Working for the federal government comes with many benefits. As a federal employee, you can enjoy regular working hours, ample health benefits, a generous retirement package, and some protections against being fired or laid off.
However, many of these retirement benefits depend on your service computation date (SCD).
For that reason, it’s essential to understand what a service computation date is and how to calculate your own service computation date.
Once you understand your service computation date, you can plan your retirement date and assess when you will be able to access certain employment perks.
What Is a Service Computation Date?
A service computation date is a date used by the federal government to determine what benefits you should receive and when you should start receiving them. SCDs are applicable in both the current Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) and its predecessor, the Civil Servant Retirement System (CSRS).
That said, there are several different SCDs. A more precise service computation date definition depends on the type of SCD. Below are the four different types of SCDs.
Leave Service Computation Date
Your leave service computation date relates to your annual leave accrual. All federal employees gather annual leave at a rate of four hours per pay period during their first three years in service.
After three years of service, federal employees accrue annual leave at six hours each pay period. After 15 years, the annual leave accrual rate increases again to eight hours per pay period.
You can locate your leave service computation date on Block 31 of every standard form 50 (also called “SF-50”) in your personnel file.
Retirement Service Computation Date
Your federal retirement SCD indicates when you will be eligible for retirement. As with the leave SCD, it is usually the date that you began your first federal appointment.
However, the leave SCD and retirement SCD can vary if you served in the military prior to joining the federal service. Military veterans can choose to add their time in the military to their time in the federal service by “buying back” their military time and making that period of service count towards their SCD.
To do this, veterans must submit a “deposit” equal to a small percentage of their military base pay when they were on active duty.
Thrift Savings Plan Service Computation Date
The Thrift Savings Plan is a savings and investment retirement account that constitutes one of the core pillars of FERS. The TSP allows the employee to contribute their own funds towards a retirement account. The government will then match the employee’s contributions up to a certain point. It’s almost like a 401K plan operated by the government.
5 CFR §1603 includes a vesting requirement for the funds contributed by the government. Under this requirement, the government’s contributions to an employee’s TSP only vest after the employee has three years of service.
The TSP service computation date represents the date that a TSP participant begins to fulfill the three-year vesting period.
Unlike the retirement SCD and leave SCD, the TSP SCD does not include prior military service.
Reduction in Force Service Computation Date
Although rare, federal agencies occasionally lay off employees through a reduction in force (RIF). The agency determines who to lay off first according to seniority. The earlier your RIF SCD, the lower the chance that your agency will lay you off.
Unlike the other SCDs, your RIF SCD can be adjusted by your performance ratings over the previous four-year period. Your appointment type can also affect your RIF SCD.
How Can I Calculate My Service Computation Date?
Now that we’ve discussed the concept of the various service computation dates, you might be wondering, What is my service computation date? As you might be able to guess by now, the answer depends on which service computation date you are trying to calculate.
The leave SCD is easy to obtain because it is listed on your SF-50. However, the other SCDs are harder to calculate because they are affected by factors like prior military service and past performance.
For more information on your SCD, you should either contact your human resources office or a federal employment attorney.
Are You Considering Whether to Sue Your Federal Employer?
Federal agencies are far from perfect. A mistake by your employer could easily affect your service computation date and your access to government employment benefits.
If you think that your federal employer has incorrectly calculated your SCD or is wrongly denying you benefits, contact the Law Office of Aaron D. Wersing, PLLC.
Over the years, we’ve helped hundreds of federal employees with a wide variety of federal employment problems. We are committed to protecting the rights of federal employees.