Military Retirement With Reserve Enlisted And Officer Service

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A reader writes:

Thanks for your article, it is very informative! I enlisted in the active duty USMC in 1977, completing 3 years of honorable service in 1980. In 1985, I entered active duty USAF as an officer and served 7.5 years – again I was honorably discharged in 1992.

In 2001, I joined the USAF Reserves, again as an officer. Later I was passed over twice for promotion to O-4 and was discharged in 2006. To reach my 20 years of service I joined the Army Reserves as an E-5. I was promoted to E-6, have obtained my 20 year letter, and I am still serving as an IMA reservist in Korea.
I now have approximately 26 good years for reserve retirement, with 13 good years as an officer. I fall under the Final Pay retirement plan because I enlisted before 6 September 1980. Do I qualify to retire at my highest grade held (O-3), or do I retire as an E-6?

I have contacted the personnel people at Fort Knox in regards to my retirement grade question and I have not heard a thing. I was wondering if there is a particular section at USA Reserve Command to address my question and to get a retirement grade determination? If so, I would appreciate any contact information. Thanks.

Image of logo of Army Human Resources Command |

Who do we call?

The short answer is that you’re eligible to retire at an officer rank (and pension) under federal law Title 10 Section 3911. You’ve served over 10 years of commissioned service, and that requirement can be waived down to eight years through 2018.

I’ve seen one other situation where an Army enlisted member was entitled to retire at an officer rank due to previous commissioned service. The biggest problem with his retirement was that the Army’s Human Resources Command did not have an accurate record of his service.

Since you already have your Reserve retirement Notice of Eligibility (your 20-year letter), the Army is aware of at least some of your duty in other services. Your record on file with HRC also needs to document at least 10 years of commissioned service.

Next, you should review your Army Reserve record of your point count and your good years to make sure that Army Reserve HRC has all the information. It’s quite possible that they do not have any record of your 1977-80 Marine Corps service, all of your 1985-92 USAF active duty, or all of your 2001-06 USAF Reserve duty. They need to have that information in your Army Reserve personnel database in order to give you the right answers.

You appear to have at least 10 years of commissioned service, and Army Reserve HRC needs that documentation in their records as well in order for them to understand that you’re qualified to retire as an O-3.

As you’ve said, you’re also eligible for a Reserve pension under the “Final Pay” system. In order for the Defense Finance and Accounting System to correctly calculate your pension, Army Reserve HRC has to have your Marine enlistment in the personnel database.

Your Notice of Eligibility should include your point count and your good years that are reflected in the Army Reserve personnel database. If that information is not correct then your first step is getting all the data into the system and verifying the update with a new report. Ideally, your NOE will have the contact information for this project. If you’re not getting a response then it’s worth calling a department head at HRC or even the Commanding Officer’s office.

I recognize that you may not be able to access your Army Reserve personnel records online if you don’t have a Common Access Card or an account. If that’s the case then Army Reserve HRC may also be able to set you up with an account login and password.

I realize that you’re IMA, but you should also pursue these issues up your Army Reserve chain of command. If that’s the same people you’ve already tried then I’d talk to the personnel branch at your nearest Army base. If you’re still in Korea then you’d still start with your local Army personnel branch to get a good name, phone number, and e-mail address.

Once your record of service is correctly reflected in the Army Reserve database, you’re ready to submit your retirement request. That should include a printed copy of the information in the database, and ideally, the Army Reserve would approve your request as a Final Pay O-3.

Once you have an approved retirement then you’re ready to ask DFAS to confirm the start date and the point count/retirement rank of your pension.

Readers, we could use your help on who to call. Can any of you offer a point of contact at Army Reserve HRC, either with Fort Knox or elsewhere?

Related articles:
Military Retirement With Enlisted and Officer Service
Calculating a Reserve Retirement

WHAT I DO: I help you reach financial independence. For free. I retired in 2002 after 20 years in the Navy's submarine force. I wrote "The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement" to share the stories of over 50 other financially independent servicemembers, veterans, and families. All of my writing revenue is donated to military-friendly charities.

  1. If you were discharged for medical reasons after 20 years but unable to get the required time as a commissioned officer will they still put you back to your enlisted rank for retirement purposes?
    I had 21 good years. I was an 02E for aproximately 5 years only. Prior to that I was an E-% in The Army Guard.
    I was retired for medical reasons but not medically retired.

  2. I can also send a DFAS AUDIT REQUEST FORM to you if you would like.

    • First, Dave, congratulations! I’m glad the Army finally got your retirement right.

      Second, I hope none of the readers ever need the form, but I’d appreciate a copy to keep on file in case someone sees this post. Thanks!

  3. Doug,

    I REALLY JUST GOT THIS RIGHT WITH HRC THIS MONTH. DFAS cut the check for all of my back pay and it deposited in my account 07APR15. It took me from 20APR11 until now for the ARMY to get it correct.
    I retired 01MAR12 and the last 38 months of retirement have been spent getting what I earned. DO NOT GET A LAWYER, That was a 2700 dollar mistake on my part. Don’t WASTE YOUR TIME ON THE POLITICIANS, or SERVICE ORGANIZATIONS that say they will help. Don’t Call DFAS UNTIL THE BRANCH, ie HRC, gets it right. I hope that I blazed the trail and those who come behind will have an easier path to retirement. You will meet alot of resistance at the unit level, RSO, level, and much ping-ponging between offices at HRC. Tell them to read the Title 10 USC sections 3911 and 3926.The following people at HRC helped me resolve this but I had to direct them every step. You should have an easier time since my retirement should still be fresh in their minds.
    Mr. Jim Edinger at HRC IG (502) 613-4288, or
    Mr. Scott Gavre, Officer Retirements, Active Duty, or
    Ms. Swanson, HRC, Reserve Retirements Officer, 502-613-8414



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