The federal Pension Protection Act (PPA) of 2006 was signed into law last year and became effective for the 2007 tax year. The PPA gives an “eligible retired public safety officer” the ability to claim a tax exclusion of up to $3,000 for amounts deducted from their OPERS retirement benefits for qualified health insurance premiums. The majority of OPERS retirees do not retire as public safety officers, so most are not eligible for this tax exclusion.

If you were performing active military service during a period of war or national emergency, you may be able to apply that time to your OPERS service credit. The periods of active military duty that can be used in the calculation of your retirement benefit are spelled out in the Oklahoma Statutes and certain restrictions apply. You can also find a list of these dates on the OPERS website at

Prior Military Service

Before working for an OPERS participating employer
You can receive up to five years of prior service credit if you are an active member of OPERS who served in the Armed Forces for specified periods of active military service and received an honorable discharge. The military service must have occurred before you started working for an OPERS participating employer. Those who were members of OPERS prior to July 1, 2000, are eligible for retirement credit for this service without cost.

Receipt of military retirement benefits does not disqualify you from receiving credit for military service with OPERS. However, if you were hired after June 30, 2003, you cannot receive credit for military service in OPERS if you already have credit for the same period(s) of military service in another Oklahoma state retirement system.

Participating Military Service

Immediately before and after working for an OPERS participating employer
If you are employed by an OPERS participating employer immediately before your active military service and return to employment with an OPERS participating employer within 90 days following your discharge, you may be eligible to purchase that time for service credit in OPERS. In order to receive participating service credit, you must not have withdrawn your contributions from OPERS, and the military service must be within the war or combat military area of responsibility or operation dates outlined in the Oklahoma statutes.

You can download an Application for Military Service from the OPERS website and submit it with a legible copy of your DD214 or other military documents showing date of entry, date of termination of active duty and an honorable discharge to apply for military service.

USERRA (Uniformed Services Employment & Reemployment Rights Act) 

A member who is absent from work due to voluntary or involuntary military service can take advantage of the right, created under USERRA, to buy back service credit lost during the military absence. USERRA applies to all types of uniformed service including voluntary and involuntary service during peacetime or wartime and active or inactive duty for training. To assert rights under USERRA, see your Retirement Coordinator, or contact OPERS immediately upon your return to employment. Certain time limits and conditions must be met, and contributions may be required to be paid before service can be granted.

This article was first published in the Summer 2009 edition of the Retiring Right newsletter. Click here to view other newsletters. Not receiving your newsletter, update your address by completing the Change of Address form.

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