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Glossary of Benefit Terms for Police Officers and Firefighters

The following glossary of terms is applicable to members of the District of Columbia Police Officers and Firefighters' Retirement Plan. This glossary was last updated in July 2013, and the following terms have also been defined in the Police Officers and Firefighters' Summary Plan Description 2012.

Active Duty is when you are working for (not retired or separated from) the Police or Fire Department.

Active Military Service is military service you performed prior to your hire date with the Police or Fire Department and includes honorable active service in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard of the United States. It does not include service in the National Guard, except when Guard members are ordered to active duty in the service of the United States.

For your prior active military service to be included in your total creditable service, you may be required to complete a purchase of service deposit for your prior active military service to avoid a future reduction in your retirement benefit. (For information on the purchase of service deposit deadline, see “Active Military Service Credit” on pages 25-26 of the Police Officers and Firefighters' Summary Plan Description 2012.) You do not need to complete a purchase of service deposit for active military service you performed prior to January 1, 1957. [See D.C. Code § 5-701(11)]

Adjusted Average Base Pay is the average base pay increased by the percentage increase (adjusted to the nearest one tenth of one percent) in the Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers (1967 wage base), published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between the month in which the Plan member retires and the month immediately prior to the month he/she dies. For Plan members hired on or after November 10, 1996 (Tier 3) and their survivors, the increase is capped at 3% per year. [See D.C. Code § 5-701(18)]

Annuity is a benefit that is paid monthly to an eligible recipient.

Average Base Pay for Plan members hired before February 15, 1980 (Tier 1), is the highest annual pay rate resulting from averaging your base pay over any 12 consecutive months as a police officer or firefighter. For Plan members hired on or after February 15, 1980 (Tiers 2 and 3), average base pay is the highest annual pay rate resulting from averaging your base pay over any 36 consecutive months as a police officer or firefighter. If you were earning pay at different rates of pay during any of the 12 or 36 consecutive months, each pay rate will be calculated based on the length of time it was in effect. [See D.C. Code § 5-701(17)]

Base Pay is your annual pay rate. It includes your regular pay plus any differential pay for a special occupational assignment. For firefighters, base pay also includes longevity pay. For police officers who have at least 25 years of total creditable service at retirement, base pay also includes longevity pay. Base pay does not include other pay categories such as overtime, holiday, or military pay. [See D.C. Code §§ 5-701(6), 5-723.02, 5-544.01]

Note: If you retired prior to August 29, 1972, longevity pay was not used in calculating annual retirement benefits. The Police Recruiting and Retention Enhancement Amendment Act of 1999, effective August 29, 1972, D.C. Law 13-101. [See D.C. Code § 5-544.01(a)(3)] Beneficiary is the person(s) you designate in a signed and witnessed beneficiary form(s) as eligible to receive:

  • a lump-sum payment of your life insurance proceeds and/or
  • a lump-sum payment of the retirement contributions you made to the Plan, if you die without leaving an eligible survivor. The payment for your retirement contributions is equal to:
           -- the amount of your total retirement contributions, if you die before you retire; or
           -- any remaining retirement contributions, if you die after you retire.

Calendar Year is a year that begins with January 1 and ends with December 31.

Civilian Service is honorable active service in the D.C. Government, or in the executive, judicial, or legislative branches of the Federal Government, including work in government-owned or controlled corporations and Gallaudet University.

For your prior civilian service to be included in your total creditable service, you must have:

  • had retirement deductions (other than for Social Security) taken from your pay during such service;
  • received a refund, including any interest you earned, of all of your retirement contributions you made during your prior service; and
  • completed a purchase of service deposit to the Plan while you were an active-duty police officer or firefighter. [See D.C. Code § 5-701(15)]

Creditable District Service for District health care purposes means all of your employment with the District of Columbia Government. [See D.C. Code § 1-621.03(2A)]

The Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Support Act of 2010 (Subtitle J of Title 1, “Police and Firefighter Post-Retirement Health Benefits Amendment Act of 2010” requires that a Tier 2 member must retire with at least 5 years of creditable District service and that a Tier 3 member must retire with at least 10 years of creditable District service to be eligible for District retiree health care. [See D.C. Code § 1-621.09(j)]

Note: These requirements do not apply if you retire on a service-related disability or are killed in the line of duty. D.C. Law 18-223, applicable October 1, 2011. [See D.C. Code § 1-621.09(k)]

Final Salary is the base pay you were earning at the time you retired or separated. 

Former Spouse is a living person whose marriage to a Plan member resulted in a divorce, annulment, or legal separation, and who is entitled to a retirement and/or survivor benefit under a court-issued QDRO that is accepted and approved by DCRB. For purposes of a former spouse being eligible for a spouse-survivor benefit, he/she is also a living person:

  • who was married for at least nine months to a Plan member who performed at least 18 months of total creditable service in a position covered by the Plan;
  • whose marriage to a Plan member was terminated prior to the Plan members' death; and
  • who is a party to a QDRO. [See D.C. Code §§ 1-529.01 et seq.]

Full Months is a complete calendar month.

Full-Time Student is a surviving child(ren) between the ages of 18 and 22 who is regularly pursuing a full-time course of study or training in residence in a high school, trade school, technical or vocational institute, junior college, college, university, or comparable recognized educational institution. A full-time student who reaches age 22 after July 1st is deemed to have reached age 22 on the June 30th of the year following the year the child actually turned age 22. [See D.C. Code § 5-701(5)(B)]

Lateral Law Enforcement Officer is any law enforcement officer who is appointed after January 11, 2000 with the Police Department pursuant to the Lateral Law Enforcement Act and whose position or duties are listed below:

  • a member of the Capitol Police;
  • a member of the United States Park Police;
  • a member of the Federal Protective Service;
  • a member of the United States Secret Service Uniformed Division;
  • an employee who performed duties in a position primarily related to the investigation, apprehension, or detention of individuals suspected or convicted of offenses against the criminal laws of the United States of America or any state of the United States of America, including a county sheriff and municipal policeman position; or
  • a person who performed in any capacity described above within 12 months of his or her application to the Police Department at Class 1 Private. [See D.C. Code §§ 1-610.71 et seq.]

Lateral Transfer Service is your prior service time that meets the requirements of the Lateral Law Enforcement Act or the Lateral EMT Act. If you were appointed after January 11, 2000, as a lateral law enforcement officer with the Police Department pursuant to the Lateral Law Enforcement Act, lateral transfer service is your years of prior law enforcement officer service. If you were transferred after October 2, 2001, from being an EMT with the EMS to become a uniformed EMT firefighter with the Fire Department pursuant to the Lateral EMT Act, lateral transfer service is your years of prior service as an EMT. Lateral transfer service is used with police officer service to determine your eligibility to retire and it is included in your total creditable service to calculate the amount of your retirement benefit, provided you complete a purchase of service deposit for such service while you are an active-duty police officer. Lateral transfer service is used with firefighter service to determine your eligibility to retire, even if you do not complete a purchase of service deposit. It is included in your total creditable service to calculate the amount of your retirement benefit, provided you complete a purchase of service deposit for such service while you are an active-duty member. [See D.C. Code § 5-704(i) and (k)]

Mayor is the Mayor of the District of Columbia or his designated agent or agents. [See D.C. Code § 5-701(12)]

Military Leave is military service you performed after your hire date with the Police or Fire Department and:

  • In accordance with the Uniformed Services Employment and Redeployment Rights Act of 1994, 38 USC §§ 4301 et seq. (USERRA), 20 CFR §§ 1002 et seq., military leave taken on or after October 13, 1994, means service in the uniformed services, such as, in the Armed Forces; the Army and Air National Guard; the commissioned corps of the Public Health Service; the National Disaster Medical System; or any other category of persons designated by the President in time of war or national emergency. [See D.C. Code § 5-704(d)]
  • Military leave taken before October 13, 1994 means honorable active service in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard of the United States. It does not include service in the National Guard, except when Guard members are ordered to active duty in the service of the United States. [See D.C. Code § 5-701(11)] Non-Service-Related Disability means a physical or mental illness contracted or an injury that was incurred outside the line of active duty as a police officer or firefighter that prevents you from performing your duties as a police officer or firefighter. [See D.C. Code § 5-701(2) and (19)]

Other Creditable Service includes your years of civilian service and/or active military service performed prior to your hire date with the Police or Fire Department. If eligible, such service is included in your total creditable service to calculate the amount of your retirement benefit. Civilian service and active military service are not used to determine your eligibility for a retirement benefit, even if you complete a purchase of service deposit for such service. [See D.C. Code § 5-704]

Note: You must complete a purchase of service deposit for civilian service while you are an active-duty police officer or firefighter. You may need to complete a purchase of service deposit for active military service. (For information on the purchase of service deposit deadline, see “Active Military Service Credit” on pages 25-26 of the Police Officers and Firefighters' Summary Plan Description 2012.)

Plan Member is an active-duty police officer or firefighter, or an individual who is separated (deferred) or retired from the Police or Fire Department.

Police Officer or Firefighter Service includes honorable service in the Police or Fire Department. You earn police officer or firefighter service credit while you are employed by the Police or Fire Department and you are making retirement contributions to the Plan. Your police officer or firefighter service does not include periods of suspension. Police officer or firefighter service may also include

  • military leave (military service performed after your hire date with the Police or Fire Department); and/or
  • approved leave-without-pay taken to serve as a full-time employee or officer of a labor organization that bargains with the D.C. Government on behalf of police officers or firefighters.

Police officer or firefighter service and lateral transfer service (if applicable) are used to determine when you are eligible to retire and is included in your total creditable service to calculate the amount of your retirement benefit. Your unused sick leave is added to your police officer or firefighter service to calculate the amount of your retirement benefit. Unused sick leave is not used to determine your eligibility for an optional retirement benefit. It is not added to police officer service to determine if a Plan member is eligible to have base pay include longevity pay when calculating an annual optional retirement benefit. [See D.C. Code § 5-701(10)]

Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is a court order that is in compliance with the D.C. Spouse Equity Act of 1988, effective March 16, 1989, D.C. Law 7-214 (see D.C. Code §§ 1-529.01 et seq.), and has been approved as qualified by DCRB.

Regular Survivor Benefit is an annuity paid to your eligible surviving spouse and/or your surviving child(ren). It may also be paid to an eligible former spouse who is a party to a QDRO.

Remaining Retirement Contributions is the difference, if any, between the amount of your total contributions to the Plan and the amount of the total retirement benefits paid to you prior to your death.

Service-Related Disability is a physical or mental illness contracted or an injury that was incurred in the line of active-duty as a police officer or firefighter, or a physical or mental illness or an injury originally suffered in the line of active duty and later aggravated in the line of active duty as a police officer or firefighter, that prevents you from performing your duties as a police officer or firefighter. [See D.C. Code § 5-701(2) and (19)]

Social Security Full Retirement Age is the age (65 or later depending on date of birth) at which an individual qualifies to receive full Social Security old-age retirement benefits, provided he/she has earned the required number of Social Security credits. You do not earn Social Security credits as an active-duty police officer or firefighter.

Social Security Retirement Benefit is a retirement benefit you receive from the Social Security Administration, provided you qualify. To qualify, most individuals need to complete at least 10 years of Social Security covered employment to earn the required number of Social Security quarters. You do not earn Social Security credits as an active-duty police officer or firefighter.

Surviving Child(ren) is an unmarried child(ren) of a Plan member, including a stepchild(ren), adopted child(ren), or recognized natural child(ren),

  • who is under age 18, or between the ages of 18 and 22, and a full-time student; or
  • a child(ren) of any age incapable of self-support because of a physical or mental disability incurred prior to reaching age 18. [See D.C. Code § 5-701(5)(A) and (B)]

This definition also includes a child(ren) of a legal same-sex marriage.

Surviving Spouse is the surviving husband or wife of a Plan member who:

  • if your death occurs before you retire, was married to you at the time of your death;
  • if your death occurs after you retire, was married to you for at least one year immediately before your death; or
  • is the parent of your child(ren). [See D.C. Code § 5-701(3) and (4)]

Note: A surviving spouse may be a same-sex spouse from a valid marriage performed in the District of Columbia or another jurisdiction. The Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009, D.C. Law 18-110, effective March 3, 2010 (see D.C. Code §46-401); the Jury and Marriage Amendment Act of 2009, D.C. Law 18-9, effective July 7, 2009 (see D.C. Code § 46-405.01). These changes only apply to your District service earned after June 30, 1997, for retirement Plan purposes. As of June 26, 2013, this definition also includes a same-sex spouse from a valid same-sex marriage for your Federal service earned before or on June 30, 1997 for retirement Plan purposes. United States v. Windsor, 570 U.S. 12 (2013).

Note: The Domestic Partnership Police and Fire Amendment Act of 2008, D.C. Law 17-358, amended D.C. Code §§ 5-701, 5-716 and 5-723 to include domestic partners as survivors. These amendments were subject to congressional enactment. Because the Federal government has not enacted similar legislation, they are not effective.

Note: Remarriage of a surviving spouse prior to age 55 will terminate a survivor annuity. [The Equity in Survivor Benefits Amendment Act of 2012 (D.C. Law 19-301), amending D.C. Code § 5-716(e)(1).] Prior to May 1, 2013, the remarriage age was 60. This change only applies to your District service earned after June 30, 1997.

Total Creditable Service is your combined full years and additional full months of police officer or firefighter service and, if applicable, lateral transfer service and/or other creditable service. It is used to calculate the amount of your retirement benefit.

Note: You must complete a purchase of service deposit for lateral transfer service and civilian service while you are an active-duty police officer or firefighter. You may need to complete a purchase of service deposit for active military service. (For information on the purchase of service deposit deadline, see “Active Military Service Credit” on pages 25-26 of the Police Officers and Firefighters' Summary Plan Description 2012.)

Uniformed EMT is an EMT with the EMS who, pursuant to the Lateral EMT Act, transferred after October 2, 2001, to the Fire Department.

Unused Sick Leave is added to your police officer or firefighter service to calculate the amount of your retirement benefit. Unused sick leave is not used to determine your eligibility for an optional retirement benefit. It is not added to police officer service to determine if a Plan member is eligible to have base pay include longevity pay when calculating an annual optional retirement benefit.

Service Contact: 
Member Services Center
Contact Email: 
Contact Phone: 
(202) 343-3272
Contact Fax: 
(202) 566-5001
Contact TTY: 
711
Office Hours: 
8:30 am to 5:00 pm