If you are called to service or volunteer for service in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard (or any of their reserves), Army National Guard, Air National Guard and certain other types of uniformed services, you may be entitled to certain pension rights upon your return to employment. In 1994, the Federal government passed a law called the “Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act,” commonly known as “USERRA,” to protect certain rights and benefits, including pension benefits of employees who are absent from work in order to serve in the uniformed services.
In general, USERRA requires OCERS to treat you as if you were actively employed during your period of uniformed service. For instance, USERRA requires that:
- You will not be treated as incurring a break in service with your employer as a result of your military service.
- You will receive service credit for vesting purposes for your period of military service.
- To receive service credit that counts towards your retirement benefit you are required to make-up any missed employee contributions to OCERS that would have otherwise been made by you during your military absence. If you don’t make-up these missed contributions, your ultimate retirement benefit may be reduced. USERRA requires that you be given a period equal to three times the length of your military service (but not to exceed five years) in order to make-up the employee contributions that you missed during your military absence.
In certain circumstances, such as a dishonorable discharge, you may lose these pension rights.
If you would like more information about your pension rights under USERRA, please call OCERS at (714) 558-6200 and ask about your USERRA rights. If you would like more general information about USERRA, the Department of Labor has published “The USERRA Advisor” and other USERRA information on its Web site at http://www.dol.gov.