Let’s talk about a skill everyone in the Army 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 is a long article so take it in pieces if that will help you comprehend it.
But, why, D.J.? I’m just going to be in the National 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 episode 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 episode 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 iPERMS, as it is called for Army service members).
There are several different versions of the points statement available in the Army National Guard. The first, called NGB Form 23A, shows not only your total retirement points, but also an estimate of your retired pay and the number of drills and active duty days you served in the last year. Personally, I do not like this version much because the pay estimate is based on assumptions that, in my opinion, are not as accurate as I would like. In fact, sometimes they’re quite inflated.
The next version, called NGB Form 23B, is just a statement of your retirement points. I prefer this version the most. 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 episode 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.
The top left corner of your points statement shows some pertinent information about you. You will see your rank and full name, the last four digits of your Social Security Number (older versions will have the full SSN), and the name, address, identification code and payroll number of your current National Guard unit. That’s simple enough to understand.
Let’s move to the top right corner. This area contains a great deal of useful information that is often overlooked by service members. The first two items are simple enough; they are the date the statement was prepared and the reason for doing so (usually upon request). Next, we will see a lot of acronyms, codes and numbers. This is usually a point of confusion for service members and, as a result, ignored. This is actually a very important section.
The third line in the top right corner says, “AYE.” This is the Anniversary Year Ending date. To translate, it means the date on which your unique period for earning retirement points will end. Keep this in mind. The anniversary year is not a calendar year or a fiscal year. It is different for every member of a reserve component. This is something to keep in mind when determining whether you have enough time to earn a good (or qualifying for retirement) year or not. The first two digits are the month and the second two are the day.
The next line says, “BASD.” This stands for Basic Active Service Date. If you were in an active duty status when the statement was prepared, there will be a date here. If you are not in an active duty status – in other words, a drilling soldier – there will be no date here.
The BASD reflects a compilation of all of your prior active duty service and, again if you’re on active duty, reflects the date your active duty service would have begun if it had been continuous service. For those Active Guard / Reserve soldiers who may be reading this and are wondering when you will be eligible for a regular retirement, just add twenty to the year and you will have your answer. Don’t worry about this date if you are a drilling soldier.
The next line is important for all service members. It says, “Notice of Eligibility” and then says YES or NO. This tells you whether a twenty-year letter (or Notice of Eligibility for Retired Pay, as it’s officially called) has been issued.
If this line says yes and you do not have a copy of this letter then you should check your electronic record. It should be there. If it is not, ask your full-time staff to request a copy from your state’s retirement points accounting manager (RPAM). This letter will be important to you in the future. See my episode on the twenty-year letter for more information.
Next, we have “Highest Grade Held.” This line should either be your current pay grade or, if you held a higher grade in the past (such as enlisted men who were commissioned officers at one point in their careers). If you not reduced for punitive reasons, that higher grade will not show up on this line.
I know one individual who was a major and resigned his commission. He came back as an enlisted member and became a sergeant first class. Later on, he was reduced to staff sergeant for misconduct. A few months later, he was reduced again to sergeant. His highest grade held now says E05 (sergeant) and not O04 (major) and it will never show the grade of major again. Keep your noses clean, guys.
The final line in the top right corner shows two critical elements of information. The first is RPED (or Retired Pay Eligibility Date). For most of us, the date shown here will be our sixtieth birthday. For those of us eligible for reduced retirement age, the date should show when we will able to receive retired pay before sixty. Contact your unit full-time staff if you have qualifying active duty service and your RPED still shows your sixtieth birthday.
Next to the Retired Pay Eligibility Date, you will see a number and “Pds.” This is the number of qualifying ninety day blocks of active duty you have. Each period should result in a three-month reduction in your RPED. Again, if you have qualifying service and believe this number is not correct, contact your full-time staff.
I know that’s a lot so far. Don’t worry. It gets much easier (and faster) from here.
Let’s move on to the line that starts with “Begin Date.” The first two columns are “Begin Date” and “End Date.” 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 what you see in the next column which is “MMSI.” The time frame in each the begin and end columns will change whenever the MMSI changes.
The “MMSI” column stands for the Military Membership Status Identifier. In laymen’s terms, this means the type of service for each entry. Don’t worry about remembering what all of these codes mean. There is a legend at the bottom (or next page) of your statement which will define each of the codes for you.
Now we move into the meat of the lesson. The next three columns (across the top of the headers only) are “IDT,” “MEM,” and “ACCP.” These stand for, respectively, Inactive Duty Training, membership points, and Army Correspondence Course Program (and other distance learning) points. These three columns are collectively categorized as Inactive Duty Training (or IDT) points.
The IDT column shows your drill points during the given time. The MEM column shows the number of membership points you earned during this period (you can earn up to fifteen membership points for each full year in a reserve component). The ACCP 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).
Let’s do an experiment. Add the number of points from IDT, MEM, and ACCP 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. This limit does not apply to the other types of points.
The next column, the “FHD” column, stands for Funeral Honors Details. While this is technically another a type of IDT point, it is not subject to the point limit I mentioned earlier. This is to encourage people to participate in funeral honors details.
Next, we have the “AD” column. This displays the number of active duty points (such as your annual training or mobilizations) you have earned.
The “VS” column stands for verification status. This tells you whether this period of service has been verified by proper documentation or not. If you see a V, the period is verified. If you see a B, it has not been verified. Points will not count unless the time period has been verified.
Now we come to the “Total Career Points” and the “Total Pts for Ret Pay” columns. The first column shows the total number of points you have earned for this particular period of time and the second shows the number of points remaining after the point limits above have been applied. Only the “Total Pts for Ret Pay” column will be used when computing what your retired pay will be.
At last we come to the last column, “Creditable Svc For Ret Pay.” If the time period is a full year and you have at least fifty points for that year then you should see 01/00/00 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 00/00/00. This means that particular year will not count for retirement purposes.
If the time period is less than a year and your service continues on the next line, you will see –/–/–. This does not mean the service does not count. It simply means your service time for that retirement year will continue on the next line.
Now let’s go all the way down to the “Grand Totals” line. Here you will see the total number of points you have earned from active duty service, your total career points, the total creditable points for pay purposes, and the total amount of service that is creditable for retirement purposes. Keep in mind that if the last entry above the grand total has two dashes in the “End Date” column, the points from that line will not be included in the totals until your retirement year is completed or until you separate from service, whichever comes first.
Let’s assume that you’re currently serving and your total creditable service equals 19/11/15. This does not mean you only need to serve fifteen more days in order to have twenty creditable years. The retirement points database 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.
Finally, we come to the “Military Membership Status Identifiers” section which tells you what all of the codes you saw in the MMSI column mean. After that, you will see another section for “Non-Creditable Periods of Service.” This section will include breaks in service and the types of service which do not count for retirement purposes (like, in some cases, being an ROTC cadet).
If you have service which qualifies for reduced retirement age, there will be additional sections which show the qualifying service and compute how much of a reduction in your retirement age you currently have.
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 joining me today and, of course, thank you for your service.