Retirement Benefits

Did You Serve in the Military? You May Be Eligible to Purchase Service Credit

Did you serve on active duty in the military prior to your CalPERS-covered employment? If so, you may be eligible to purchase up to four years of service credit.

Here’s how it works.

A service credit purchase is the purchase of additional time to increase your CalPERS service credit. The military service credit you may be eligible to purchase is based on the length of your active duty service with the U.S. military. Purchasing this service credit may help secure your financial future, because the more service credit you have at retirement, the better your retirement benefit may be.

Am I eligible?

You may purchase a maximum of four years of military service credit if you meet one of these eligibility requirements:

  • You are a current, former, or retired member of a CalPERS-covered public agency employer that contracts for this option.
  • You are a current or retired State of California or school CalPERS member.

You can’t purchase military service credit if:

  • You are receiving military retirement pay based on 20 years of active military service.
  • You are receiving disability retirement pay from the military.
  • You have received military service credit in any other retirement system.

How much does it cost?

The cost is calculated using the present value method, which is based on:

  • Your highest monthly full-time pay rate
  • Estimated future final compensation
  • Projected retirement benefit increase

Determining the increase to your future benefits involves a number of actuarial assumptions including your projected age at retirement, life expectancy, salary inflation, and the assumed rate of return on investments. These assumptions are the same as those used to ensure all our benefits are adequately funded. The cost to purchase service credit may increase the longer you wait.

How do I request a purchase?

Log in to your myCalPERS account. On the home page under Service Credit, select Make a Service Credit Purchase. Here, you will be prompted to answer a series of questions and provide service information for the requested period. Once all required information has been completed you can view the estimated cost for any available purchase options, submit your request for review, and upload your supporting documentation that shows your dates of active duty military service and the type of discharge you received (i.e., DD-214).

Elected service credit purchases must be paid in full by retirement, so we recommend you submit your service credit request as early in your career as possible. This will ensure you have time to pay the lump-sum balance in full by your planned retirement date to maximize your benefit increase.

For retired military members, you can make a purchase during retirement and have your monthly payments deducted from your current monthly retirement benefit.

Learn more

Our publication A Guide to Your CalPERS Military Service Credit Options (PUB 15) (PDF) provides detailed information on service credit options relating to time served in the military. The publication also includes information on how the military cost is calculated, how the service credit amount is determined, and more.

To learn about all the different types of CalPERS service credit purchases, eligibility, and payment options, visit Service Credit on our website.