Updated January 2017
This publication is for Plan 2 and 3 members of Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS), School Employees’ Retirement System (SERS), Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS), Public Safety Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS), Law Enforcement Officers’ and Fire Fighters’ Retirement System (LEOFF), and Washington State Patrol Retirement System (WSPRS).
If you take a leave of absence from your Department of Retirement Systems-covered position to serve in the United States military, you are interrupting membership in your retirement system.
If you return to your DRS-covered position, you might be able to recover service credit for the time you spent in the U.S. armed forces. That service credit is called “interruptive military service credit.”
Service credit is one of the factors used in computing your retirement benefit, so increasing your service credit would increase your future monthly benefit.
Your military service must have been with the armed forces of the United States. That includes Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Marine Reserves, U.S. Coast Guard and National Guard.
To recover interruptive military service credit, you must:
We will review your documents and employment history and notify you of our findings.
You can recover between five and 10 years of interruptive military service credit, depending on your circumstance.
If your service was during a period of war or an armed conflict during which you earned a campaign badge or medal, you can recover five years of interruptive military service credit at no cost to you. You can also recover up to five more years of service credit by paying the contribution cost for those years.
According to the Department of Defense, approved campaign badges or medals include the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Vietnam Service Medal and Kosovo Campaign Medal.
If you don’t meet the no-cost criteria, you are still eligible to buy up to five years of interruptive military service credit.
If interested, contact DRS and we’ll send you a bill for the amount due. You must complete payment of the contributions within five years of returning to employment or before you retire, whichever comes first.
Whether you receive full or partial service credit months depends on when you served in the military. The service credit rules at the time of your military service will apply.
If you become totally incapacitated for continued employment as a result of your service in the U.S. military, you can apply for interruptive military service credit.
If you die while serving your country, your surviving spouse, registered domestic partner or guardian of your minor children can apply for your interruptive military service credit.
There are certain circumstances, on or after March 22, 2014, when members of LEOFF Plan 2 might qualify for disaster response benefits and service credit. In all situations listed in this section, your disability or death must have occurred while you were in eligible federal service providing eligible emergency management services.
Death benefit while working for a LEOFF Plan 2 employer
Your surviving spouse, registered domestic partner or, if none, the guardian of your minor child or children might qualify for an unreduced death benefit if you leave the employment of your LEOFF Plan 2 employer to provide a disaster response and you die on or after March 22, 2014. The benefit will be a minimum 10% of your Final Average Salary.
Disability benefit while working for a LEOFF Plan 2 employer
You might qualify for a disability benefit if you leave the employment of your LEOFF Plan 2 employer to provide a disaster response and you become disabled on or after March 22, 2014. Your benefit won’t be reduced if you retire early. The benefit will be a minimum 10% of your Final Average Salary.
Service credit for leave of absence while working in eligible federal service
You might qualify for service credit for your leave of absence if you become disabled when you leave the employment of your LEOFF Plan 2 employer to provide a disaster response on or after March 22, 2014. Your surviving spouse, registered domestic partner or, if none, the guardian of your minor child or children might qualify for this service credit if you die as a result of this federal service.
Contact DRS for more information.