Military time and retirement

AlphaKilo

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Feb 1, 2009
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I know military time doesn't count towards the date you can retire (25 years "good time"), but does it count towards your total years when determining your pension percentage after retirement?
 

MikeATC

Retired FAA, NATCA Member
Apr 3, 2009
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Time spent in the military counts toward your total years in government service, but it only adds to your retirement pension, "IF you buy back your military time."
 

purpletw

Trusted Member
Dec 14, 2010
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Do any of you know the reg on that? There's some other stuff I'd like to read up on also.
 

Roddy_Piper

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not sure if your looking specifically for the requirements to retire or the buy-back of military time.

if you want the requirements for controllers to retire then it's 5 CFR Part 842.207

§ 842.207 Air traffic controllers.

(a) An employee who separates from service, except by removal for cause or charges of delinquency or misconduct, is entitled to an annuity—

(1) After completing 25 years of service as an air traffic controller; or

(2) After becoming age 50 and completing 20 years of service as an air traffic controller.

(b) An annuity payable under paragraph (a) of this section commences on the first day of the month following separation.
if your looking specifically for buying back military time it's 5 CFR Part 842.307. it's long and drawn out, but i bolded the most important parts for a majority of people, assuming you are NOT a retired military member.

§ 842.307 Deposits for military service.

(a) Eligibility to make a deposit. (1) An employee or Member subject to FERS may make a deposit for any distinct period of military service by filing an application in a form prescribed by OPM.

(2) An application to make a deposit is filed with the appropriate office in the employing agency, or, for Members and Congressional employees, with the Secretary of the Senate, or the Clerk of the House of Representatives, as appropriate.

(3) An employee's or Member's deposit for military service must be completed before separation from service. If a deceased employee or Member was, at the time of death, eligible to make a deposit, the employee's or Member's survivor may make the deposit in one lump sum to the former employing agency, the Secretary of the Senate or the Clerk of the House of Representatives, before OPM completes adjudication of the survivor annuity application. A person who was eligible to make a deposit for military service but failed to complete the deposit within the time limits provided in this paragraph, may complete the deposit in a lump sum within the time limit set by OPM when it rules that an administrative error has been made.

(b) Amount of deposit. (1) The amount of a deposit for military service equals 3 percent of the basic pay for the service under 37 U.S.C. 207, or an estimate of the basic pay (see paragraph (c)(1)(iii) of this section), plus interest, unless interest is not required under paragraph (b)(4) of this section.

(2) Interest is charged at a rate as determined by the Secretary of the Treasury for each calendar year that equals the overall average yield to the Fund during the preceding fiscal year from all obligations purchased by the Secretary during such fiscal year under 5 U.S.C. 8348(c), (d), and (e).

(3) The computation of interest is on the basis of 30 days to the month. Interest is computed for the actual calendar time involved in each case; but whenever applicable, the rule of average applies.

(4) Interest is computed from the mid-point of each full period of service included in the computation. The interest accrues annual on the outstanding portion beginning on the second anniversary of the employee's or Member's beginning date of coverage under FERS, and is compounded annually, until the portion is deposited. Interest is charged to the date of deposit. No interest will be charged if the deposit is completed before the end of the year after interest begins. For example, if an employee becomes subject to FERS on March 1, 1988, interest begins to accrue on March 1, 1990; however, no interest would be included in the deposit due if the deposit is completed by February 28, 1991.

(c) Processing deposit applications and payments. (1) The agency, Clerk of the House of Representatives, or Secretary of the Senate will have the employee or Member—

(i) Complete an application to make deposit;

(ii) Provided a copy of his or her DD Form 214 or its equivalent to verify the period(s) of service; and

(iii) Provide copies of all official military pay documents, as identified in instructions issued by OPM, which show the exact basic pay he or she received for full period of service; or, if such evidence is not available, obtain a statement of estimated earnings from the appropriate branch of the military service and submit the statement.

(2) Upon receipt of the application, the DD Form 214, and either the evidence of exact basic pay or the statement of estimated earnings, the agency, Clerk of the House of Representatives, or Secretary of the Senate will establish a deposit account showing—

(i) The total amount due, including interest, if any;

(ii) A payment schedule (unless deposit is made in a lump sum); and

(iii) The date and amount of each payment.

(3) Deposits may be made in a single lump sum or in installments. The agency, Clerk of the House of Representatives, and Secretary of the Senate are not required to accept installment payments in amounts less than $50.

(4) Payments received by the employing agency, the Clerk of the House of Representatives, or the Secretary of the Senate will be remitted to OPM for deposit to the Fund in accordance with payroll office instructions issued by OPM.

(d) Distinct periods of service. A deposit is not considered to have been made for any distinct period of service unless the total amount due for the period is paid in full. A “distinct period” for this purpose is the total years, months, and days from the date of entry on active duty (or from January 1, 1957, if later) to the date of final discharge for enlisted military personnel, or to the date of final release from active duty for officers and reservists. A “distinct period” also includes consecutive periods of service where there is no break in service, but does not include any lost time.
 

vvatc

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Dec 14, 2009
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not sure if your looking specifically for the requirements to retire or the buy-back of military time.

if you want the requirements for controllers to retire then it's 5 CFR Part 842.207



if your looking specifically for buying back military time it's 5 CFR Part 842.307. it's long and drawn out, but i bolded the most important parts for a majority of people, assuming you are NOT a retired military member.
wondering if there's a calculator online for doing the math. There's a point where your FAA annuity vs. your military retirement pay makes it a poor gamble to buy back your military time.

Also, if I'm reading that correctly, if I buy back my 20 years of military service, I would be eligible for an annuity from the FAA after only 5 years (total of 25 years.) Which puts an interesting spin on the RMC 5 year term appointment...
 

Roddy_Piper

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Also, if I'm reading that correctly, if I buy back my 20 years of military service, I would be eligible for an annuity from the FAA after only 5 years (total of 25 years.) Which puts an interesting spin on the RMC 5 year term appointment...
i don't believe you can get an FAA ATC retirement by buying back your 20+ years military and then working 5 years RMC. the reason is you need 25 years GOOD time to retire "early" as an air traffic controller. your military time is NOT GOOD time. so you would need to do at least 20 years RMC (or other "federal" time) + your 20 years military time for a total of 40 years federal retirement. at that point you might as well keep dual retirements.

plus, you would be too old to get your good time before the max age of 56. join military at 17, military retirement at 37, get hired RMC and do 20 years good time and be 57. that would be way too close and i just don't see it happening.
 

vvatc

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Dec 14, 2009
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i don't believe you can get an FAA ATC retirement by buying back your 20+ years military and then working 5 years RMC. the reason is you need 25 years GOOD time to retire "early" as an air traffic controller. your military time is NOT GOOD time. so you would need to do at least 20 years RMC (or other "federal" time) + your 20 years military time for a total of 40 years federal retirement. at that point you might as well keep dual retirements.

plus, you would be too old to get your good time before the max age of 56. join military at 17, military retirement at 37, get hired RMC and do 20 years good time and be 57. that would be way too close and i just don't see it happening.
Gone are the days of double retirements. My grandfather told me just last night that he's getting military and FAA retirement. He wasn't a controller; he was on the engineering team that developed and installed the FDIO in the original centers. And he's in his 90's so that was the definitive "back-in-the-day" era.

I guess I'm wondering what is the point of buying back your military time, if it doesn't apply towards retirement? If it's just for seniority, that would seem pretty lame. I'm gonna pay 3% of my basic pay just to be able to pick my days off? Not.

I'm just reaching for a bone here with the whole RMC term appointment thing and trying to justify re-applying for my job every 5 years. We'll see what happens...
 

Roddy_Piper

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as an RMC i don't see why you would buy back your military time. you'll get the time for seniority whether you buy it back or not. however, the time only counts for seniority as a tie-breaker.
 

KiloRomeo2

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Aug 30, 2009
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as an RMC i don't see why you would buy back your military time. you'll get the time for seniority whether you buy it back or not. however, the time only counts for seniority as a tie-breaker.
Does the FAA work differently than the DoD? Because my 20 years in the military didn't count toward any "senority" as a civilian employee. It does count for the people with prior military service (non-retirees). Their service time counts for their service computation date for leave (SCD Leave) automatically. I would have to buy my time back for it to count.
 

JoshATC

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Jun 27, 2010
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To my understanding, and someone please correct me if Im wrong, but the main reason to buying back your time is to up your retirement %. Take me for example 9 years of active duty AF as a controller. I got my TOL march 2011. If I start this year ill be entering at age 29.

If I go all the way to 56 thats 27 years FAA.

You get 1.75% for every year FAA.
And 1% for each military year.

56.25% if I buy back vs 47.25% if I dont.

Its going to cost me roughly 5k to buy back my time which in the long run that extra 9% will be easily make up for.

Now I know all this is subject to change.
 

Roddy_Piper

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really close Josh.

you'll get 1.7% for 20 years.
you'll get 1.0% for every year past 20 years (including the AF time you bought back).

so in your example you did 27 FAA + 9 AF (that you bought back)=36 years.

you'll get (20X1.7%) + (16X1%)= 50%. if you didn't buy your time back it would be (20X1.7%) + (7X1%)= 41%

so still 9% in the calculations, but there is a difference. you won't be at 56.25%/47.25%...you'll be at 50%/41%. there are some clauses that up the amount if you pass 30 years but i'm not real clear on it. it also depends if you are CSRS or FERS.
 

Roddy_Piper

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CFR 5 842.405

The annuity of an air traffic controller retiring under Sec. 842.207 or a law enforcement officer, firefighter or nuclear materials courier retiring under Sec. 842.208 is--

(a) One and seven-tenths percent of average pay multiplied by 20 years; plus

(b) One percent of average pay multiplied by the years of service exceeding 20 years.
this is what ATC makes on a retirement.
 

Roddy_Piper

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Its going to cost me roughly 5k to buy back my time which in the long run that extra 9% will be easily make up for.
this is a very very conservative example for mathematics sake. if you retire with your high 3 being $100,000 then your 9% annuity increase because of your buy back will give you $9,000 A YEAR for the rest of your life. it cost you $5,000 ONCE to gain that $9,000.

let's say you retire at 56 and die at 65. you would've made $81,000 on your retirement annuity for $5,000 right now. it gets even bigger if you retire earlier than 56 and die later than 65. either way, it will take you 7 months or less to recoup the amount you pay now to buy back your time. so live more than 7 months after retiring and you will make money.

so let this be my personal plea to all VRAs...BUY BACK YOUR MILITARY TIME! preferably within the first two years of entering federal service so that you don't pay any interest. i understand that the first two years you make the least amount that you will make throughout your entire FAA career. but find a way. even if it takes you 5 years to buy it, pay some down in the first 2 years.
 

Nick

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Jun 14, 2008
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really close Josh.

you'll get 1.7% for 20 years.
you'll get 1.0% for every year past 20 years (including the AF time you bought back).

so in your example you did 27 FAA + 9 AF (that you bought back)=36 years.

you'll get (20X1.7%) + (16X1%)= 50%. if you didn't buy your time back it would be (20X1.7%) + (7X1%)= 41%

so still 9% in the calculations, but there is a difference. you won't be at 56.25%/47.25%...you'll be at 50%/41%. there are some clauses that up the amount if you pass 30 years but i'm not real clear on it. it also depends if you are CSRS or FERS.
From what I understand at 30 years all 30 years are calculated at 1.7. I'm not sure if military time over that is also 1.7 or 1
 

JoshATC

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Thanks Roddy,

I knew I was close glad to see the real numbers.

And you bet your sweet ass I'm buying all 9 years back would be stupid not to.
 

vvatc

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as an RMC i don't see why you would buy back your military time. you'll get the time for seniority whether you buy it back or not. however, the time only counts for seniority as a tie-breaker.
Just to be clear, I retired with 20 years military service. If I get picked up on the RMC vacancy, the day I go to the academy I already have 20 years seniority? Without "buying back my retirement"?