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2007 RIF Qs & As

Q1: Will the Air Force recoup VSP if officers go into the Reserves or Guard after separating under the VSP program? When is the money recouped-during monthly decrements upon joining the Reserves or Guard or at some other time like upon retirement from the Reserves or Guard?

A1: VSP will be recouped from monthly retirement pay when officers attain retirement eligibility as a result of their Guard/Reserve service. VSP will not be recouped for officers who do not earn a Guard/Reserve retirement. If officers voluntarily return to active duty, VSP is recouped from active duty pay immediately upon entering active duty. If officers are involuntarily recalled to active duty, VSP is not recouped.

Q2: Will the RIF and/or SERB boards be instructed to provide special consideration to particular career fields, prior service personnel, gender, race, competitive categories, etc?

A2: The SECAF Memorandum of Instruction (MOI) for the SERB contains instructions to give consideration to officers in hard-to-fill assignments that require lengthy training such as Defense Attache or Security Assistance positions. The SERB does not consider prior service, gender, or race. The SERB does evaluate officers in their own competitive categories.

Q3: Officers with regular commissions were not vulnerable during the RIF that occurred in the early 90's. Since almost all officers now begin their careers with regular commissions, are there any special privileges for these officers if they meet the RIF board? Are there any special restrictions the Air Force must overcome in order for these officers to meet a RIF board?
A3: There will be no special provisions in the RIF for regular officers as all officers meeting the board are regular officers. There are no special restrictions for the Air Force to overcome in order for these officers to meet a RIF board.

Q4. Under what authority can the Air Force conduct an officer RIF?

A4: The FY07 NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) section 623 renewed subsection (a) of Title 10, U.S.C. section 638a for the period 1 Oct 06 through 31 Dec 12. This section authorizes the Service Secretary to discharge officers in the rank of Major and below with less than 18 years of service.

Q5. Why does the Air Force need to conduct a RIF?

A5: There are several reasons for this RIF. First, the Air Force is required to meet the mandated strength level of Program Budget Directive (PBD) 720. Second, the Air Force has been carrying excess officers for the past several years creating problems with the development of all officers, imbalances in skills and experience, and at the expense of the enlisted force. While voluntary force shaping measures have helped to address some of these concerns, we have reached the point where involuntary separation measures must be considered.

Q6. When will the RIF board be conducted?

A6: A central selection board will convene 11 - 29 Jun 06 at the Air Force Personnel Center (AFPC).

Q7. When is the mandatory separation date for officers selected for separation?

A7: 29 Jan 08.

Q8. Will all Majors and below be considered for the RIF?

A8: No. The RIF board will consider officers in overage career fields in the Total Federal Commissioned Service Date (TFCSD) year groups 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001. Primarily, the eligible officers will have between 6 and 12 years active duty time.

Q9. Why isn't the RIF board considering the TFCSD 1999 year group?

A9: The 1999 year group will be in-the-promotion-zone (IPZ) during this timeframe and historically, the Air Force has not considered officers for competitive promotion and involuntary separation during the same year.

Q10. Can officers still apply for Voluntary Separation Pay (VSP) instead of facing the RIF board?

A10: Yes. We have extended the deadline to 31 Mar 07 for eligible officers to apply for VSP.

Q11. How do we know if our specific career field and year group will be eligible for the RIF?

A11: A RIF vulnerability chart will be posted on the AFPC Force Shaping Website showing each career field, the number of overages (RIF eligibles), and the percent of each year group/AFSC that is vulnerable.

Q12. If enough officers apply for VSP in my career field and year group, will we exempt from the RIF board?

A12: Yes. As voluntary separations are approved for officers in a particular career field and year group, the number of RIF overages will decrease. When the column showing the number of RIF overages reaches "zero" the year group for that career field is balanced and will no longer be eligible for the RIF board.

Q13. I am stationed overseas. Am I still eligible for the RIF board?

A13: Yes. All officers in the year groups specified above and with overages in their AFSC's year group are eligible for the RIF board, regardless of assignment location.

Q14. I am stationed overseas. If selected for separation by the RIF board, and my DEROS is earlier than the 29 Jan 08 separation date, what happens?
A14: Your DEROS will be extended to match the 29 Jan 08 separation date. Likewise, if your DEROS is after the mandatory separation date, your DEROS will be curtailed to match the 29 Jan 08 separation date.

Q15. I am deployed or on a 365-day deployment? Am I still eligible for the RIF Board?

A15: Yes. If selected for separation by the RIF board, you will be returned to your home station after completion of the deployment and a DOS will be set for 29 Jan 08 or a maximum of 90 days after return from deployment.

Q16. If I am selected for separation, how much separation pay will I receive?
A16: Officers selected for separation by the RIF board will receive the involuntary separation pay (ISP) rate. The amount is half the current VSP offering. This equates to 10% of twelve times the amount of monthly basic pay to which an officer is entitled at the time of separation from active duty, times the years and full months of active military service computed from the TAFMSD. Each full month of active military service that is in addition to the number of full years of active military service will be counted as one-twelfth of a year. Disregard any remaining fractional part of a month. All ISP payments will be paid in a lump sum approximately three weeks following the date of separation. The calculation for ISP is shown below:

ISP LUMP SUM = 10% X FINAL MONTHLY BASE PAY X 12 MONTHS X YOS + Y/12 (WHERE Y = FULL MONTHS).

Q17. Will I have to pay taxes on the separation pay?

A17: Yes. Separation payments are subject to current applicable federal income tax rates at the time of payment and will be deducted before payment to you. For information on current tax rates and additional financial inquiries, please contact your local finance office or seek out a trusted tax advisor.

Q18. Can I put the separation payment into my Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)?

A18: No. ISP is not eligible for contribution to the TSP.

Q19. What other transition benefits are provided for officers selected for separation by the RIF board?

A19: In addition to the standard pre-separation counseling and job-assistance benefits, officers will also receive 180 days of medical care for themselves and family members, 20 days permissive TDY for employment and relocation activities (30 days for officers assigned overseas), a 2nd opportunity to enroll in the Montgomery GI Bill, NAF hiring preference for member or spouse, and permissive TDY to attend the Department of Labor TAP workshop if not offered locally.

Q20. Who will write my RRF?

A20: Your RRF will be written by your senior rater and endorsed by your senior rater's rater. Officers in a PCS student status will receive a narrative only RRF written by their host wing commander or school commandant.

Q21. When will I receive my RRF?

A21: All eligible officers will receive a Retention Recommendation Form (RRF) from their respective senior raters 60 days prior to the board. Eligible officers will also be furnished with an Officer Pre-selection Brief (OPB) for personal review approximately 120 days before the board. Officers are responsible for reviewing their records for accuracy and ensuring information contained within them are up to date.

Q22. When will my senior rater be determined? What if I PCS around that time period?

A22: The RRF accounting date will be 8 Feb 07. If an eligible officer departs PCS prior to the accounting date, the date the gaining finance office establishes as the officer's DAS will determine which senior rater is responsible for completing the RRF. If the DAS is on or before 8 Feb 07, the gaining senior rater is responsible for completing the RRF. If the DAS is after that date, the losing senior rater will complete the RRF.

Q23. What is the guidance to senior raters on writing the RRF?

A23: An MPFM will be released shortly before the RRF accounting date containing detailed guidance. Rules concerning prohibited RRF comments will mirror those for OPRs as outlined in AFI 36-2606, Officer and Enlisted Evaluation Systems, paragraph 3.7. The senior rater's understanding of all responsibilities IAW AFI 36-2406, Chapters 3 and 8 is critical, regarding what information a rater may/may not use when preparing a RRF, and the restriction against use of "boards or panels of officers to score records and/or generate a priority list of eligible officers." There will not be a mandatory stratification statement on the RRF for this board.

Q24. I am the first evaluator for 4 majors and will be writing their RRFs; can I stratify those officers in the 9 lines of the RRF that I am writing?

A24: Yes, as long as the stratification is within your scope. AFI 36-2406, Officer and Enlisted Evaluation Systems, states in para 3.7. "That except as authorized in the following paragraphs, do not consider, refer to, or include comments regarding: para 3.7.20 "Broad statements outside the scope of the evaluator's responsibility or knowledge. A broad statement is one which implies knowledge of Air Force members not assigned within the evaluator's realm of knowledge. For example, a group commander may not state the ratee is "the best civil engineer in the business" because he or she does not have knowledge of all civil engineers. Similarly, phrases such as "top 5% officer" or "clearly a top 1% major" are inappropriate because the evaluator does not have first-hand knowledge of all Air Force officers or majors. Broad statements such as these clearly lack credibility. EXCEPTION: It would be permissible for an evaluator to make such a statement if substantiated by an award, such as "Best comptroller in the Air Force--received the 1998 Air Force Financial Manager of the Year Award." Other examples of acceptable statements are "number one of my seven captains" and "top 1% of all majors I've ever supervised."

Q25. Will I be allowed to submit a letter to the board?

A25: Yes, officers may correspond by letter with their board and address any matter of record concerning themselves that they believe important to their consideration. Letters must be submitted in good faith and contain accurate information to the best of the officer's knowledge and must be signed by the officer (electronic signatures will not suffice). For identification purposes, please include your social security number.

Q26. Who will compose the RIF board?

A26: The RIF board membership has not yet been assigned, but typically, it would be chaired by a general officer with colonels evaluating the records in panels composed of officers whose experience mirrors that of the records they are evaluating.

Q27. What will the RIF board consider in evaluating the officers for separation?

A27: The RIF board will consider your officer selection record which consists of your Officer Performance Reports, Training Reports, Decoration Citations, an Officer Selection Brief (OSB) listing your service dates, duty assignment and other demographic items and a letter to the board if you wrote one. Further, each Senior Rater will complete a Retention Recommendation Form (RRF). In addition to comments on your performance and retention potential, the RRF will also contain a specific "retain" or "separate" recommendation. The RRF will not contain any type of "stratification" by the Senior Rater, i.e., a ranking of each officer against peers (in some cases as discussed above your evaluator may place a stratification statement in the "comments" section of the RRF). You will receive your RRF approximately 60 days before the start of the RIF board.

Q28. Will my senior rater have a quota for 'Retain' recommendations, similar to 'Definitely Promote' on PRFs?

A28: No. Senior Raters will not have quotas with regard to how many 'Retain' or 'Separate/Retire' recommendations they can give.

Q29. Can I change my career field to one that is not an overage and thereby not be eligible for the RIF?

A29: The possibility for re-training or "re-coring" your career field exists, but the opportunities are extremely limited. Many officer career fields in the 6 to 12 year range are in an overage condition at this time, thus necessitating VSP and the RIF. The career fields that are experiencing shortages for the most part require extensive educational backgrounds or are in the rated community. Even if you are selected for retraining, depending on when you actually enter the initial skills training for the new career field, you may still be eligible for the RIF in your current core AFSC.

Q30. Will the Air Force conduct RIF boards every year?

A30: At this time we don't know. Our goal has been to reduce the strength of the Air Force through voluntary measures when possible. If continued voluntary measures do not succeed, we may have to again apply involuntary separations.

Q31. What happens if I am selected for separation by the RIF board but am not medically cleared for separation?

A31: The mandatory DOS of 29 Jan 08 will be extended incrementally by 30 days until the medical officials determine you are medically cleared for separation or subject to a Medical Evaluation Board.

Q32. Are there any exemptions to RIF separations, such as for a critical position?

A32: No.

Q33. What if I have a personal hardship that will be further impacted by my separation on 29 Jan 08?

A33: After the SECAF approves the results of the RIF board (approximately Jul-Aug 07) AFPC will publish a Military Personnel Flight Manual (MPFM) that will contain instructions on how to apply for a delay of the separation date for reasons of personal hardship.

Q34. What if I am attending Developmental Education (DE), Intermediate Development Education (IDE), AFIT, or similar advanced education courses?

A34: You will still be considered by the RIF board. Officers in a PCS student status will receive a narrative only RRF written by their host wing commander or school commandant.

Q35. If I am selected for involuntary separation by the RIF board, will I have to pay back any unearned portions of bonus payments or special pays?

A35: No. All active duty service commitments and recoupment actions will be waived.

Q36. Will I have to repay money as a result of receiving tuition assistance (TA)?

A36: No, officers involuntarily separated by the Force Shaping Board will not be required to repay their education costs.

Q37. Am I eligible for the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB)?

A37: If you are not selected for retention and therefore involuntarily separated you would be eligible for the MGIB. You would be given a one-time chance to buy into the program with an enrollment cost of $1,200.00.

Q38. Will I get any veteran's preference if I apply for civil service employment?

A38: Yes. Five-point preference is given to those honorably separated veterans (honorable or general discharge) who served on active duty in the Armed Forces in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign medal has been authorized. Any Armed Forces Expeditionary medal is qualifying criteria for veteran's preference.

Q39. Will I be able to retain my security clearance if not selected for retention?

A39: Yes. Your security clearance remains in effect until its expiration date or until there is a 24-month break in service. A 24-month break in service invalidates an individual's personal security clearance eligibility. A break in service would be any break in active employment with a federal agency or DOD contractor.

Q40. When will I lose medical/dental benefits?

A40: Those selected by the RIF board will receive medical care for 180 days following the member's separation.

Q41. I live on base with my family - when will I be asked to leave base housing?

A41: For all types of separations or retirements, you will be expected to vacate family housing no later than your separation or retirement date.

Q42. Where am I authorized to have my household goods sent if I'm separated?

A42: All officers involuntarily separated from Active Duty are authorized travel allowances, non-temporary storage, and household goods transportation for up to one year after separation to a home of record (HOR) or Place Entered Active Duty (PLEAD). Any officer involuntarily separated can choose to have goods moved to Home of Selection (HOS); however, if more costly than HOR or PLEAD the member will bear the additional expense. If an officer has at least 8 years of continuous active duty service with no single break of more than 90 days, they will be eligible for travel allowances and household good transportation to Home of Selection (HOS) at the expense of the government. For authorized location authorized reference the Joint Federal Travel Regulation (JFTR).

Q43. Are there any programs/networks set up to help transitioning military find civilian employment?

A43: Transition services available at your base Airmen & Family Readiness Center is designed to deliver the information and skills needed to make a successful transition to the civilian sector. As part of the mandatory pre-separation counseling, members (and spouses if interested) will receive information and referrals on a variety of national and local resources/networks to facilitate the move to the civilian employment sector.

Q44. Do transition services offer employment placement services?

A44: No. The focus of the program is preparation, not placement. However, participants receive information on a wide array of employment opportunities and resources, as well as training designed to make them competitive in their job search.

Q45. If I'm selected to involuntarily separate, will I get permissive TDY time for job hunting?

A45: You will be eligible for up to 20 days (CONUS) or 30 days (overseas) PTDY as part of your transition benefits.

Q46. If I receive Involuntary Separation Pay, can I still accept an appointment in the Guard or Reserves?

A46: Yes. However, if you eventually qualify for retirement pay based on your Guard or Reserve service, the ISP would be recouped from your retirement pay.

Q47. If selected by the RIF board for separation, will I be required to serve in the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR)?

A47: You will be required to serve the remaining portion of any remaining Military Service Obligation (MSO) in the IRR. Additionally, any officer who accepts involuntary separation pay incurs a 3-year commitment in the IRR to be served concurrently with any existing MSO.