TN 36 (10-23)

RS 01702.193 Military Retirement and Survivor Systems

A. Policy - Military retirement benefits

Periodic MS benefits generally are called “retirement benefits,” whether based on age, length of service (longevity), reserve/National Guard service, or disability. Any periodic survivor benefits are based on the deceased's actual or potential retirement benefit. Retired pay generally is computed on the length of service or on the percentage of disability.

Retired pay may never exceed 75% of the veteran's basic monthly pay, which is the base pay of the grade or rank in which the veteran was retired, or to which the veteran was later advanced on the retired list.

The retirement benefit is computed at 2 1/2% of the basic monthly pay, times the years of service; e.g., twenty years yields 50%, and thirty years yields 75% (maximum).

B. Policy - Disability retirement benefits

The retirement benefit payable for disability can be based on either longevity, as explained above; or, the basic monthly pay multiplied by the percentage of disability (not to exceed 75%). The veteran may choose either method based on which is higher or on tax considerations, since the disability retirement may or may not be taxable (as determined by the IRS). The percentage of disability basis does not bar SS wage credits unless there is a minimum length of service requirement when the disability is not from the performance of active duty. (See RS 01702.197 for a discussion of disability retirement.)

C. Policy - Longevity and age retirement

1. Longevity retirement

Retirement for longevity is generally voluntary, and usually occurs after 20 years of service and not later than 30 years of service, although there can be exceptions. Because 20 years of service usually is a factor of eligibility, no wage credits may be granted if any part of the 20 years falls in the WWII or post-WWII period.

Further, the amount of retired pay is a multiple of the total years of service, which again precludes wage credits even if service in the WWII or post-WWII periods was not needed to meet the 20-year requirement, unless 29 1 /2 years of service was completed, as explained below.

2. 29 1/2 year rule

Under the 29 1/2 year rule, service is increased to the next full year for fractions of six months or more. If a veteran completed at least 29 1/2 years of creditable service before September 16, 1940, 30 years of service is used in computing retirement pay. In this situation, the amount of payment will not be based on WW II service even though service continued during that period. The same rule applies to the post-WW II period where the veteran completed at least 29 1/2 years of service before July 25, 1947.

In any case in which application of this rule is pertinent, the service department will complete the appropriate item(s) on SSA-654-U4 to indicate that service in the WW II or post-WW II period was not included in the computation, or will leave those items blank and show under “Remarks” the exact amount of active service as of the beginning of WW II or post-WW II period. Use this information to determine whether wage credits may be granted under the above rule.

The rule for crediting 30 years of service on the basis of 29 1/2 years of active service applies only to the computation of the payment. If 30 years or any other specified number of years of service is required to establish eligibility to the retirement payment, the full number of years must be completed before eligibility is established. If any part of the WW II or post-WW II period is used to meet the minimum eligibility requirement, wage credits may not be granted for that period even though it is not used for computation under the above rule.

3. Combined service

In some cases the minimum service must all be active, but in others it may be a combination of active and inactive service. The Navy and Marine Corps have a special classification called Naval (or Marine Corps) Fleet Reserve. The transfer of an individual into this classification is considered a retirement for SS purposes. The pay while in the Fleet Reserve is called retainer pay. While in the Fleet Reserve, they may be in active or inactive service status.

An individual may be transferred to the Fleet Reserve after 20 years of active service although, under some conditions, 16 years of active service also qualify for transfer. A member of the Fleet Reserve may be retired (as that term is generally understood) when 30 years of active and inactive service is completed. Other services have similar reserve status such as ready, standby, or retired reserves.

4. Age retirement

An age retirement occurs when an individual attains a specified age. The specified age varies and may be related to the rank or grade of the individual. Generally, age retirements are mandatory. Although age is the principal requirement, there is sometimes an additional minimum service requirement.

An age retirement is not based on the direct crediting of service, unless the additional requirement of a minimum amount of service is present. If it is present, the age requirement is treated as a longevity retirement for purposes of determining whether pre-1957 MS wage credits may be granted.

Age retirements are computed according to the same multiple-of-service formula used in retirements for length-of-service.

5. Over-Age-In-Grade retirement

Certain officers are subject to mandatory retirement if they are not promoted to the next higher rank after a certain period of time. They are referred to as “force-out” retirements. Sometimes these retirements require a minimum amount of service, but they are always computed according to the same multiple-of-service formula used in retirements for length-of-service.

D. Policy - Waiver of military retirement benefits

Longevity or disability retirement pay may be waived upon (but not prior to) civil service retirement in order to receive civil service longevity credit for the service; disability retirement pay may be waived to receive VA compensation.

Either waiver is revocable with the following exception: when the MS is necessary to meet civil service longevity requirements, the waiver cannot be revoked at age 62 when the longevity requirement drops to five years. In any event, a waiver, even if retirement pay is never received, does not alter the initial military department determination. See RS 01702.200 for how waiver affects SSA use of the MS.

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RS 01702.193 - Military Retirement and Survivor Systems - 10/06/2023
Batch run: 10/06/2023