Retainer vs. Retired

Retainer vs. Retired

Retainer vs. Retired

Military retirement pay differs from civilian retirement pay systems in that there’s no vesting, no matching funds, no interest, and no special retirement accounts. Military retirees abide by a code of laws particular to them called the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), which enables them to be court-martialed for misbehavior during their retirement. A military retiree is subject to be obligatorily returned to active duty for reasons deemed appropriate by the military.

Understanding Retainer versus Retired

The number of years before a military retiree is eligible to retire is contingent upon the branch of military they served under. The Army, Air Force, and Coast Guard require 20 years of military service. After receiving retirement orders the member is considered a retired member.

The Navy and Marine Corps vary from the Army, Air Force, and Coast Guard, as a member is considered retired for allocation purposes if they are an enlisted member accruing more than 30 years of service, a warrant, or a commissioned officer with 20 or more years of military service.

Those in the Navy and Marine Corps unable to meet the 30 years of service requirement but have accrued more than 20 years are transferred to the Fleet Reserve/Fleet Marine Corps Reserve, and their pay is considered retainer pay.

Retired pay and retainer pay are considered the same by the law as the amount of retainer pay and retired pay an individual receives are unvarying.

Recall to active duty

The term “retainer” is used by the military when referring to some retirees is to distinguish the individual to Congress and the public and differentiate the military retirement system. Military members or retired personnel can be recalled to serve active duty if needed. Military officials distinguish military retirement/retainer pay as “reduced pay for reduced services” for this reason.

Individual in better health are more apt to be recalled to active duty than those who are older, in poor health, or have a disability.

Three categories utilized by the Department of Defense (DOD) Directive 1352.1 separate veterans, with those most likely to be recalled under Category I. These categories are:

  • Category I: Nondisabled military retirees under the age of 60 who have been retired less than five years. This category is disposed to be recalled during times of war, national emergency, or “needs of the service”.
  • Category II: Nondisabled military retirees under the age of 60 who have been retired five years or more.
  • Category III: Military retirees age 60 or older and those retired for disability.

Though it does not occur often, military retirees of all ages can be recalled to active duty to face court-martial charges. Generally, the civilian justice system processes military retirees acting with misconduct.

Retirement versus discharge

Those who qualify for retirement by honorably serving at least 20 years of military service qualify for retirement pay whereas those that are discharged short of 20 years do not. There is no vesting with the military retirement program as with civilian retirement programs.

This applies to all members of the military with the exception of those offered early retirement programs during the 1980’s and 1990’s drafted to lessen the size of the armed forces.

A service member’s discharge characterization must be honorable in order for them to receive retirement pay.

10 Comments
  • David L Brucher
    Posted at 00:13h, 04 April Reply

    Where is the information on what grade you might be called up in??
    I served 8 years enlisted, 10 years as RA Warrant, then 3 as O-3. Retired 1994 on the (O-4) list.
    Working since then, in my medical specialty, for another 26 years may qualify me for a bump in grade.
    To ask me to give up retired pay and return at the previous grade seems a bit one sided.
    Am I being unreasonable here?

  • Michael C.
    Posted at 15:23h, 23 March Reply

    Here is a question I have. If a person is recalled to active duty for court martial and then found not guilty, is there retired pay recalculated for the active duty service they performed while under investigation and trial?

  • Tommy Harris
    Posted at 13:45h, 26 February Reply

    A local political candidate says he is a retired AF Officer. He also says he served ten years. When questioned, he said that military officers who serve ten years are considered retired and subject to recall. Ten years? Never heard of anybody calling themselves retired after ten years service unless it was some kind of medical retirement. Is that true??

  • Dr. M. Shaheed Aadam
    Posted at 08:05h, 30 January Reply

    Well if this is the case, can a person be advanced in retirement? Since we are under a lifetime of service to Uncle Sam?

    • George
      Posted at 21:03h, 29 March Reply

      That’s BS. He ain’t retired.

  • Ed
    Posted at 14:11h, 06 December Reply

    Do you become ineligible for recall after 30 years?

  • Kevin Brown
    Posted at 00:27h, 26 November Reply

    SFC Kevin M. Brown retired 30 Nov 2008 recalled 20 Jan 2010 to be court/ martialed and convicted for allegations of sexual assault on my step daughter. I looked at the judge Kavanahh case and it was the same only difference I didn’t have the support or a good lawyer. I lost my retirement and still even after they denied all appeals seeking help finding regulation as to who has authority to recall a retiree to active duty not the assistant of army can someone help contact me anytime I was dragged over the coals thanks to what Obama said zero tolerance courtmartialed and dishonorable discharge period.

  • Michael A Blackburn
    Posted at 00:49h, 10 November Reply

    You’re not too bright huh? So, you’re saying you spent 20 in the Air Force and had no idea about the UCMJ as it applies? I want to think that your just being silly instead of stupid.

  • Will B
    Posted at 23:34h, 28 October Reply

    Yes, if you retired from the Regular component of a military service, you are bound by the provisions of Article 2(4) of the UCMJ for the rest of your life. Several US Supreme Court decisions have affirmed this in recent years, and it has periodically been affirmed by courts since at least the 1880’s…
    This is one of the conditions of receipt of retired pay you agreed to upon requesting retirement in lieu of discharge, as retirees maintain military status under the law forever.
    If you do not wish to be so bound, you may petition your Service to be fully discharged from all military status and obligations; for the most part, this would mean only that your retired pay would probably stop increasing each year with the annual COLAs, as “former members” are not entitled to the benefits of increased retired pay (which is lawfully considered at least partially as compensation for continued readiness), since they are no longer part of the military.
    In theory, as a retired NCO, if you violated the UCMJ and met all the elements of a punitive Article of the UCMJ…yes, you could be charged. Does this happen in the real world? Not very often at all…and usually only for egregious offenses like rape, murder, larceny of massive sums of money (or equipment), etc.
    If you deliberately and knowingly disrespected an officer in a bar, and that officer (or another servicemember who witnessed it) charged you with the violation of the UCMJ, would the local JAGs be likely to “take the case” and run you to ground and pull you back onto active duty to stand court-martial? No. Way too much work. What if you went to the location of the Chief of Staff, USAF, and struck him in public? Well, now you’ve done a heinous thing in public that can’t be swept under the rug, and something would have to be done…
    Height and weight regs typically don’t apply, by their very nature, to retirees. Nor things like requirements to meet medical readiness, annual dental exams, etc.

  • Steve S.
    Posted at 16:10h, 14 August Reply

    Wait, what??? Are you telling me that I have to abide by all provisions of the UCMJ even though I retired from US Air Force active duty more than 20 years ago? Does this mean that as a retired NCO, I could be charged with disrespect toward an officer (UCMJ article 89) because I fail to salute an active duty commissioned officer or mouth off to one in a bar?? What if I fail to maintain weight and fitness standards (articles 92, 98)? Wow. I don’t remember signing on to a lifetime of military regulation.

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