Officials release high year tenure details

By Eric M. Grill: American Forces Press Service

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas — Air Force officials announced Dec. 19, high year of tenure limit changes for the grades of senior airman, staff sergeant and technical sergeant that go into effect in 2013.

The changes are a part of additional force management programs that are ongoing to continue to size and shape the force to current and future requirements.

Most airmen affected by the HYT changes will have two opportunities to test for the next higher grade before the change becomes effective.

High year of tenure limits for senior airman will be reduced from 10 years to eight years; staff sergeant 20 years to 15 years; and technical sergeant 22 years to 20 years.

The new HYT policy will impact slightly more than one-half of one percent of the enlisted force, or approximately 1,700 airmen.

“These HYT changes are necessary to help us meet our end-strength,” Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Roy said. “We are a highly competitive force, and this will make us an even more competitive one.”

This timeline provides airmen time to prepare for promotion testing.

“Airmen control their careers. We are announcing it now so airmen affected by the new HYT have ample time to study before their promotion tests,” Roy said.

The Air Force last changed HYT in 2010 when the service went back to the pre-2003 HYT levels due to end-strength stabilization

“It is the supervisor’s role to ensure airmen are informed and a career path is laid-out — but it is incumbent on every airman to strive to be the best and reach these milestones in a timely fashion,” said Air Force Personnel Center Command Chief Ruben Gonzalez Jr.

Senior airmen and staff sergeants who separate because of HYT will receive involuntary separation pay. Technical sergeants may apply for full retirement if leaving active duty because of reaching their HYT just as they would under existing policy.

“We are committed to helping these airmen and their families during their transition. Each will receive separation pay and many other benefits,” Roy said.

Airmen separating will also receive 180 days of extended medical care for themselves and their family, a second opportunity to enroll in the Post-9/11 GI Bill, NAF hiring preference, permissive TDY for employment and relocation activities, two years of commissary and Exchange privileges among other benefits.

An airman’s total active federal military service date, or TAFMSD, will determine whether he or she is grandfathered under previous HYT limits or impacted by the new HYT limits.

As examples:

• Senior airmen whose TAFMSD is Sept. 30, 2005, or earlier would separate under on their original HYT date, but no later than Sept. 29, 2013. If the senior airman’s TAFMSD is after Sept. 30, 2013, then the airman’s HYT date would be adjusted to the new eight-year limit.

• Staff sergeants with a TAFMSD of Sept. 30, 1997 or earlier will retire no later than the 1st day of the month following their original HYT. Staff Sergeants with a TAFMSD of Oct. 1, 1997 through Sept. 30, 1998 must separate on Sept. 29, 2013. Staff Sergeants with a TAFMSD of Oct. 1, 1998 or later will have their HYT adjusted to the new 15-year HYT level.

• Technical sergeants who exceed the new HYT will be allowed to remain on active duty to their original HYT or Sept. 1, 2013, whichever is earlier. For example, technical sergeants with a TAFMSD of Aug. 31, 1993 or earlier will retire no later than the 1st day of the month following their original HYT, but no later than Sept. 1, 2013. Technical sergeants with a TAFMSD of Sept. 1, 1993 or later will have their HYT established at the new 20-year HYT level.

Airmen can find their TAFMSD through the Air Force Personnel Services website at and receive additional counseling through their local Force Support Squadron or Military Personnel Section’s Career Development section.

Airmen assigned overseas who do not have enough time to move to the continental United States will have their date eligible to return from overseas, or DEROS, involuntarily extended to match their new HYT and date of separation. Those whose DEROS exceeds the new HYT and DOS will have their DEROS curtailed to match the new HYT.

Airmen are also encouraged to verify their active duty service commitment for the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill transfer of benefits to family members’ eligibility. Airmen who will have their HYT reduced and the reduction will not allow the airman to complete the ADSC associated with the Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer of educational benefits option should contact their local education office. They may also visit the Air Force’s Post-9/11 GI Bill web page at: for additional information.

Extensions of HYT due to unusual or extraordinary circumstances are still applicable under existing guidelines. These include reasons such as extreme personal hardship or when an extension is clearly in the best interest of the Air Force.

“Air Force leadership is committed to taking the necessary steps to ensure the resiliency of our airmen and families,” Gonzalez said. “Our bases and local communities have resources available to alleviate financial and emotional stress.”

Airmen can find more information about those programs through their unit first sergeant or at their local Airman and Family Readiness Centers, he said.

This change to policy will not affect Air Force Reserve or Air National Guard members.

For more information about high year of tenure limits or any other personnel related issue, visit the Air Force Personnel Services website at