Getting Retirement Credit for HPSP in the Reserves

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In the recently released Winter Medical Corps Newsletter, I noticed this paragraph in the “Readiness in the Reserves” article:


I have just returned from PERS-9 (Reserves), reviewing important administrative processes. Here is the gouge…

HPSP Credit: Jeanitta Edwards verifies that the member was a HPSP participant and that the member is in a critical wartime skill (defined by DOD each year). Once she verifies this information, she sends it to another individual to load in the points for the year as credit towards retirement. The instruction requires a full year of service to receive credit for 1 year and caps the credit at 4 years. Unfortunately, because many medical schools start in July and graduate in May, the 4th year does not qualify. Some may have earned other points that year which can carry over for credit towards a good year. The 15 gratuity points are allocated on a pro rata basis so you will only get half those points for a half a year of participation. We will post the guiding documents to the Medical Corps Homepage. Please note that the actual HPSP policy is currently being rewritten.

A reader asked, “What are the official critical wartime specialties?”

Here is the portion of the document that lists them:

So what do those mysterious codes mean? They are defined in the Promo Prep, but since I’m such a nice guy here is the translation. The CWS include:

  • General Surgery (15C)
  • Neurosurgery (15D)
  • Orthopedics (15H)
  • Radiology (16Y)
  • Anesthesia (15B)
  • Internal Medicine Subspecialties (16R1)
  • Emergency Medicine (16P)
  • Flight Surgery (15A)
  • OB/GYN (15E)
  • GMO (15F)
  • Family Medicine (16Q)
  • General Internal Medicine (16R)
  • UMO (16U)
  • Psychiatry (16X)

Update just prior to publication – My wife (a Reservist) was sent this chart in the Health Professions Officer Special and Incentive Pay Plan, and the specialties under “USNR” match the list above:

If you are in one of these specialties, you can get retirement credit for your time in HPSP (or at least 3 years of the 4). In addition to the info above, here is what else I could find about this program:

Policy Guidance on Reserve Service Credit for Participation in DoD Health Professions Scholarship and Financial Assistance Program

Army Policy – Guidance on Reserve Service Credit for Participation in DOD HPSP and FAP

Recruiting and Retention Incentives for Reserve Component Health Professions Officers

42 thoughts on “Getting Retirement Credit for HPSP in the Reserves

    LT Frances Rosario said:
    March 10, 2018 at 00:53

    There are multiple USUHS students that have been trying to get the same clarification for our medical school time and whether our active duty ENS time would count as “good years” in the reserves. We do ODS for 6 weeks before typically starting school (June) and graduate in May.

    Would USUHS time count towards a reserve retirement (20 years total service) or would it get added on to retirement pay on the tail end (20 years from USUHS graduation plus an extra 4 years of credit added later = 24 years total service) just like an active duty retirement ?

    Have tried asking multiple sources and get conflicting answers.


      Joel Schofer, MD, MBA, CPE responded:
      March 10, 2018 at 07:03

      I think USUHS time only counts on the back end, but I could be wrong. The USUHS policy I’m aware of is here:


        LCDR Brian Park said:
        March 10, 2018 at 08:12

        Sir, I have also gotten conflicting answers from various sources. However, looking at what you have posted here, I am starting to feel convinced that we may actually get credit for USUHS years up front. Here is my reasoning:

        The USUHS memo states “such service must be credited under any provision of law based on active service unless such service is explicitly excluded. In this regard, 10 U.S.C. 2114(b) provides that the exclusions of 10 U.S.C. 2126 applicable to students in the Health Professions Scholarship Program are also applicable to USUHS medical students.”

        Under 10 U.S.C 2126 is where the “SERVICE CREDITABLE FOR CERTAIN PURPOSES” including the clause about critical wartime specialties is listed. I’d love to hear your thoughts!


        Joel Schofer, MD, MBA, CPE responded:
        March 11, 2018 at 08:38

        An e-mail from the Reserve Liaison at BUMED was forwarded to me. Here is what it said about the various scenarios for RESERVISTS (not Active Duty) with some minor edits by me:

        – If member went to USUHS, that time counts as active service on the front end of retirement.
        – If member did HPSP, then fills a Critical Wartime Specialty (CWS) billet, member gets 50 points per year, and gets sat years toward retirement on front end of retirement.
        – If member did HPSP, then is not in a CWS billet, member gets the 4 years’ worth of points on back end of retirement, after finishing 20 qualifying years of service.


    Scott Wallace said:
    March 10, 2018 at 05:15

    Hi Joel,

    If we completed HPSP and retire at 20 years active duty, do we get any credit for our medical school years?


      Joel Schofer, MD, MBA, CPE responded:
      March 10, 2018 at 07:01

      To my knowledge, no.


        Matt Southwick said:
        March 26, 2018 at 17:28

        Like many HPSP students I completed 180 days (1/2 YEAR) of activated, on orders, active duty time during my four years of medical school while in the inactive reserves. Many drilling reservists over the years have encouraged me to pursue tacking at least that portion on to my total active duty time [as if it was simply up to me]. I have heard that there are regulations to cite that can get these months on active duty tacked on. While 6 months may seem trivial 1.25% of base pay for life seems worth going to bat for (for example going from 23.5 years to 24).

        Any regulations supporting or refuting this point of view would be most welcome.



        Joel Schofer, MD, MBA, CPE responded:
        March 26, 2018 at 18:12

        I’m not sure that time we spent in the summers was truly active duty time. It seems it was at least reserve time, but the reserves are different. Reserve time generates points and you have to have enough points to have a “good year.” I’ve never seen anything that says you can reclaim that time, but maybe someone out there knows something I don’t know. I’ll ask the Corps Chief’s office as well and see if anyone knows anything.


    Dave said:
    March 10, 2018 at 07:21

    To clarify, the CWS HPSP credit gets front loaded, so you get to 20 with 16. Everyone gets the HPSP credited at 20, so you go from 20-24. If you’re active duty and stay on then I think it would affect your retirement bc your last 3 years of base pay would be higher bc you would be in the 24 yrs service column and base pay would be marginally more.
    Thanks for great blog!


      Joel Schofer, MD, MBA, CPE responded:
      March 10, 2018 at 07:23

      I agree that the CWS HPSP credit gets front loaded, but I don’t think Active Duty get credit for HPSP at the end. I could be wrong, though. If that is true, I’d need to see the policy.


        Dave said:
        March 10, 2018 at 07:46

        Thanks joel. I believe I have it. I’ll track it down and send to you.


    Rupa said:
    March 12, 2018 at 12:26

    Joel, thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions. I served for 13 “creditable years” and went to USUHS (for a total of 17 years time). I left as a CDR. I am thinking about rejoining the reserves, but wondered how many years will count as good years towards retirement. Is it 13? or 17? thank you so much – this is such a critical piece of information for me. Best, Rupa


      Joel Schofer, MD, MBA, CPE responded:
      March 12, 2018 at 20:11

      I think you’d start at 17 years but I’d STRONGLY encourage you to double check that with the recruiter(s) when you are making your decision. I’d also make sure you get it in writing!


        Rupa Dainer said:
        March 12, 2018 at 20:14

        Thank you joel! Also that email from
        The reserve BUMED liaison …do they reference any instruction at all? You are so kind!!! Thank you!!!


        Joel Schofer, MD, MBA, CPE responded:
        March 12, 2018 at 20:18

        All the instructions/references are in the original post. I even updated it to include the Army policy that another reader found and sent to me.
        Good luck!


        Rupa Dainer said:
        March 12, 2018 at 20:25

        I wonder if that only points to retirement PAY rather than years creditable towards retirement …yes?


        Joel Schofer, MD, MBA, CPE responded:
        March 12, 2018 at 20:29

        I think the policies are talking about creditable years, but, again, the devil is in the details and I’d work it out with the recruiters (in writing) if it was me.


        Rupa Dainer said:
        March 12, 2018 at 20:37

        Thank you!!


    Joe said:
    October 15, 2018 at 08:59

    Assuming an HPSP student completed internship and then a 4 year GMO tour and separated, would they be immediately credited “good years” for their HPSP time or do they have to enter SELRES for the remainder of their obligation on their contract in order to be credited?


      Joel Schofer, MD, MBA, CPE responded:
      October 15, 2018 at 18:57

      I suspect you’d have to enter SELRES, but don’t know for sure. If the policy doesn’t answer your question, you can e-mail the BUMED Reserve Affairs Officer and get an answer (CAPT Jerry L. Dotson).


      David R said:
      October 16, 2018 at 07:34

      You’d have to be SELRES as a CWS (Critical Wartime Specialty) to get the time credited up front. Otherwise non CWS SELRES get it added after their 20 (at 20 years they quantum leap to 24 years of srevice)


    Maria Alavanja said:
    November 6, 2018 at 11:42

    I am a USUHS graduate (2000-2004) who then served 14 years active duty. I am getting out next year because the threat of a a third deployment is too much for me and my kids. I am in a critical war time specialty. Previous posts on the site lead me to believe that if I join the reserves, they will consider this 19 years of service by time I get out (summer, next year). However, someone at the reserve recruiting office just told me because I was USUHS and NOT HPSP, this will be considered 15 years and will only get added on the “back end.” I really want to believe USUHS will count on the “front end” so I only have one year to do Reserve and can get some sort of retired status without deploying again. Is it your understanding of the rules that I can get retirement in 2020 after a year in the reserves? Any other USUHS grads tried this? Thank you so much for your website!


    James Cox said:
    April 24, 2020 at 10:13


    Thank you for your deligence in researching this. The issue really is that this Dod instruction was written for the purpose of recruiting HPSP physician’s back in SELRES status for support of the operation GWOT. The instruction clearly states a year of credit towards retirement for each year of HPSP credit. Our sister services automatically credit the appropriate time for participation. Why and who authorized the Navy to interpret the instruction differently than the Army and Air Force? Furthermore, a physician is not told up front they will not be credited for their final year of credit until they have actually contracted and returned to SELRES status. I’m not an attorney but I believe the manner in how the Navy is manipulating this to squeeze an extra year of service out of physicians is in violation of EEO federal policy. No individual physician could ever afford to challenge the Navy legally, but as a career Naval Officer, I can assure you that at a minimum, this is not of the moral character the US Navy holds each service member accountable for.


      Joel Schofer, MD, MBA, CPE responded:
      April 24, 2020 at 10:22

      This post is old, but I’m not sure what you are referring to when you say that the Navy is interpreting it differently. My wife did this and got 4 years of credit for all 4 years of HPSP time.


        Rupa Dainer said:
        April 24, 2020 at 10:24

        This needs to change to include USU students – it’s an insult and a travesty that it doesn’t


        James Cox said:
        May 22, 2020 at 16:55

        Joel, the instruction states year for you participation in the HPSP program. I does not state anything about calculating days of your fourth year in medical school. The Army and the Air Force take the instruction for face value and give credit to physicians based on the years of HPSP participation. It is only the Navy that does this on the final year, leaving out many physicians without credit for their fourth year of school. Who authorized the Navy to administer the program outside of the Dod instruction is my question and what explanation does the Navy have for doing so?


        Joel Schofer, MD, MBA, CPE responded:
        May 23, 2020 at 08:25

        I can’t answer your question as I have no personal experience with it and it is a Reserve policy. My wife didn’t get nickle/dimed for 4th year when she did this.


    Tim K. said:
    June 17, 2020 at 08:16

    on the HRC website posted May 14, 2020 under HPSP FAQs:

    Do my HPSP years automatically update once I join the Army Reserve?

    No, after completion of your first qualifying retirement year in the Army Reserve, the Soldier must notify HRC via . For every subsequent following qualifying reserve retirement year (up to four years maximum) each HPSP year will flip to a qualifying year. This is not an automatic update and is dependent upon the Soldier notifying HRC upon the completion of each good year.

    How do I earn credit for HPSP service?

    Upon completion of the ADSO (active Duty Service Obligation) and when a Soldier transfers to the Army Reserve, he or she will be credited 50 points for each year of HPSP for each qualifying reserve retirement year completed. This will occur on a first in first out basis and not exceed four years. For example, you performed HPSP 1990-1994. You complete your ADSO and transfer to the reserves in 2014. Your first qualifying year in the reserves for retirement is in 2015. The first year of HPSP (1990-1991) will be credited 50 points and flip to a qualifying retirement year. Assuming a total of 4 qualifying years for reserve retirement are completed, the respective HPSP years will flip in order, over the course of 4 years, not to exceed 4. Again as stated above, this is dependent upon the Soldier notifying HRC at when they complete a good retirement year.


    Jimmy B said:
    January 28, 2021 at 16:20

    So most of the discussion previously focused on HPSP. I was a FAP and the policy guidance includes FAP in addition to the HPSP. As a CWS, does this hold true that one would get “20 for 16” after fulfilling active duty obligation and then required reserve years? Thank you in advance as this is extremely helpful in career planning.


      Joel Schofer, MD, MBA, CPE responded:
      January 28, 2021 at 17:28

      It is really impossible to say, and I know that is probably a frustrating answer but it is honest. I know of multiple people who got this credit with HPSP. I also know of people who didn’t. I don’t know anyone either way regarding FAP. If you e-mail me at work ( I can link you with the Reserve Affairs Officer and she might be able to give you a better answer.


    Bradley Sherman said:
    March 9, 2021 at 23:45

    Joel, did HPSP in 2006-2010, completed active duty as a flight surgeon and then joined TMS in 2015-2020 for General Surgery, now repaying my reserve time currently. Should I have 4 years of HPSP time now that I started my reserve time in critical wartime specialty credited to me as “good years”? I don’t see it listed in ASOSH that I have credit if so. Who would you recommend I contact to get this rectified? Thank you!


    Terri Stewart said:
    March 19, 2021 at 22:59

    Hi, Thanks for all the info. Very helpful. I was HPSP (87-91). Was in a CWS ( OB/GYN) until I left active duty 14+ years. Joined the AFR in 12/2019 and looks like I have not gotten credit for the HPSP time. Per comments above, once I completed a full year reserve I would get one year of HPSP credit, yes? This did not happen. Do you happen to know who I would contact for the Air Force


    Huy Tran said:
    May 3, 2021 at 12:00

    Hi there! I just completed my first year of Reserves as a Flight Surgeon and reached out to Ms. Edwards to try to get credit for my HPSP time. She just informed me that the HPSP policy is under review and that according to new instruction HPSP credit can not be used toward retirement. She states that she does not know how long this review will take but that HPSP credit is currently not being awarded. Sir, have you (or anyone else) heard of this?


      Joel Schofer, MD, MBA, CPE responded:
      May 3, 2021 at 16:11

      This doesn’t surprise me as this policy has been on the verge of being rescinded or modified for years now.


      Keith Bell said:
      May 23, 2021 at 16:10

      Jeanitta Edwards just told me the same thing. I transferred to the SELRES with the promise that my 3 year SELRES contract would be matched by 3 years HPSP. They are now changing the rules AFTER agreements were made. Is there anybody else in our situation ? I really need help on this because I was going to retire next year. Who else is being affected by this ? Ideas would be greatly appreciated.


      M. Keith Bell said:
      May 23, 2021 at 16:19

      Huy Tran, send me a PM so we can find out how many of us are being refused points after signing up for the SELRES –


    David said:
    May 3, 2021 at 16:35

    That’s interesting and certainly their prerogative as it was always a SELRES recruiting carrot. With lot of CWS manning vacancies, it makes you wonder why now, ??

    I would be rather upset if they retroactively took my 4 years away, however. Was a great deal while it lasted.


      Keith bell said:
      May 23, 2021 at 16:15

      I agree that they are free to alter policy. However, it is probably illegal and is certainly unethical to unilaterally alter an agreement AFTER officers sign a contract.


    fnmasupporter1M said:
    June 1, 2021 at 08:33

    I received a letter concerning this very topic many years ago. I cannot find it. It is probably Stateside in a filing cabinet, as I currently live in Kenya working at a mission hospital. However, when I retired in 2012, the status was that since I had served 20+ years AD & RES beyond medical school, that the 3 years of the HPSP Term jumped me to 24+ years towards retirement. I start Retirement Pay late this year. I just had BUPERS verbally give me my ASOSH and it lacked those years of my HPSP towards retirement. They were to review this ASOSH and send to me my latest. I will be on the phone to Millington today bright and early.
    Does anyone have that letter?
    Thank you,
    CAPT M


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