To qualify for military retired pay, you must meet the following criteria:
- Attain age 60.
- Not entitled to receive military retired pay through any other provision of law.
- Complete at least 20 years of qualifying military service.
- Members who earn their 20th qualifying year of service before April 26, 2005, must serve the last six years of qualifying service as a member of a Reserve component. No minimum service requirement after April 26, 2005.
*The FY 2008 National Defense Authorization Act reduced the age at which a member of the Ready Reserve can draw retired pay (normally 60) by 3 months for every aggregate 90 days of active duty performed after 28 January 2008. The 2015 NDAA allows for the 90 day period of active duty to be served over two successive fiscal years, beginning with activations after September 30, 2014.
Qualifying Military Service Includes ...
Only uniformed service - active duty or in a reserve status as a commissioned officer, warrant officer, flight officer or enlisted person in any of the uniformed services - can be credited as qualifying service toward the minimum 20-year requirement. A "creditable retirement year" is any year in which at least 50 retirement points were earned. Retirement points credited for activities other than active service or Funeral Honors Duty many not exceed:
- 60 for service prior to 23 Sept 1996,
- 75 between 23 Sept 1996 and prior to 30 Oct 2000,
- 90 between 30 Oct 2000 and prior to 29 Jan 2008,
- 130 for 29 Jan 2008 and beyond.
Service points are generally credited for:
- Active duty and active duty for training - one point for each day.
- Membership in an active status of a reserve component - 15 points for each year.
- Authorized drills - one point per drill.
- Satisfactory completion of authorized correspondence courses.
- Funeral Honor Duty - one point per incident of service.
Getting Your Notification of Eligibility
Written notification (called the Notice of Eligibility or NOE) is sent to the servicemember within a year following completion of the required service. Upon issuance of the NOE, the reservist cannot be denied retired pay at age 60, even if an error revealed that the retiree actually has less than 20 years of qualifying service (unless the notice was issued as the result of fraud on the part of the member). The NOE must include the elections available under the RCSBP and the effects of such elections.
If you have completed 20 years of qualifying service but have not been notified of your eligibility, you need to write to your military department and request your NOE letter.
**NOE is also known as your “20-year letter”**
When Does Military Retired Pay Begin?
Eligibility for your first monthly retired pay is 30 days after your 60th birthday. If you apply after age 60, your pay will be retroactive to your 60th birthday. Your claim must be received within 6 years after your 60th birthday to receive your full entitlement. If the claim is filed more than 6 years after age 60, one day's retired pay will be lost for each day's delay. Delaying the application after age 60 can affect your Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) and health care benefits. The risk increases if you have not elected one of the options available under the Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan (RCSBP). Retirement pay stops with the death of the servicemember unless the SBP election has been made.
**You must APPLY for military retired pay; it is not automatic**
Gray Area Retiree
A servicemember who has received his/her 20-year letter and joined the retired reserves (no longer drilling) but is not yet eligible for retired pay because they are not yet age 60.
RCSBP (Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan)
Upon receiving NOE, you have three options regarding SBP:
- Option A. No change from the standard plan. The member can decline to make an election for or against SBP coverage until attaining age 60. Consequently, there would be no coverage in the years between becoming retirement-eligible and attaining age 60. And coverage for the time beyond age 60 would remain subject to the retiree's election upon becoming entitled to retired pay. At that time the provisions of the standard SBP law would apply.
- Option B. A survivor annuity payable on the date the member would have attained age 60 if death occurs before that date. If death is after 60, the annuity begins the day after the date of death.
- Option C. A survivor annuity payable on the day after the date of the member's death whether before or after ago 60.
Upon receipt of military retired pay at age 60, the retired guard or reserve member is entitled to the same military benefits as his/her active duty counterpart (most importantly, TRICARE).
For more information, please visit your branch's website: