How Does Delayed Enlistment Affect Retirement Pay?

How Does Delayed Enlistment Affect Retirement Pay?
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The Delayed Enlistment Program (DEP) in the armed forces allows you to enter into the DEP and transition into the regular entry program at a later date. One of the most common questions is whether the DEP affects retirement. The most important factor in answering this question is your DIEMS or DIEUS date.

Active or Inactive Duty

Is the Delayed Entry Program considered active duty? Is DEP an inactive reserve? Those in the DEP are considered inactive reserves.

The status will be changed to active when you leave for boot camp. The DEP contract says that if you do not report for duty at the designated place and time, you will be ordered into active duty as a reservist.

The most common reasons for delayed entry are to finish high school or meet some other eligibility requirement. The maximum time allowed for delayed entry is ​365 days​. During that time, you are encouraged to attend meetings, classes and other activities at the recruiting office.


For calculating retirement benefits, the DIEMS, or DIEUS in the Air Force, is the most important date. The DIEMS date is your date of initial entry into military service. It is called the DIEUS, or date of initial entry into uniformed service, in the Air Force. It is the date that you first acquired military status. This can be as a cadet in senior ROTC, in the DEP, as a reservist or as a cadet at a military academy.

DEP and Time Served

Does the delayed entry program count as time served? The date you entered into DEP does count as creditable service. This is the DIEMS date or the DIEUS Air Force date when your retirement calculation begins for determining whether you will use the High-3 or Legacy Retirement System.

Any breaks in service will affect your retirement date and High-3 calculation. In this case, the calculation begins on the date you re-entered service without a break.

One of the most important dates concerning retirement is whether your DIEMS or DIEUS date is on or before the High-3 system went into effect. If you joined between ​September 8, 1980, and July 31, 1986​, you can either use the High-3 system or the Legacy Retirement System for the calculation of your benefits. After ​July 31, 1986​, your retirement pay will be calculated using the High-3 system.

Benefits of Delayed Entry

What are the benefits of the delayed entry program? Delayed entry is only granted if you have a valid reason for doing so. Usually, this is so that you can meet one or more of the requirements for entry into service.

This can include finishing high school or waiting for paperwork to be processed. You might be delayed if you are waiting on citizenship status or security clearance. It is usually not granted for personal or family reasons.

When you are in the DEP program, you are in the Ready Reserves. During this time, you will attend training, tour facilities and have some time to acclimate to military culture. You will also attend classes that are specific to your branch of the military.

Can you enlist after DEP discharge? Getting out of your contract with the military is difficult, but if you succeed, you will be given a general discharge. This means that you will be eligible to join the same or another branch of the military later, but you will have to get special permission to do so.