The Military Guide


Military Retirement From The Individual Ready Reserve


(Note:  For over nine months, the topics of the Reserve and National Guard forces have been at the top of this blog’s searches.  After 30 months of blogging, some of these posts rank higher in Google’s search results than the official DoD pages.  

At the end of this post I’ve linked every major article on this blog with information about the Reserves and Guard:  serving, benefits, separating, and retiring.  Some of the reader questions may apply to only a few servicemembers or retirees, but I’ve included all of them.  Please let me know if you have questions, advice, or your own story to share!)

In today’s post, a reader writes:

Hello sir! I’m an O-5 (USNR) with 19 years and I stumbled upon your website/blog. All I can say is AWESOME! You put things in plain English when many other websites and instructions either “beat around the bush” or use vernacular that usually leads to more questions! BZ! I was hoping you could answer one question for me. Since I am at 19 years in the Navy (seven years active / 12 years Reserve) – I am trying to weigh my options when I go over 20.

After I hit 20, if I am on the O-6 promotion list and then immediately choose to transfer to the IRR, would I be able to retire as a CAPT? Would I have to serve as a CAPT for at least three years in the IRR and if I earn enough points for a good year, does that mean I could eventually “retire awaiting pay” and retire as an O-6? I guess that was a long-winded way of asking, can you be promoted to O-6 in the IRR and earn good years in the IRR?

Thanks! Eight years of instructor duty, most of it with submariners: complex concepts, simple words.


The big-picture answer to your question is that you can go to the Individual Ready Reserve after you’re selected for O-6. Once you’re in the IRR you’ll have to continue to earn your “good years” in order to satisfactorily complete your time in grade.

The details:

Officers are eligible for promotion while they’re in the IRR, but I have never heard of anyone getting promoted while they were in the IRR. It’s possible, but there are too many Reservists on mobilization and drilling status who have probably done more things to earn the selection board’s attention. You’ll hopefully be drilling (or mobilizing) at least until you reach 20 years and get your Notice of Eligibility letter.  Ideally you’ll keep at it until you’re selected for O-6 and the selection results are approved by Congress.

Once you’re selected for O-6, though, you can go to the IRR whenever you want. (Even before you’re formally promoted to O-6.) No matter what timing you choose, the only way your time in grade will accrue is by being in the active or standby Reserve. You could hypothetically do that in a pay billet (if you get one), or by getting mobilized, or by drilling in the Volunteer Training Unit. If you’re in the IRR, though, you’ll probably do it by correspondence courses or special duty (funeral detail), or by other individual arrangements with your chain of command. (You may also want to see if you can earn points by serving as a U.S. Naval Academy Blue & Gold Officer.) IRR members still have to show up for annual musters and maintain whatever other readiness status is required by your chain of command (medical & dental screenings, staying within physical standards). Time in grade only counts when you earn a good year.

Your O-6 time in grade is normally three years, whether you’re drilling or mobilizing or in the IRR– as long as you accumulate your good years. However when you request retirement you can also request a waiver to reduce the TIG requirement to two years. That’s routinely approved for most retirements and would almost certainly be approved for a retirement from the IRR during a drawdown.

No matter when you choose to submit your retirement request, make sure you review your options under the Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan and Tricare Retired Reserve. The first is an exceptionally inexpensive life insurance annuity that offers more benefits than any civilian policy. The second will provide health insurance (up through age 60) that might even be cheaper than some civilian programs.

(Click here to return to the top of the post.)

All of the related Reserve & National Guard articles:
Should you join the Reserves or National Guard?
Reserves and National Guard: Tricare Reserve Select and Tricare Retired Reserve health insurance
Retiring from the Reserves and National Guard
Calculating a Reserve retirement
Why are you researching Reserve retirement?
Military Reserve and National Guard retirement calculators
The Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan
Survivor Benefit Plan
More SBP details
Reader questions on Reserve retirement Tricare and points
Guest Post Wednesday: “My Road to a Reserve Retirement”
Military Reserve sanctuary and active-duty retirement
Reserve military retirement for active-duty veterans with previous Reserve or National Guard service
Navy Reserve retirement credit for ROTC summer training
Reserve military pension for “discharge” instead of “retired awaiting pay”
Ask the readers: Returning to duty after military retirement?

Does this post help?

Sign up for more free tips on financial independence and military retirement by Facebook, Twitter, or e-mail!