An officer's retired grade is governed by statutory regulations that delegate certain responsibilities to Service Secretaries.
10 U.S. Code § 1370: In order for an officer to be eligible for retirement in any grade above O4, the officer must have served for at least 3 years in that grade. This requirement may be reduced to no less than 2 years as authorized by the SECDEF. Only the President can waive the 2-year minimum and only in cases of extreme hardship or unusual circumstances. Officers who do not meet the TIG minimum in the grade held at the time of retirement are retired in the next-lower grade in which they satisfactorily served at least 6 months. In order for an active-duty officer to be eligible for retirement in the grade of O4 or lower, the officer must have served in that grade for at least 6 months. Reserve officers face the same requirements for retiring in the aforementioned grades, except that the required term of service must have been completed while on the RASL or during active duty service. In certain situations reserve officers must only have satisfactorily served at least 6 months in a grade in order to be eligible for retirement in that grade.
In order to be eligible for retirement in grades O9 and O10, the SECDEF must certify to the President and Congress that the officer has served satisfactorily in that grade while on active duty.
10 U.S. Code § 12771: Reserve officers who are transferred to the Retired Reserve are placed on the Retired List in the highest grade in which that officer has served.
Implements U.S. Law.
Air Force Policy
Follows U.S. Law and DoD Policy. See AFI 36-3203 for more details.
Implements U.S. Law and DoD Policy. See AR 600-8-24, Officer Transfers and Discharges, for more details.
OPNAVINST 1811.3: In order to be eligible for voluntarily retirement in any rank, an officer must first fulfill the minimum time-in-grade (TIG) for that rank. The TIG requirements are:
- O1 and O2: 6 months
- O3 and O4: 2 years (COMNAVPERSCOM may waive up to 18 months of the 2-year period)
- O5 and higher: 3 years (For officers subject to the 3-year period, only the President may waive any portion, except the minimum period of 6 months of the 3-year period)
Officers who desire to retire before completion of the minimum time-in-grade requirement must decline appointment to the next higher grade. Officers who have accepted appointment to the next higher grade must satisfy the retired grade criteria (frocking does not constitute acceptance of a promotion).
COMNAVPERSCOM may authorize a member who does not meet the applicable time-in-grade requirement to be retired in the next lower grade held on active duty.
OPNAVINST 1820.1B: Reserve officers who meet requirements for retirement shall be retired at the highest grade for which they have completed TIG requirements, which are:
- O1 to O4: 6 months
- O5 and higher: 3 years.
Marine Corps Policy
Implements U.S. Law, DoD Policy, and Navy Policy. See MCO P1900.16 with Change 2, Marine Corps Separations Manual (MARCORSEPMAN) (2016) for more details.