Military Reservists: Do You Qualify For Reduced Age Retirement?
by John Cooney on Nov 28, 2017
Everyone knows if you qualify for a retirement as a Military Reservist, your pension payments don’t begin until you turn 60, right? Well, maybe not, if you were mobilized after January 2008, you may qualify for a reduced age retirement, which means that your pension payments can start as early as 50. Included in the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act is a provision to begin payments early based on the number of days spent on Active Duty in support of the Global War on Terror or any of its derivatives on or after January 28th, 2008.
So, if you fall into this category, how do you calculate when your retirement pay can begin? Two important things to remember are that the days are not a one for one match and days are only counted within the same fiscal year. For example, say you got mobilized on 5 January 2009 and remained on active duty in support of the Global War on Terror until 20 February 2010. This means you spent a total of 411 days on active duty, but that does not mean you get your retirement pay 411 days early. So what does it mean? Remember the two things I referenced above, days are not a one for one match and it is calculated on a Fiscal Year (1 Oct to 30 Sep) basis. So for FY 2009, you were on active duty from 5 January to 30 September, or a total of 268 days. For FY 2010, you were deployed from 1 October 2009 to 20 February 2010, or a total of 142 days. (A great tool to help you calculate the number of days is at https://www.timeanddate.com/date/duration.html) Once you know the total number of days on orders for the fiscal year, you then divide that number by 90. Why 90? Well, DOD will reduce the pension start date, in groups of 3 months, for every full 90 day period served. Back to our example above, after dividing by 90 we get 2.97 for FY09 and 1.57 for FY10. Unfortunately, DOD does not round up, so you get credit for 2 in FY09 and 1 for FY10. You then add up each period from each fiscal year, or in this case 3. 3 periods is equal to 9 months of reduced time, meaning your pension payments can start at age 59 and 3 months. Regardless of how many periods you qualify for, the lowest age a Reservist can begin receiving their pension is age 50.
It is your responsibility to track whether you qualify for the reduced age retirement and to alert Human Resources Command when you submit your retirement pay application that you are applying for the reduced age retirement as well. To make sure you get credit for the reduced age pay, you will need to prove you qualify. Your best proof is including the DD-214s from each period you are claiming as a qualifying period, as well as the mobilization orders from those deployments as well. These documents need to be included with your retired pay application. You will also need to annotate “Early Age Drop” across the top of your application.
Do you have questions on what your military retirement should look like?
How can you make sure you get credit for the qualified time and get paid the correct amount? Be pro-active in tracking and confirming your retirement points and in keeping the documents that prove your service. The most important document is your DD-214, not only is this important for retirement, but it is also a key proof of service for any Veteran Benefit you apply for. You should also be checking your retirement points on a yearly basis to ensure they are correct. Each year, HRC produces a chronological statement of retirement points. Print out a copy, review it, and make sure it accurately reflects your service for the year. If it does not, request a points correction. The earlier you can catch any issues, the easier it should be to claim and substantiate the corrections.
Military retirement is not easy to qualify for, but when you earn it, make sure your pension begins when it should and reflects your full service. No one will do this for you, take charge of your own retirement today!