FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) About Military Service
If you are called to active military duty while a Member of the Pension System, you have certain rights. Through federal law (the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployments Rights Act-USERRA) and the Combined Plan Document, you have the right to purchase pension service for the period of your military service when you return to your job.
Read below for answers to basic questions regarding how military service affects your pension benefits. Police Officers and Firefighters should call your Department resources for information other than pension benefits.
If I am called to active military duty…
What military service is covered?
If your separation from active military service is honorable, any service with the following groups:
- U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard, including the reserve units
- Army National Guard and Air National Guard
- The commissioned corps of the Public Health Service
- Any other category of persons designated by the President in time of war or national emergency
How long can I stay in the military and still receive pension service from the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System?
Generally, you may purchase pension service for up to four years of military service (five years, if the fifth year is at the request and convenience of the government) for all periods of military leave during your lifetime.
What if I become disabled while on military duty?
If you cannot return to work because of your disability, your pension benefits will the same as if you left employment with your department at the time you were called to active military duty. You will have a vested benefit if you are not old enough for a service retirement.
If you return to your job at the department and a disability develops from something that happened while you were in the military, the type of disability pension (on-duty or off-duty) will be determined by the circumstances of the injury or disability, and the affects of on-duty work on the disability, with the final determination made by the Board of Trustees.
What if I die while on military duty?
In the event of your death, your pension plan survivor benefits will be calculated as if you left employment with the department at the time you were called to active military duty.
What if I come back? Will my job be waiting for me?
Your department will assist you with nonpension information. Please refer to the memo you were sent from the City of Dallas entitled "Employees Called to Active Military Duty." For more information, contact the Human Resources representative from your department.
What will it cost to buy pension service for the period of my military leave?
You will pay your member contribution of your calculated pay that you would have been paid if you had remained in service with your department.
How do I pay for my benefits for the time I served in the military?
Immediately upon return to employment as a police officer or firefighter, please contact a Retirement Counselor at the System for a calculation of the amount required to establish pension credit for your Uniformed Service Leave. Please note the following:
- Your release from active duty status must have been under honorable conditions.
- For full-time active military duty, you must apply for reinstatement with your employer within 90 days of your discharge.
- If you were in a reserve unit, you must return to employment within 31 days of your discharge.
- You can buy pension service for the period from the time you were called to active military duty until you return to your job as a police officer or firefighter (including any time off in between) through payment of your contributions.
- You can purchase the service interest-free with after-tax dollars by making payment in a lump sum or installments, but only if you do so shortly after your return (within a period of three times the length of your military service, but not more than five years after your return to employment from active military duty or December 31st of the year following your return, whichever is more beneficial to you).
- You can purchase the service credit in installments that span more than five years, but you must pay the interest on any amount remaining due after the interest-free period has passed.
- Payments may not be made after you terminate active service with the department, retire, or die.
- If you join DROP after you return to employment with your department, you may purchase pension service for the period of military leave with certain restrictions on when the service may purchased. Contact a Retirement Counselor for more information.
- In order to help remind members of their service purchase options, a letter is sent the first quarter of each year to anyone with a loss of pension service due to military leave from the previous year.
What if I am in DROP when I am called to military service?
If you are in DROP at the time you enter active duty military service, your DROP deferral will continue while in military service and when you return to City service. Because you do not earn pension service while in DROP (your benefit is already determined), there is no service to be purchased when you return to City employment.
What if I do not return to a position covered by the Pension System?
Your benefits would be the same as if you left active duty for any other reason on the date you left for active military duty, and you will not be allowed to purchase the lost pension service.
The information above is a summary of Plan provisions regarding the purchase of pension service for a period of military leave. Your rights are determined by the Federal law and the Combined Pension Plan Document.
We Are Here to Help.
We do our best to provide clear, understandable information to you. For more Member or Pensioner information, please contact us via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also call the Pension System office at 214.638.3863 or 1.800.638.3861, and ask for a Retirement Counselor. Our Retirement Counselors are trained to answer all your pension questions.