Let’s talk about a skill everyone in the Air Force Reserve or Air National Guard should have. In addition to being able to read your Leave and Earnings Statement (or LES, for short), everyone should be able to understand their retirement points statement.
This will not be an in-depth article, just the basics. Also, to keep from constantly repeating, “Air Force Reserve or Air National Guard,” I will use the term “Air Guard” throughout this article.
But, why, D.J.? I’m just going to be in the Air Guard for a few years and then I’m getting out.
This statement tells you more than just what you’ll earn as a monthly pension if you stay for twenty years. It also tells you if you are eligible for other types of benefits. There will be a separate article about those types of benefits later. For now, let’s focus on the retirement and pension side of things.
Let me say from the outset that this article will be much easier to understand if you also have your own points statement in front of you. If you do not have one, be sure to ask the full-time staff at your unit for a copy. They should have the ability to pull that statement for you. It is also possible that you can find a copy in your electronic personnel record or pull a copy yourself from the MyPers website. I will post instructions on how to do this in the resources section of this article. You will need a Common Access Card (CAC) to access MyPers, by the way.
The points statement for the Air Guard is called a AF Form 526. It displays your retirement points, from top to bottom, from the earliest retirement year down to the last one completed. If you’re familiar with the old show, Dragnet, it is “just the facts, ma’am.” That is what we’re after in this game after all, the facts.
I will also put a link in the article notes to a handy how-to-read guide which will be useful to you. I will also be using this guide in my talk about how to understand your points. If you do not have a copy of your personal points statement, there is also a link to a sample points statement which you can use alongside this guide and hopefully gain a better understand of how to read this important document.
By the way, your actual points statement is several pages long. The “How-to-Read” guide has condensed the sections into one page.
The first relevant section of your points statement, called “Summary Information,” is on the left hand side and shows some pertinent information about you. Among other things, you will see your name, address, Personnel Accounting Symbol (a code identifying your unit), your Retention / Retirement Date (the start date of your retirement year), and your total creditable service for retirement purposes. That’s simple enough to understand.
To the right of the “Summary Information” section is another block called “Last R/R Year Points Earned.” This is a quick reference area showing information about your most recently completed retirement year. From top to bottom, it shows the start and end dates of that year, the total active duty, inactive duty, and distance learning points as well as membership points. Next you see the sum of all points for that year and the total number of creditable points (more on the creditable bit in a moment). Finally, you will see the status of that last year: was it a satisfactory year or not. If you see nothing but zeros, it was not satisfactory. A satisfactory year will be displayed as 010000. Anything else is a creditable partial year.
Let’s move on to the line the “All Points Earned” section. This is a detailed history of the active and inactive points earned during your service. The first thing you will see is a list of Type Duty (TD) Codes. This list will be useful in understanding the information below.
The first two columns underneath the Type Duty Codes are “From Date” and “Thru Date.” After that is a TD code and the number of points earned from the From and Thru dates. For example, if we look at the first period shown on the guide, we see:
From Date Thru Date TD Pts
10 SEP 2000 10 SEP 2000 7 002
We now know that a period of duty began and ended on 10 September 2000. When we look at the TD codes list, we see that 7 equals “Paid Inactive Duty;” in order words, a drill period. The Pts column tells us that two retirement points were earned that day.
Below the “All Points Earned” section, we see “Service History.” This is a very busy but informative section which summarizes every year of your service. The first entry should be the time at which you first joined the military in any status. Entries in these columns are usually but will not necessarily be one-year increments. Whether or not they are full years will depend on whether or not you had a break in service.
Now we move into the meat of the lesson. After the “From Date” and “Thru Date,” we have the “AD” column. This displays the number of active duty points (such as your annual training or mobilizations) you have earned. The only limit to ADT points is the number of days in a year.
The next four columns (across the top of the headers only) are “IDT,” “ECI,” IDS, and “MBR.” The IDT (Inactive Duty Training) column shows your drill points during the given time. The ECI (Extension Course Institute) column shows the number of points you earned from the completion of military distance learning courses (divided by three since you earn one point for every three hours of correspondence learning).
The next column, the IDS column (or Inactive Duty Status), shows points earned from Funeral Honors Details. While this is technically another a type of IDT point, it has special treatment (more in a moment). This is to encourage people to participate in funeral honors details. Lastly, the MBR column shows how many membership points you earned during this period (you can earn up to fifteen membership points for each full year in a reserve component).
Let’s do an experiment. Add the number of points from IDT, ECI, and MBR columns in a timeframe. Now look at the table below.
1946 – 23 September 1996 60
24 September 1996 – 30 October 2000 75
31 October 2000 – 29 October 2007 90
30 October 2007 – Present 130
If the total number of points you have is greater than the limit shown above, your points from these three columns will be reduced to that number.
Notice I did not include IDS in this math. While IDS points technically are another a type of IDT point, they are not subject to the point limit I mentioned earlier (in other words, they’re treated like active duty points). This is to encourage people to participate in funeral honors details.
Now let’s go all the way down to the “Total” line. Here you will see the total number of points you have earned from each category of point (inactive duty, correspondence, etcetera). Keep in mind that the year in which you are currently serving will not appear until your retirement year is completed or until you separate from service, whichever comes first.
The next column, “Retire,” shows the number of points earned or the points remaining after the point limits above have been applied. Only this column will be used when computing what your retired pay will be.
Now we come to the “Sat. Svc.” column. If the time period is a full year and you have at least fifty points for that year then you should see 010000 in that column. If the time is less than a year and you have enough points (prorated from fifty) for that time to count, you will see however many months and days are creditable. If you have a full year and less than fifty points, you will see 000000. This means that particular year will not count for retirement purposes. You will need to serve another year to make up for that “bad” year.
Now let’s go down to the “Total points accrued through” line. Here you will see the total number of points you have earned from active duty service, inactive duty, and all other columns.
Let’s assume that you’re currently serving and your total creditable service equals 191115. This does not mean you only need to serve fifteen more days in order to have twenty creditable years. The retirement points database in your service only recognizes full years. You need to complete the full retirement year before database will recognize that you have twenty full years and then you will receive a Notice of Eligibility for Retired Pay.
If you have service which qualifies for reduced retirement age, you will need to do some record keeping in order to claim that eligibility. Unlike the Army National Guard, your points statement does not reflect eligibility for reduced retirement age and does not break your qualifying active duty into separate entries for easy accounting. You will need to keep copies of your active duty orders, all amendments to those orders, your release from active duty, and your DD 214 from all qualifying periods in order to prove your eligibility to get retired pay early.
A retirement services officer from any reserve component should be able to assist you in determining when you are eligible for pay. If you do not have qualifying periods then your retired pay eligibility date will be your sixtieth birthday.
The last section we will cover is “Current R/R Year ECI Points.” This shows a breakdown of all of the distance learning courses you completed. It shows the date the course was completed, the course and volume numbers, and the points you earned from the course.
The rest of the statement is a list of terms and definitions which are useful in understanding the acronyms used on the statement. I will post that list as a separate document in the resources section of this article.
Hopefully, that was easy to understand for everyone. If not, please comment below and let me know what was confusing. I will be glad to answer any questions you may have.
Thanks for being part of this audience and thank you for your service.
How to Read an Air Force Reserve Retirement Points Statement
Sample AF 526
How to Pull a Copy of Your AF 526 (Pending)
Related YouTube Episodes:
Article 0004- The Notice of Eligibility for Retired Pay (Twenty-Year Letter)
Article 0005 – The Basics of the Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan (RCSBP)
Article 0014 – Calculating Retired Pay Under the Current (Legacy) Retirement Plan
Article 0009 – So, What is This Reduced Retirement Age Thing Anyway?
Related Podcast Episodes:
Podcast Article 0002 – The Notice of Eligibility for Retired Pay (Twenty-Year Letter)
Podcast Article 0003 – The Basics of the Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan (RCSBP)
Podcast Article 0012 – Calculating Retired Pay Under the Current (Legacy) Retirement Plan
Podcast Article 0007 – So, What is This Reduced Retirement Age Thing Anyway?
The Notice of Eligibility for Retired Pay (Twenty-Year Letter)
The Basics of the Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan (RCSBP)
When Do I Make an Election for the Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan?
How Much Will the RCSBP Pay to My Beneficiaries and What Will It Cost Me?
Should I Buy a Life Insurance Policy Instead of Choosing the Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan?
What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of the Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan?
What Are the Coverage Options for the Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan?
Who Can Be Beneficiaries of the Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan?
How Do I Enroll in the Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan?
Calculating Retired Pay Under the Current (Legacy) Retirement Plan
So, What is This Reduced Retirement Age Thing Anyway? – Part 1
So, What is This Reduced Retirement Age Thing Anyway? – Part 2