Service credit

What is service credit?

Your service credit is the number of years you work in public service. Your employer reports this time to DRS. Depending on which retirement system you are in, your service credit might be calculated differently. Visit your online account to view your service credit history.

Service credit looks something like this:


DRS retirement pension formulas use years for your service credit calculation. In this example the service credit is 26.50 months, so dividing by 12 months would give us 2.208 years. Your total months divided by 12 is the number you would use for the service credit part of the formula.

See the partial month calculated in the year 2016 of the example? Employees who work at least part of a month earn partial service credit. See the following section for more information about how service credit is calculated for your plan.


How your service credit is calculated

Service credit is based on the number of hours you work, which your employer reports to DRS. No more than one month of service credit can be earned each calendar month, even if more than one employer is reporting the hours you work.

Each system and plan has different methods of calculating your earned service credit. For example, members of PERS Plan 2 or PERS Plan 3 who work at least 90 hours in a month receive one service credit for the month. But there is more to it than this. What happens if a PERS Plan 2 member works fewer than 90 hours?

See your plan handbook for specific information about how your service credit is calculated.

Washington State Public Employees’ Retirement System
Washington State Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS)
Washington State School Employees’ Retirement System (SERS)
Law Enforcement Officers’ and Fire Fighters’ (LEOFF) Retirement System
Washington State Public Safety Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS)
Washington State Patrol Retirement System (WSPRS)

Purchasing service credit

When it comes to purchasing service credit, members have a variety of options available. You can purchase an annuity to increase your income at retirement. There are also situations where you can purchase service credit after an absence, return from separation or from a disability.

Service Credit Annuity:

When retiring, plan members can purchase the service credit annuity, which allows you to add up to 60 months (5 years) to your service in the final pension calculation. Purchased service credit does not actually increase the number of years you’ve worked and won’t help you qualify for retirement, but it can make a big impact when it comes to your pension payment! Estimate the pension increase as well as the annuity cost through the “Purchasing Service” calculator in your online account. Find out more about DRS annuities.

Service credit for an unpaid, authorized leave of absence

You could qualify to earn up to two years of service credit for an unpaid leave of absence that your employer authorized. To do so, you must:

  • Return to work in a DRS retirement system-covered position
  • Pay your contributions with interest as well as your employer's contributions with interest for the period of time you were on leave

You must complete payment within five years of returning to employment or before you retire, whichever comes first. See Recovery of Withdrawn or Optional Service Credit:

Returning to work

If you leave your position, withdraw your contributions and later return to a DRS covered employer, you might be able to restore your previous service credit. To do so, you must repay the total amount of the contributions you withdrew plus interest within five years of returning to work or before you retire, whichever comes first. Contact us to find out that amount. It might still be possible to purchase service credit after the deadline has passed. However, the cost in that case is considerably higher.

From a disability

PERS, SERS and TRS members, you can purchase up to 24 months of service credit while on leave for a disability if you meet all the following eligibility criteria:

  • You were injured on the job on or after:
    • PERS or SERS: March 27, 1984
    • TRS: July 22, 2007
  • You are eligible to receive Workers’ Compensation benefits.

You pay retirement contributions plus interest on the compensation you would have earned had you been working.

If you are a member of WSPRS, PSERS or LEOFF, see your Plan handbook for more information.


Other service credit topics

Using service credit earned outside Washington State

Substitutes service credit

Military service credit