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Military Service Credit Deposit for Active Duty Campaigns

Are you Retired from Active Duty (drawing a pension) and have one of these? Then it’s time to earn your Military Service Credit Deposit PhD!

Are you a Federal Employee drawing retired pay from Active Duty Military service? Think there is no way to to receive additional FERS retirement credit for your Active Duty Military service (Military Service Credit), since you are already drawing Active Duty retired pay? Think again- there is a path to have your cake and eat it, too.

Why should you do this?

First, you can obtain additional Fed ‘seniority’ credit for accruing Annual Leave.  Annual Leave is valuable because:

(a) It’s paid vacation time and

(b) Upon retiring or resigning from federal service you can sell Annual Leave back “one for one” and get paid for each unused Annual Leave hour at your hourly rate.

As a side note, Annual Leave is also valuable because of its “Use or Lose” life span- you can only carry 240 hours ofAnnual Leave across a Calendar (Leave) year.  As a supervisor of federal employees, I can confirm that it’s a major headache to request an Annual Leave Carryover extension for an employee with 240 or more hours on the books at the end of the year.  In 9 cases out of 10, it is simpler and less costly to manage the employee’s schedule so that they ‘burn’ the appropriate amount of Annual Leave before the end of the year.
So it behooves you to accrue Annual Leave as quickly as you are entitled to do it.

Per OPM, Annual Leave Accrual Rates are calculated according to your Service Computation Date for Leave (SCD Leave):

  • 0-3 years of service: 4 hrs Annual Leave accrued per pay period
  • 3-15 years of service: 6 hrs per pay period
  • >15 years of service: 8 hrs per pay period

Using a Military Service Credit to Back-date (my terminology) your Service Computation Date for Leave can make an immediate ‘prompt jump’ in your Annual Leave accrual rate if you have 3 years of Military Service Credit.  Even if your creditable time does not add up to 3 years, it accelerates your timeline to get to the next Annual Leave accrual threshold.

Specific OPM guidance from the OPM Veteran’s Guide follows (emphasis mine):

 Retired from Uniformed Service
Credit for uniformed service is substantially limited for retired members. In enacting the Dual Compensation Act in 1964, Congress adopted a compromise between the view that retired members should receive preference and full credit for their service and the view that there should be no advantage for retired members.

 For leave accrual, retirees receive credit only for:
• Actual service during a war declared by Congress (includes World War II covering the period December 7, 1941, to April 28,1952) or while participating in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge is authorized; or
• All active duty when retirement was based on a disability received as a direct result of armed conflict or caused by an instrumentality of war and incurred in the line of duty during a period of war as defined in 38 U.S.C. 101(11). “Period of war” includes World War II, the Korean conflict, Vietnam era, the Persian Gulf War, or the period beginning on the date of any future declaration of war by the Congress and ending on the date prescribed by Presidential proclamation or concurrent resolution of the Congress.

Second, you should request Military Service Credit to adjust your Service Computation Date for RIF (Reduction in Force).   This is of no immediate benefit to you, but if in the future your agency decides to reduce headcount through RIF, your date of eligibility for RIF (and its associated immediate FERS retirement benefits) are back-dated according to your MilitaryService Credit.

Specific OPM guidance from the OPM Veteran’s Guide follows (emphasis mine):

Creditable Service for RIF–Retired from Uniformed Service
Credit for uniformed service is substantially limited for retired members. In enacting the Dual Compensation Act in 1964, Congress adopted a compromise between the view that retired members should receive preference and full credit for their service and the view that there should be no advantage for retired members. Thus, retirees receive credit only as follows:

• A uniformed services retiree who is a preference eligible for RIF purposes receives service credit for all active duty. Other retirees receive service credit only for active duty during a war as defined in Chapter 2, or service in a campaignor expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized. See Eligibility for VeteransPreference in RIF in this chapterto determine if a retiree is a preference eligible for RIF purposes.
5 U.S.C. 3501, 3502; 5 CFR 351.501(d), 351.503

So what exactly can you claim to obtain a Military Service Credit from your Active Duty career if you’re already retired (drawing Active Duty pension)?

The short answer is that you can get credit for your overseas deployment time, as documented by earning an Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Navy Expeditionary Medal, or Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal.
The Long Answer is that there are specific campaigns and medals that can also add up for Military Service Credit.  If you’ve retired honorably from a 20-year Active Duty career, it’s likely you’ve performed at least 4 sea duty or field tours with overseas deployments- anywhere from 12-36 months of time spent accruing ‘Expeditionary’ Medal time which is creditable service.  Most of this is documented in your FITREPs, EVALs, and Page 13 entries.  I can’t speak for all 3 services (yet), but the Navy has a look-up table at BUPERS in Millington where they cross-reference your dates of service vs sea tours to check and calculate your Navy Expeditionary Medal accrued time.

Once again, we shall read responsively from the OPM Veteran’s Guide:

Military Operations Since 1937 for Which a Campaign or Expeditionary Medal Has Been Awarded, Except for Operations Occurring During a Declared War

Military personnel receive many awards and decorations. To help agencies make decisions concerning entitlement to Veterans preference and other benefits, the following list identifies those awards that are campaign and expeditionary medals. Any Armed Forces expeditionary Medal, whether listed here or not, is qualifying for Veterans preference. The Department of Defense, not OPM, determines who is entitled to receive a medal, and under what circumstances. The list below is derived from DoD 1348.33-M, Manual of Military Decorations and Awards.   DD 214, Certificate of Discharge or Separation from Active Duty, or other official documents issued by the branch of service are required as verification of eligibility for Veterans preference.

Campaigns and Expeditions Which Qualify For Veterans preference (Appendix A)

Campaigns and Expeditions Which Qualify For Veterans preference
Campaign or Expedition Inclusive dates
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (AFEM) A veteran’s DD Form 214 showing the award of any Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal is acceptable proof. The DD form 214 does not have to show the name of the theater or country of service for which that medal was awarded.
Afghanistan (Operations Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Iraqi Freedom (OIF)) OEF September 11, 2001, to present; OIF March 19, 2003, to present
Berlin August 14, 1961, to June 1, 1963
Bosnia (Operations Joint Endeavor, Joint Guard, and Joint Forge) ) November 20, 1995 to December 20, 1996; December 20, 1996 to June 20, 1998; June 21, 1998 to present
Cambodia March 29, 1973, to August 15, 1973
Cambodia Evacuation (Operation Eagle Pull) April 11 – 13, 1975
Congo July 14, 1960, to September 1, 1962, and November 23, to 27, 1964
Cuba October 24, 1962, to June 1, 1963
Dominican Republic April 28, 1965, to September 21, 1966
El Salvador January 1, 1981, to February 1, 1992
Global War on Terrorism September 11, 2001 to present
Grenada (Operation Urgent Fury) October 23, 1983, to November 21, 1983
Haiti Operation Uphold Democracy) September 16, 1994, to March 31, 1995
Iraq (Operations Northern Watch, Desert Spring, Enduring Freedom (OEF), and Iraqi Freedom (OIF)) January 1, 1997 to present;
December 31, 1998 to December 31, 2002 (projected);
OEF September 11, 2001, to present; OIF March 19, 2003, to present
Korea October 1, 1966, to June 30, 1974
Kosovo March 24, 1999 to present
Laos April 19, 1961, to October 7, 1962
Lebanon July 1, 1958, to November 1, 1958, and June 1, 1983, to December 1, 1987
Mayaguez Operation May 15, 1975 to May 15, 1975
Operations in the Libyan Area (Operation Eldorado Canyon) April 12, 1986 to April 17, 1986
Panama (Operation Just Cause) December 20, 1989, to January 31, 1990
Persian Gulf Operation (Operation Earnest Will) July 24, 1987, to August 1, 1990
Persian Gulf Operation (Operation Southern Watch) December 1, 1995, to present
Persian Gulf Operation (Operation Vigilant Sentinel) December 1, 1995 to February 1, 1997
Persian Gulf Operation (Operation Desert Thunder) November 11, 1998 to December 22, 1998
Persian Gulf Operation (Operation Desert Fox) December 16, 1998 to December 22, 1998
Persian Gulf Intercept Operation December 1, 1995, to present
Quemoy and Matsu Islands August 23, 1958, to June 1, 1963
Somalia (Operations Restore Hope and United Shield) December 5, 1992, to March 31, 1995
Taiwan Straits August 23, 1958, to January 1, 1959
Thailand May 16, 1962, to August 10, 1962
Vietnam Evacuation (Operation Frequent Wind) April 29, 1975, to April 30, 1975
Vietnam (including Thailand) July 1, 1958, to July 3, 1965

Action Plan for a Federal Employee retired from Active Duty (drawing Active Duty pension):
1) Review your service record for documents of Campaigns and Expeditionary Medals listed in the above table.
2) Forward the documents to your HR servicing office to request Military Service Credit Deposit for each specific Campaign or for creditable Expeditionary Medal time (spent deployed).
3) Check that your SCD Leave and SCD RIF are adjusted accordingly.

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53 thoughts on “Military Service Credit Deposit – Retired from Active Duty

  1. Sir,

    If I retired from active duty 1 OCT 2006 and recieved the Campaign Medal: Global War on Terrorism Service Medal do I get credit for all of the time between the dates (11 Sept 01-30 Sept 2006) ??? Or do I only get credit for the time I was actually overseas/deployed during that time frame?


    • Mee –

      It may be. Much more likely if you received an actual Campaign Medal for your tour time. Contact your local HR office for details.

  2. I am retired from the Navy since 2010. I submitted my SF 813 upon my initial hire with a government agency in APR 2014. I indicated the AFEM on the form. I recently received the form back from HR in FEB 2015 and was told I would not be eligible for the increase in leave time. I was told I could ask NPC for a reconsideration and resubmit the form. I have read OPM Chapter 6 and see no reason why this request would have been denied. You indicated that, “If you’ve retired honorably from a 20-year Active Duty career, it’s likely you’ve performed at least 4 sea duty or field tours with overseas deployments- anywhere from 12-36 months of time spent accruing ‘Expeditionary’ Medal time which is creditable service.” ON my DD 214 it is indicated that I have less than 12 months overseas service. Could that have been a factor in why I would not receive the 8 hour per pay period? I am resubmitting the SF 813 for a reconsidertion because I believe one on my tour dates was calculated incorrectly.

    • PJ –

      Thanks for reading.

      I would definitely re-submit. From others who have served 20+ years, their Navy Expeditionary Medals typically meet the requirement to demonstrate ‘Deployed’ time.

    • PJ, I am in the middle of my claim, as well. In emailing with the BUPERS folks, they want to see the “chop” dates, not just the “deployment” dates. If the, lets say, 5th Fleet chop dates are not in the record, they won’t count anything. My Page 13 entry for the AFEM has a single date entry and my fitters/awards don’t show the chop dates. For GWOT, you have to have been in a recognized GWOT area. Those dates, especially for IAs, are more readily apparent. But for normal deployments, it is a bit tougher, especially if admin didn’t keep up. Cruise books and/or Deck Logs may be the next best thing. Good Luck! I know I need it, too!

  3. Can you address service academy time for military retirees? I’ve heard and read that it can be bought back, but there appears to be questions about whether or not it can be applied towards SCD for Leave.


      • My HR department rep says that it will only count for FERS retirement, and not SCD Leave. He doesn’t seem interested in explaining the why, other than saying it would be “double dipping,” but wouldn’t explain what he meant by that, and that it was too complex for me to understand. I think he has the wrong interpretation of the laws/rules based on what I’ve been told by others, but there doesn’t appear to be a transparent way to figure it out. Thanks.

        • Jason, I am just starting my own quest. Section 1115 of the 2008 NDAA talks to the opening up for service academy time. It changed 5 US Code, more specifically, Section 8331 (13) (c). Google FedWeek and service academy. An article on this topic, with an OPM explanation should be found. That should be some good fodder for a rebuttal. BL: Service Academy time, given it is not counted towards military retirement, is creditable military service separate from that counted towards retirement. There is no double dipping taking place. It would be double dipping if it were counted towards both military and civilian retirement, but it isn’t. Don’t give up. Keep up the fight!

          • I agree, but getting HR to count the time for SCD Leave is challenging when they won’t even discuss it. It isn’t really a factor for a couple years. Hopefully OPM will give clear guidance and update the payroll manual.

  4. A unique situation here…my Agency has refused to restore my previous SCD which was established through SF-50 personnel action prior to my entrance on duty…it was granted by the Agency prior to that date and granted for prior work related experience directly related to the position I was appointed (that experience was gained while in the uniformed services). I am retired from active duty and receiving retired pay – my Agency discovered this and has used this as justification to remove approximately 217 annual leave hours from my leave account balance. My understanding of OPM regulations to include GPPA Chapter 6 is quite clear…yet, the Agency affected an unjust personnel (882) action to adjust my SCD. This is in extreme contradiction to Agency Regulation pertaining to Pay and Leave. Yes there is a negotiated grievance procedure and Alternate Dispute Resolution which both have been exercised and both have failed miserably to provide remedy. Any ideas on how to go after these knuckle-heads?

    • Miller –

      Thanks for your service!

      I’d recommend contacting a command Ombudsman or speak to a local labor (AFGE or NTEU) representative.

  5. I am retired Navy, 20 plus years, with a Navy Expeditionary Medal for Lebanon, An Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for Grenada and Southwest Asia Service Medal with bronze star. How much potential time does this give me towards leave accrual?

    • John –

      Thanks for your service!
      You should be able to get day-for-day credit for SCD Leave for each day deployed. You’ll need to have your service record documenting the dates of deployments available to hand over to your HR department. Good Luck!

  6. I have submitted SF813 indicating 367 days of validated (DD214) combat deployed time. What SCD award should I expect?


    • Dave –

      Thanks for your service!

      I would expect a 367-day rollback of your SCD RIF and SCD Leave. Your SCD Civilian should remain the same.

  7. Retired from USA with 26 years. Earned AFEM for deployment to Bosnia back in ’96. Also served in Iraq from Feb ’03 to Mar ’04 and earned Iraqi Campaign Medal. Will this award qualify me to earn leave at a higher accural rate?

  8. Pingback: Military Service Credit Deposit - Buy Back Military Time

  9. What about medical retirees from the military? I have 10 years in the military, but I was given a medical retirement. I receive no “retired pay’ from the military. I waived it all for compensation from the VA. I know it is possible to buy back my time for retirement purposes, but what about leave accrual? Will my whole 10 years go towards that?

    • Matthew-

      Thanks for your service! In most cases, if you are drawing military retirement pay (from either 20 years of service or a service-connected disability) you are not able to buyback this time in the FERS retirement system. You can contact your local HR office for more details.

  10. I was a federal employee for 7yrs before I reenlist in the Navy. I will be retiring next year Oct 2017 for 20yrs of service, in that I have been deployed multiple times for the Iraqi freedom and earned Expeditionary Medal…how all of this will play if I apply for another federal Job like Post Office.

  11. Pingback: Earning Both A Military Pension And A Civil-Service Pension - Military Guide

  12. I was hired by my agency on Oct 2012. I recently submitted my SF 813 and SCD date was backed up to Aug 2010. Which means I should have been getting 6hrs instead of 4 starting Aug 2013. I didn’t start earning 6 until Oct 2015. My question is how do I recoup the hours I missed from the last 3 years?

  13. Good afternoon,

    Hopefully you are still monitoring replies. I can’t find a straight answer. I was medically retired due to an injury from combat. I enlisted in 03/2000 and retired in 06/2014. I started work at the VA in 03/16. I turned in my DD214 and disability determination documents when hired. I currently have a Service Computation Date of Nov 29, 2001. I receive a small sum from the Army for retirement, and I waived military retired pay and I receive the rest from the VA in the form of VA disability compensation, along with CRSC pay. As far as FERS is concerned, from what I am reading, my entire 14 yr and some change career on active duty counts toward retirement correct? I know it counts for leave, as I am in category 2, about to be in category 3 at the end of the month.

    • Pegasus –

      Thanks for your service!

      In most cases, if your are drawing a pension from your Active Duty service time (be it from retiring after 20 years or being Medically Retired from Active Duty), then you cannot use your active duty time towards your Service Computation Date for Retirement. You can only take additional credit for SCD Leave (which copies over to your SCD RIF), and only for Active Duty time spent you served in any of the Approved Campaigns listed above in the article.

      Contact your HR representative for more info.

  14. I’ve just been informed that my SCD for leave is 7/22/92, while my Civil Service SCD date remains 7/6/97. I was planning on retiring from the VA on about 7/31/17, which would be a little over 20 years. I’m thinking eight hours x five years (actually a little less) = 1040 hours or 23.5 weeks. Are my computations close to correct? Would you know what my options are in this case? Since I’m retired military, I’m told that I can’t count this time towards retirement.

    Thank you for what you do!

    • Robert – Thanks for reading! You should be all set to retire with 20 years of service on 7/31/17 if your SCD Civilian is 7/6/97. As always – Verify with your HR Representative.

  15. I’m currently retired from the USCGR with over 29.5 years. I initially did 7 years active duty and started my reserve time right after I was discharged with no break in service. I have 25 good years (7 years included). I’m 55.5 years old right now so I’m not drawing pay yet. I would like to know can I apply the seven years to my federal service towards my federal retirement (I’m in law enforcement so at age 57 we get forced out). Will I loose pay from the military reserve pay since I would have 18 good years, I’m confused. I’m due to retired in 09/2017 so I need to make a decision, should I buy-back seven or five. Five years will still leave 20 good years.

    • Caesar – Thanks for your service!
      You should be able to keep these two careers (USCG and Fed time) as apples and oranges since you are not drawing USCG retired pay. Contact your HR rep to initiate a Military Service Credit Deposit (QUICKLY). Law enforcement careers have their own systems, but I think in most cases you can buy back your Active time – And I recommend the full AD career for your buyback. LMK how it goes.

  16. I’m confused on how to fill out the SF 813. Do I include all the campaigns during my military career, or just if I actually served in the country? I was deployed for 6 months to Afghanistan from 09/2007 to 03/2008. But according to the OPM guide, the dates for OEF are 11 SEP 2001 to present. I served 25 and a half years, from Dec 1991 to Jul 2017. Also, do I get credit for my year long tour in Korea (2004-2005)?

  17. It’s been 4 years since you wrote this initial column (and thank you for it!!). Do you have an updated site that Navy folks can go to so they can cross-reference dates of service vs sea tours to check and calculate Navy Expeditionary Medal accrued time?

  18. I was wondering if you know if there is a limit on the amount of time you can get credited back? I belive I have 25 Months of time to be awarded back.

    • Tim – Thanks for your service!

      No, I don’t think there’s any limit on what you can buy back, other than the amount of time you served.

  19. I was hired as mil-tech for the USAR in 2007, had a break and was rehired and given a new SCD of Jan 2009. I have NOT yet bought any AD time back. I am currently on a ADOS tour that started APR of 2019. I’m considering going AGR as I have 5 years AFS and 16 years total including those 5 AFS towards a USAR retirement. My question is if I go AGR, do 15 years to get 20 AFS and collect an active pension at 54 (2034) could I find a federal position then and pick up where I left off (approx. 10 years civilian time) + the overseas deployments time mentioned above and then collect the civilian pension in addition to the active one? If so is there a minimum service time required on the civilian side or does my 10 years beforehand already fill it?

  20. I am currently active duty with 18 years creditable service. I did a the military buyback program when I got hired as a GS (I was also a reservist at a the time). I didnt plan on going back active duty so I completed my military buy back payments (~around $8k). Now that Im active duty and certainly like to finish it out to retirement, what happens to the money I paid to buy back my military service?

    • Rey –

      Thanks for your service! From your comment/question it is not clear if you will be retiring from the Guard/Reserves or ‘full’ Active Duty retirement. If you will be retired guard/reserves your Service Credit Deposit will stay ‘deposited’. That’s the bad news. The good news is you will have more years as a GS when you draw FERS Annuity.

  21. I retired from active duty Army in 2005 and started drawing retirement pay. I was hired as contractor the same year and the position was switched to GS in 2009. If I serve 20 years as a GS employee would i then be eligible for a GS retirement?

    • Michael – Thanks for your service! You are eligible for GS retirement starting from the day you entered Federal Service. This is known as your SCD-Civilian date. See the SCD posts or the eBook for more info.

  22. Hello, thanks for the help you provide.
    The length of time to get this buyback done has been a real eye-opener.
    I think I know the answer to my question, but I’ll ask since the processing time has been so substantial.
    Once the buy back is processed, does the leave accrual apply retroactively? For example, you have an SCD Civ date of Jan, you apply for buy back and it finally completes in July. The buy back kicks you up to a higher leave accrual rate. Do you get the rate applied starting at SCD Civ, or just going forward from the final processing date?
    This is just frustration about how much leave I have “lost” due to this painful process.

    • Shawn – Thanks for your service!

      The additional leave time for the buyback should go retroactive from the day you started employment as a Civilian. They do not make a calculation based on their processing delay as that would be a ‘circular reference’ in Microsoft Excel parlance. Watch your paystubs closely and keep all of your paystubs and SF=50s.

  23. I think I know the answer to my question, but to be sure I will ask. I was told by my HR that even though I was retired since it is medically I can still use the buyback program. Additionally they informed me that my Va disability payment is unchanged if I opt to buy back my time. The Va will stop receiving my pension check from the navy but the check I receive is unaffected. Does that seem right?


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