The Department of
Labor's Veterans' Employment and Training Service (VETS) has
information for veterans, National Guard or reservists who may be
activated for military service. National Guard and reserve
members called to active duty, and their civilian employers, have
certain rights and responsibilities under the Uniformed Services
Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).
VETS has developed a fact sheet and an interactive computer program,
the USERRA Advisor, which address the rights and responsibilities of
individuals and their employers under the law. These tools, and
information, can be found on the VETS
If you are on active duty for more than 30 days, you and your
dependents should be covered by military health care. For more information on
these programs contact your military unit.
addition, two laws protect your right to continue health coverage
under an employment-based group health plan. The Consolidated
Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) provides health coverage
continuation rights to employees and their families after an event
such as reduction in employment hours. The Uniformed Services
Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) is intended
to minimize the disadvantages that occur when a person needs to be
absent from civilian employment to serve in the uniformed services.
Both COBRA and USERRA generally allow individuals called for active
duty to continue coverage for themselves and their dependents under
an employment-based group health plan for up to 24 months. If military service is for 30 or fewer days, you and your family can
continue coverage at the same cost as before your short service.
If military service is longer, you and your family may be required
to pay as much as 102% of the full premium for coverage. You
should receive a notice from your plan explaining your rights.
another law known as the Health Insurance Portability and
Accountability Act (HIPAA) may give you and your family rights to
enroll in other group health plan coverage if it is available to you
(for example, if your spouse's employer sponsors a group health
plan). You and your family have this opportunity to enroll
regardless of the plan's otherwise applicable enrollment periods.
However, to qualify, you must request enrollment in the other plan
(for example, your spouse's plan) within 30 days of losing
eligibility for coverage under your employer's plan. After
special enrollment is requested, coverage is required to be made
effective no later than the first day of the first month following
your request for enrollment. If you are on active duty more
than 30 days, coverage in another plan through special enrollment is
often cheaper than continuation coverage because the employer often
pays a part of the premium. For more information
on the interaction of COBRA and HIPAA, see IRS Notice
98-12: Deciding Whether to Elect COBRA Health Care
Continuation Coverage After the Enactment of HIPAA.
When considering your health coverage options, you should examine
the scope of the coverage (including benefit coverage and
limitations, visit limits, and dollar limits), premiums,
cost-sharing (including co-payments and deductibles), and waiting
periods for coverage.
Yes. You and each of your dependents have a separate,
individual right to elect continuation coverage.
Yes. COBRA continuation coverage cannot be terminated because
a reservist receives health coverage as an active duty member of the
uniformed services and a reservist's family receives health coverage
under a government program such as TRICARE.
Under USERRA, you and your family should be able to reenter your
employer's health plan. In addition, your plan generally
cannot impose a waiting period or other exclusion period if health
coverage would have been provided were it not for military service.
The only exception to USERRA's prohibition of exclusions is for an
illness or injury determined by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to
have been incurred in, or aggravated during, performance of service
in the uniformed services, which is covered by the military health
For more information on your health benefits rights and options, and
the interaction of COBRA and HIPAA, link to the following publications on our
You may also
call EBSA's Toll-Free Employee & Employer
Hotline number at 1.866.444.EBSA (3272) to request one or more
copies of the publications or to speak with a benefits advisor.
If you still
have questions about your health rights or options, you may also contact
us by email.
health information for military personnel and their families is also
information on USERRA, contact the Department of Labor's Veterans'
Employment and Training Service (VETS) office nearest you. You
can also visit the USERRA Employee/Employer Advisor on the
Internet. This interactive program has been designed to
answer questions about the rights and responsibilities for both
employees and employers.
No. USERRA requires
that the period of military duty be counted as covered service with
the employer for eligibility, vesting and benefit accrual
purposes. Returning service members are treated as if they had
been continuously employed regardless of the type of retirement plan
the employer has adopted. However, a person who is reemployed is
entitled to accrued benefits resulting from employee contributions
only to the extent that he or she actually makes the contributions to
There is no requirement for your employer to make
contributions to your 401(k) plan while you are on active duty. However, once you return from military duty and are reemployed, your employer must make the employer contributions that
would have been made if you had been employed during the period of
military duty. If employee contributions are required or
permitted under the plan, the employee has a period equal to three
times the period of military duty or five years, whichever ends first,
to make up the contributions. If the employee makes up the
contributions, the employer must make up any matching contributions.
There is no requirement that the
employer contributions include earnings or forteitures that would have
been allocated to the employee had the contributions been made during
their military service.
The terms of the plan would generally govern this situation. However,
if some employees are permitted to designate individuals to act on
their behalf in other contexts when they are away from work, the
employer should permit the service member to designate someone to
act on his or her behalf also.
Savings Plan Web site
provides you with information about the benefits available to TSP
participants. Members of the uniformed services will
participate under most of the same rules and receive the same
benefits as civilian TSP participants. However, the
contribution rules are different for uniformed services members.
the TSP record keeper must maintain separate accounts for civilian
and uniformed services participants, participants who are both
Federal civilian employees and uniformed services members (i.e.,
reservists) may have two separate accounts. If you have two
accounts, you will need to review information about your accounts
separately in the civilian and the uniformed services sections of
this Web site.
booklet entitled “Summary of the Thrift Savings Plan for the
Uniformed Services” is available on the TSP Web site.
Yes. Under the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act (SSCRA),
creditors, including a pension plan, are required to drop
interest rates down to no more than 6% on debt owed by those entering
military service for the period of such military service. Further, under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act
the loan will not fail to be a qualified loan under ERISA solely
because the interest rate is capped by SSCRA. Under SSCRA, a plan fiduciary could petition a court to retain
a higher rate based upon the individual's ability to pay. Under
USERRA, a plan may, but is not required to, suspend the obligation to
make regular loan repayments to the plan during the period of active
plan fiduciary could petition a court to retain a higher rate based
upon the individual's ability to pay. Absent an order from the court, however, the plan fiduciary
would be obligated to reduce the interest rate.