WASHINGTON -- More reserve-component Soldiers may now be eligible to receive retirement pay before 60, if they meet certain criteria. As of January 2013, Congress authorized more categories to the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act, which originally applied only to reserve-component Soldiers serving in overseas contingency operations like Iraq and Afghanistan, said Sheila Dorsey, chief, Reserve Component Retirements. The way it works is that Soldiers can count 90 days of their tour toward 90 days earlier retirement for each fiscal year deployed, according to Richard Gray, supervisor of Retired Pay. That part is still in effect. The new categories include reserve-component Soldiers who are activated to respond to national emergencies such as natural disasters like hurricanes or earthquakes. Another category is for those in warrior transition units who were hurt while mobilized for such responses, Gray said.
The most important thing Soldiers can do to meet the criteria, Dorsey said, is to check their mobilization orders or their DD-214 discharge document. Those documents need to have any one of the following Title 10 or Title 32 U.S. codes annotated: 12301(a), 12301(d), 12301(h), 12302, 12304, 12305 or 12306. If one of those numbers is not there, either the Soldier won't be eligible or needs to see someone in the personnel office to get the appropriate code amended, she said. There are some exceptions to the rule. Soldiers who've demonstrated substandard performance are an exception, for instance. Gray said Soldiers can check with Human Resources Command for eligibility information. The HRC can be reached by calling 502-613-8950 or by visiting https://www.hrc.army.mil/tagd/reducedageretirement. While Soldiers who meet the criteria can receive retirement pay before age 60, they will still need to wait until their 60th birthday before they are eligible for Tricare, Dorsey said. Other than that, they will receive the normal retirement benefits such as exchange and commissary benefits. Despite deferred medical, Dorsey said she's already seen a number of Soldiers taking advantage of the early-age retirement option. DOING THE MATH Those Soldiers with the eligible U.S. codes can accrue reduced-age retirement as follows: During any fiscal year, Soldiers can accrue 90 days of early retirement. Fewer days will not count or be carried over to the next fiscal year and more days past 90 will not count and will not be carried over to the next fiscal year. That 90-day period does not have to be contiguous. It could be the sum of more than one mobilization, so long as it meets the U.S. codes within that fiscal year. For instance, a Soldier might have three 30-day mobilizations in one fiscal year. That would meet the 90-day criteria. Or, there might be six 15-day mobilizations. That too would meet the criteria. Any number of combinations that add to 90 days would count. If a Soldier is mobilized on Sept. 1 for just 90 days, that would not count because the fiscal year begins on Oct. 1, and only 30 days would accrue for the first fiscal year and 60 the next, assuming that no other mobilizations take place. Another rule is that the 90 days can accumulate over fiscal years. For example, if a Soldier gets 90 days credit this fiscal year, he or she would be able to retire 90 days before age 60. Then, if a Soldier also gets 90 days credit next fiscal year, he or she would be able to retire at age 59.5, or 180 days before age 60. The accumulative effect can continue for a number of years in 90-day blocks, with the only stipulation being that a Soldier cannot retire before age 50.