WSPRS Plan 1: Interruptive Military Service Credit

Updated March 2017

This publication is for Plan 1 members of the Washington State Patrol Retirement System (WSPRS). The distribution of military service credit is governed by both state and federal laws. The laws described here are federal, which take precedence over state law. State law is applied only when a member completed military service prior to Dec. 4, 1974, or can’t meet federal requirements.

What is interruptive military service?

If you take a leave of absence from your WSPRS-covered position to serve in the United States military, you are interrupting membership in your retirement system.

If you return to a WSPRS-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.

What qualifies as U.S. military service?

Your military service must have been with the armed forces of the United States. That includes Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Marine Reserves, Coast Guard and National Guard.

How do I recover interruptive military service credit?

To recover interruptive military service credit, you must:

  • Leave WSPRS-covered employment to serve in one of the armed forces of the United States
  • Receive an honorable discharge
  • Return to employment with your DRS-covered employer within 90 days of leaving military service
  • Send DRS a copy of your DD214, or Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty
  • Send DRS a copy of the certificate you received with your campaign badge or medal (for no-cost military leave credit only)

We will review your documents and employment history and notify you of our findings.

How much military service credit can I recover?

You can recover up to five years of interruptive military service credit, depending primarily on when you complete your military service.

If you complete service on or after Oct. 6, 1994, you can recover up to five years. If you completed service before that, how much you can recover depends on the type of military service you provided. If this includes you, call DRS for more information.

Federal law offers exceptions that allow some people who have served more than the maximum years of service to receive additional service credit. For more information, contact DRS.

How much will I have to pay?

In most cases, you must pay the same amount of money you would have contributed if military service hadn’t interrupted your employment. You must present proof of your military service and make the required payments.

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. In certain circumstances, 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 recover your military service credit within five years, you can still buy service credit but at a higher cost.

What if I die or become disabled as a result of my military service?

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. Contact DRS for more information.

Must I rejoin WSPRS-covered work within a certain time frame?

The time limits for initiating reemployment after serving in the military depend on several factors, including when you completed military service. If you completed military service on or after Oct. 6, 1994, the following timelines could apply to you:

  • You served for 30 days or fewer: Report to your employer no later than the start of the first regularly scheduled workday after completing and returning from service.
  • You served between 30 and 180 days: Submit an application for reemployment within 14 days of completing and returning from service.
  • You served 181 days or more: Submit an application for reemployment within 90 days of completing and returning from service.
  • You were hospitalized as a result of your service: You have up to two years of recovery time to submit an application for reemployment.

If you completed military service on or before Oct. 5, 1994, contact us for more information.

This document is a summary. It is not a complete description of military service credit. State retirement laws govern your benefit. If a conflict exists between the information in this document and what is contained in current law, the law governs.

Beneficiary Designation

Members, you can update your beneficiary information from your online retirement account. Select “My Account” in the navigation menu and then “View/Edit” beside “Beneficiary.”

(If you prefer to fill out and mail in a printed form, select this link.)