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Allen M., Esq.
Allen M., Esq., Lawyer
Category: Military Law
Satisfied Customers: 19006
Experience:  Lawyer and current JAG officer.
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I am a Military Officer (Navy) and am looking at someday

Customer Question

Customer: I am a Military Officer (Navy) and am looking at someday becoming a citizen of New Zealand. If I do this will I forfeit my retirement pay I've earned after 30 years of active duty service?
JA: Thanks. Can you give me any more details about your issue?
Customer: I'm not sure how much more I can provide. I'm just trying to find out that if I get dual citizenship or renounce my US citizenship someday I won't lose my retirement pay.
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Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Military Law
Expert:  Allen M., Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for trusting your question to JA today. I’m happy to be of assistance.

To be eligible to continue to receive retirement, you have to maintain U.S. citizenship. This is because you have to continue to be eligible for military service or status, even in your retired years. While it is exceedingly rare, military retirees are still subject to activation for various reasons.

So, it is clear that losing your U.S. citizenship would negate your ability to receive retirement pay. Foreign residence is certainly legal and permitted; however, any action taken to relinquish your U.S. citizenship would be considered.

Directly from the DoD regulation concerning this matter, the two things that can be seen as giving up your U.S. Citizenship are:

A. Obtaining citizenship in a foreign state upon his or her application or upon an application filed on his or her behalf by a parent, guardian, or duly authorized agent

B. Taking an oath or making an affirmation or other formal declaration of allegiance to a foreign state or a political subdivision thereof.

Now, that being said, the regulation also recognizes the concept of dual citizenship, noting that a person acquiring foreign citizenship but does NOT relinquish U.S. citizen does not, alone, necessitate losing retirement pay. It's a case by case determination, looking at the actions of the individual, their intent concerning their U.S. citizenship, any military service obligations required for the foreign citizenship and the country involved. For example, joining ISIS or North Korea would probably invalidate the retirement. New Zealand is more neutral and if you maintained U.S. Citizenship, then the pay could continue.

Here is the full DoD regulation:

If you have any further questions, please let me know. I invite follow up questions, so use REPLY for those. If you have no further questions then good luck going forward and please do not forget to rate my service with a top-three rating so that I receive credit for working with you today. Also, feel free to request me in the future, if you have question concerning a different matter.

Expert:  Allen M., Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Hello, I wanted to check in and make sure that there was not any additional information that you required.

If you need further assistance, please use REPLY and ask me for any additional information you may need. If not, take care and have a great day.

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