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Office of the New York State Comptroller’s Seal

NYS Comptroller

Thomas P. DiNapoli

Military Service Credit

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If you served in the U.S. Armed Forces, you may be eligible to purchase credit toward your retirement benefit for your military service. Because service credit is a factor in calculating a NYSLRS retirement benefit, in most cases buying military service credit will increase your pension. You can receive credit whether your military service was before or after you joined NYSLRS.

Reserve and National Guard duty that is considered active duty may qualify.

Cost and Benefit

There are different sections of the law that allow credit for military service. The cost of the credit depends on which section of the law applies in your case, and in some circumstances there is no cost. Once we receive your request, we will determine under what section(s) you qualify and which would provide the best benefit.

In most cases, buying military service credit will increase your pension, but there are exceptions. For example, certain retirement plans have a maximum benefit, and military service credit cannot increase that maximum.

Military service credit can help you reach retirement milestones such as vesting, qualifying for a better retirement benefit calculation, and meeting the service credit requirement for a special 20- or 25-year plan. For example, if you have 19 years of service but your pension will improve substantially at 20 years, your military service credit can be used to reach the 20 years.

Most members can use our Benefit Projection Calculator to estimate their retirement benefit. Try estimating your retirement benefit with and without the military service credit to see how it will change if you purchase all or part of your military service.

Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) Tier 5 and 6 members, Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS) members who joined since July 1, 2009, and certain ERS members in special 20- and 25-year retirement plans cannot use the Benefit Projection Calculator. They can contact our Call Center to determine if purchasing military service credit would increase their pension benefits.

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Receiving Military Service Credit Under Article 20 (RSSL)

Eligibility

Veterans must:

  • Have received an Honorable discharge for the period of service requested;
  • Have at least five years of credited service in the Retirement System;
  • Have not received credit for this service in any other public retirement system in New York State; and
  • Apply for and purchase military service credit before retirement.
Estimate Your Cost

For Tier 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 members, the cost will be 3 percent of your earnings during the year of credited service immediately before we receive your request, times the number of years of military service being claimed.

Example:

Member earned $50,000 over the last 12 months and is eligible to purchase three years of military service

$50,000 × 3% (0.03) × 3 years = $4,500

For Tier 6 members, the cost will be 6 percent of your earnings during the year of credited service immediately before we receive your request, times the number of years of military service being claimed.

Example:

Member earned $50,000 over the last 12 months and is eligible to purchase three years of military service

$50,000 × 6% (0.06) × 3 years = $9,000

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Receiving Military Service Credit Under Sections 242 and 243

Section 243

Eligibility

Veterans must:

  • Be a member of the Retirement System before entering the military;
  • Enter the military within six months of your last employment; and
  • Have returned to the same employer while their NYSLRS membership was still active.

Cost depends on your plan and tier.

Section 242

Eligibility

Veterans must:

  • Be a member of the Retirement System before entering the military; and
  • Return to public employment.

Cost depends on your plan and tier.

Note: Members who were called to active military duty from August 1, 1990 to December 31, 1992 or from September 11, 2001 to December 31, 2005 do not have to pay for this credit, provided they did not receive full salary from a participating employer and are otherwise eligible to receive military service credit under Section 242 or 243.

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Federal Legislation

Members may be able to receive credit for military service based on federal legislation. The following federal legislation, for pension purposes, allows a reemployed person to be treated as not having incurred a break in service with their employer during the person’s period of military service, as specified in the legislation.

Veterans Reemployment Rights Statute (VRR)

Veterans must have been employed by a participating employer of the Retirement System within six months prior to entering the military and must have applied for reemployment with the same employer within 90 days from their discharge date.

Uniform Services Employment Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)

This act replaces the VRR, effective December 12, 1994. Veterans must have been a member of the Retirement System prior to entering the military. This statute does not specify a limit on the period of time in advance of military service that employees may leave employment. If employers consider they were properly notified, so will the Retirement System. If military service exceeds 180 days, you must have applied for reemployment with the same employer within 90 days from the date of discharge.

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How to Apply

Regardless of what section of the law applies to you, to apply for military service credit, submit a completed Request to Purchase Service Credit (RS5042) Adobe pdf (RS5042) form and a copy of your (DD-214), or official documentation that provides the specific dates of active duty service, the type of discharge and the branch of service. You can:

  1. Fax your documents to 518-486-6405 or 518-402-7799;
  2. Email your documents to us using our secure email form; or
  3. Mail your documents to:

NYSLRS

Military Service Credit Unit

110 State Street

Albany, NY 12244-0001

You’ll receive an acknowledgement letter once we begin processing your request. Current processing time is about three months, but processing time can vary depending on the number of requests we receive. If you have questions, email us using our secure email form. If you do not have your DD-214 form, you can request a copy through the National Archives’ Veterans Service Records website.

You must purchase military service credit before you retire. Vested members who leave the public payroll may request military service credit at any time before retirement. If you have already filed a retirement application, you must request and purchase the service credit before your retirement date. (If we do not provide a cost letter before your retirement date, the letter will include a payment deadline.)

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Paying for Military Service Credit

Once we process your request, we will inform you of the cost (if any) to receive credit for your military service. If you decide to purchase the credit, you can choose from three payment options:

  • A single lump sum payment.
  • Payroll deductions.
  • A trustee-to-trustee transfer. We can accept transfers only from certain types of plans. Details will be provided in our cost letter.

If you choose to make payments through payroll deductions, the length of time to purchase your previous service cannot exceed the total service credit you are purchasing. For example, if you are purchasing one year of credit, payment must be completed within one year. Also, you will be credited with your military service credit as you pay for it. For example, after six months of payroll deductions, you may be credited with 0.5 years of additional service.

If you pay for military service credit, and it does not improve your pension benefit, we will refund your payments with interest when you retire. Also, if you die, and the military service credit you purchased does not provide a better death benefit, the cost plus interest will be refunded to your beneficiaries.

Note: We do not accept payments from members who are off the payroll of a participating employer and are not vested.

(Rev. 10/18)

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