How Does Delayed Enlistment Affect Retirement Pay?

Delayed enlistment occurs when a person signs up for active military duty but his date to report to active duty is delayed. Common reasons for delayed enlistment include attendance at a military academy such as West Point or the United States Naval Academy, Reserve Officer Training Corps and Officer Training School. Delayed enlistment has little effect on retirement pay.

Delayed Enlistment and Retirement

The military bases retirement pay from the date of initial entry to military service, also referred to as the date of initial entry to uniformed service. The military considers a person enlisted in the military from his DIEMS or DIEUS date until he officially retires or otherwise separates from the military. If a person signs up for military service in January 2014 but does not report to active duty until June 2014, his DIEMS date is the date he first signed up or enlisted in January 2014.

Military Retirement Pay Eligibility

Members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard who serve for 20 or more years are entitled to military retirement pay. For all branches of the military with the exception of Reserve units, retired military personnel begin receiving their benefits at any age after they retire. That means if a person serves from ages 18 to 38, she qualifies to receive her retirement at the time she retires at age 38.

Reservist Retirement Pay Eligibility

It is common for military Reservists to enter their respective military reserve unit under a delayed enlistment program. Nevertheless, the DIEMS date begins on the day the person enlists and not the day she reports for active duty. Reservists must serve for 20 years to be eligible to receive military retirement benefits. Whether they entered under a delayed enlistment program or not, they cannot collect on their military retirement benefits until they are 60 years old.

Other Considerations

A person who joined one branch of the military and left only to rejoin a different branch of the military later in life may be confused as to his DIEMS date for retirement benefits purposes. In this case, his DIEMS date is the date he first joined the military. For example, a person joins the Navy at 20, does a two-year hitch and leaves at age 22. At age 25, he decides to join the Marine Corps. He does an 18-year hitch and retires. He qualifies for full military retirement benefits because the date he enlisted in the Navy at age 18 is his DIEMS date, and his two-year hitch counts toward his total time in.