Effect of active duty service


Q. What impact does USERRA have on the high-3 calculation?

For instance, please consider a hypothetical situation in which a civilian employee/military reservist earned annual income from his civilian federal agency of $96,000 one year, then $98,000 the next and then is making $100,000 when called to active duty at the end of the next year. He is activated for two years, during which time the GS scale gets annual 3 percent increases across the board. He comes back and works a final year, pays his military deposit, then retires after another 3 percent increase gives him an entire year at $110,000.

Under USERRA, is his “high-3” salary to be calculated as if he never left his civilian job for military service – i.e., he gets treated as if he had earned $103,000 and $106,000 during each of those consecutive years – or will USPS/DHS/USDA, etc., simply report the high-3 average of $98,000, $100,000 and $110,000.

A. Regulations in 5 CFR 353.107 provide that upon re-employment, an employee absent because of uniformed service is generally entitled to be treated as though he or she never left. This means that a person who is re-employed following uniformed service receives credit for the entire period of the absence for purposes of rights and benefits based upon seniority and length of service, including within-grade increases, career tenure, completion of probation, leave rate accrual and severance pay.


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.

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