-plus years count toward length of service in federal service for RIF purposes or just the years I spent in a war zone?

A. According to OPM, “By law (i.e., the Dual Compensation Act of 1964, as presently codified in section 3501(a) of title 5, United States Code), a retired member of the Armed Forces is a veteran under the RIF regulations only if the employee meets one of the following three conditions:

“1. The Armed Forces retirement (without regard to benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs) is directly based upon a combat‑incurred disability or injury; or

“2. The Armed Forces retirement is based upon less than 20 years of active duty; or

“3. The employee has been working for the Government since November 30, 1964, without a break in service of more than 30 days.”


About Author

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


  1. Malone Smith on

    Does “working for the Government since November 30, 1964” mean the actual date of work started on 30 Nov 1964 or does an employee who starts civil service November 30, 1990 and does not have a break in service of more than 30 days fall in the same category?

      • Thank you sir for the time and effort you take to answer, quick tag on: how would the above statement (on or after Nov 30, 1964) apply in this situation:
        I was hired as a FERS employee 1990 and have not had a break in service but have had 6 periods of LWOP-US. Due to the LWOP-US time I retired from the AF Reserves and started drawing an immediate military retirement at age 50 while a FERS employee. Would the on/after Nov 64 or USERRA make the LWOP-US military service creditable for retirement as well or would it be treated differently? Thanks once a again for your time.

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