Buy Back Military Service for Civil Service Retirement Credits with a Military Service Credit Deposit

Some links below are from our sponsors. Here’s how we make money.

Advertiser Disclosure: Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone. This article may contain links from our advertisers. For more information, please see our Advertising Policy.

Military Service Credit Deposit
Military veterans who join the Civil Service and are eligible for the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) are eligible to buy back their military time a Military Service Credit Deposit. This gives them credit toward a FERS retirement, faster leave accrual, and other benefits.
Table of Contents
  1. Meet Our Expert, Eddie Wills of GubMints.com
  2. What You Will Learn in Today’s Podcast:
  3. How the Federal Employee Retirement Systems (FERS) Works
  4. Buying Back Military Time with a Military Service Credit Deposit
  5. Federal Service Computation Dates
    1. Service Computation Date – Civilian
    2. Service Computation Date – Leave
    3. Service Computation Date – Reduction in Force
  6. You Must Buy Back Your Military Time to Change Your SCD RIF Date
    1. How Much it Costs to Buy Military Service Credits
    2. What if you don’t have good records?
    3. Request a copy of your military records.
    4. Actually Buying Back Your Time.
  7. Who Can Buy Back Their Military Time?
  8. Benefits of Buying Back Your Military Time
  9. Who Should Buy Back Their Military Time?

According to federal data, over 30% of federal and civil service employees are military veterans. Continuing one’s career as a civilian government employee is a great way to continue serving our country.

There are also some excellent benefits for veterans who wish to work for the federal government. Among them are Veteran’s Preference Points, which can help you land a job with the government. And, if you are willing to buy back your military time through a Military Service Credit Deposit, you can enjoy other benefits, such as increased leave accrual per pay period, faster vesting of your Thrift Savings Plan agency contributions, and you may even be able to retire earlier than you otherwise might have without credit for your military service.

In today’s podcast, we will discuss buying back your military time, how to do it, and the benefits of doing so.

Meet Our Expert, Eddie Wills of GubMints.com

In this podcast, I interview Eddie Wills, a military veteran who writes about Personal Finance and Benefits for Federal Employees and Veterans at this site, GubMints.com, where he helps federal employees and military veterans navigate the tricky paths of federal benefits, including buying back military time, computing your service dates, applying for retirement, understanding your Thrift Savings Plan benefits, the Federal health insurance system, and much more.

Today he is joining us to discuss Military Service Credits, or “Buying Back” Military service time in order to increase your federal pension. This is an important topic for all veterans currently serving in the Federal Service, or those who are considering going into the Federal sector after they leave the military.

What You Will Learn in Today’s Podcast:

  • How the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) works
  • How Eddie Retired with 9 Years of Federal Service and will earn a pension at age 60.
  • How Eddie will Receive two Federally insured pensions Starting at Age 60 – one from the Navy Reserves, and one from the FERS retirement system.
  • The value of an inflation adjusted pension (hint: it’s worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not more!).
  • How buying back your military time can:
    • Increase the amount of vacation time you accrue each pay period
    • Help you if there is a Reduction in Force (RIF) by allowing you to choose early retirement, or possibly be passed over for a RIF because of your seniority
    • Get your Thrift Savings Plan agency contributions vested more quickly
  • Why everyone who is eligible to buy back their military time should do so (other than current military retirees)
  • And more!

How the Federal Employee Retirement Systems (FERS) Works

We’ll give you a brief overview of the FERS retirement system so you have an understanding of it before we jump into the rest of the article. The FERS retirement plan is like a three legged stool—it has three distinct elements:

  • The Federal Pension Plan (eligibility). The pension is determined by multiplying your years of Federal Service by the average of your top three years of pay (example, 20 years of service with an average of $100,000 for your top 3 years of earnings equals an annual pension of $20,000). Some retirees are eligible for early retirement and can earn their pension before age 60. This is usually offered to eligible employees during a Reduction in Force (RIF).
  • Thrift Savings Plan. Federal Employees receive an agency matching contribution to their TSP, up to a maximum of 5% of their pay.
  • Social Security Benefits. (Note: certain military members are eligible for increased Social Security Benefits, depending on the dates which they served).

This system is designed to give retirees 3 sources of income, which they can use to fund their retirement. And, as Eddie tells us in the interview, federal service employees are also eligible to earn a separate retirement from the Guard or Reserves without it affecting their FERS retirement benefits (this is not the case for active duty retirees).

Buying Back Military Time with a Military Service Credit Deposit

The FERS retirement system will reward those who have worked in the federal service, including military veterans. But in order for your military time to count toward a FERS retirement, you need to give the civil service the information they need to account for your time served. And if you want your military time to count toward a FERS pension, then you need to make a Military Service Credit Deposit to buy into the pension (this is required since you wouldn’t have paid into the pension plan during those years served).

We’ll cover details for making a Military Service Credit Deposit a little later in this article. For now, let’s look at Federal Service Computation Dates, which are important for calculating seniority, leave accumulation, and other factors.

Federal Service Computation Dates

The GubMints Gouge for Maximizing your Service Computation Date
Eddie’s Book on Maximizing Your Service Computation Date

Federal Service Computation Dates are used to determine several aspects of your federal service benefits. There are three primary Service Computation Dates (SCD) we will look at, including:

  • SCD Civilian – the date you enter civilian federal service
  • SCD Leave – the date used for computing your leave accrual rate
  • SCR Reduction in Force (RIF) – used for seniority

These dates are all very important, so let’s jump in and see how they affect your service.

Service Computation Date – Civilian

Your SCD Civilian date you start your civil service job. This is almost always on a Monday at the start of a pay period.

This starts the date for your FERS life insurance benefit (not FEGLI; the FERS life insurance is a free benefit). This is important because there is a change for life insurance benefits at the 10 year mark.

The Thrift Savings Plan Computation Date is important because at the 3 year mark you are completely vested in the agency contributions made by the government into your Thrift Savings Plan Account.

Service Computation Date – Leave

The SCD Leave date is used to determine how quickly you accrue leave. This is the date listed in the upper right corner of your civilian Leave and Earnings Statement, or LES. If you don’t have any military experience, this would be the same as your SCD Civilian Date.

How to get credit: If you are a non-retired military veteran*, you only need to turn in DD214 to your HR office to gain additional seniority as a federal employee. This is a one to one benefit. This is valuable, because you accrue leave more quickly once you have over 3 years of federal service.

For example, until you reach 3-years of civilian service, you accrue 4 hours of annual leave per two week pay period, but you accrue annual leave at 6 hours per pay period between 3 and 15 years of civilian service. Over 15 years of civilian service, you accrue one day off work (8 hours) of annual leave, per pay period.

This is an extremely valuable benefit, not just for the time off that you will accrue, but because you can later sell your leave days when you leave federal service. This time off is on top of your sick leave and your days off work for federal holidays.

Federal employees can carry up to 240 hours of leave across a calendar year, so this gives those leaving federal service the opportunity to sell up to 30 days of leave when they leave the service, which is the equivalent of an extra month’s pay. Here is more information about annual leave for civil service employees.

*Military retirees can also apply to have some of their service count toward their SCD Leave date, but only the days which they served in a named campaign or in certain deployments. Eddie lists more details on his site: Military Service Credit Deposit – Retired From Active Duty.

Service Computation Date – Reduction in Force

Your SCD RIF date determines your seniority if there is a Reduction in Force. To get this, you have to buy back your time with a Military Service Credit Deposit (more on this below).

The time you buy back can allow some members to retire at age 50 if they have 20 years of federal service and the government offers them a Voluntary Early Retirement.

This is a full retirement and retirees can receive the Federal Employee Health Benefit at the regular employee charge. Being able to take an early retirement and receive the retiree health care benefits is a huge advantage for many federal employees. Eddie is clear to note that early retirees under a RIF do not have to pay the COBRA health care costs, but will pay the same amount as federal employees, making early retirement a nice option for many service members.

If you buy back your time, your SCD RIF date will match your SCD Leave date.

You Must Buy Back Your Military Time to Change Your SCD RIF Date

This is where you have to decide to buy back your military service time to count toward your federal service. If you decide to buy back your military service time, you will have to write the government a check for 3%* of the base military pay you earned while you were in the military, or have the amount withheld from your future paychecks. (*except for the period of 1999-2000, which has a slightly higher buy back rate).

How Much it Costs to Buy Military Service Credits

Dates of ServiceAmount of Deposit Due
Through 12/31/983% of military basic pay
1/1/99 through 12/31/993.25% ofmilitary basic pay
1/1/00 through 12/31/003.4% of military basic pay
1/1/01 to the present3% of military basic pay
How much it costs to buy back your military service. (Source).

Receiving credit for this time requires math, filling out some forms, and some homework on your part. But it is worth every bit of time and effort you put into it.

You will need to give your civil service HR department copies of your DD214 and any related pay stubs you might have. The buy back is based on your previous military earnings, so having copies of your LES’s will make it easier for the HR department to determine when you received pay raises from promotions and time in service raises.

What if you don’t have good records?

The HR department can figure out your effective pay based on your DD 214 and historic pay tables. However, Eddie mentioned it is much easier to do the computations yourself to not only make their job easier, but so you can ensure accuracy. No one has a greater interest than you in making sure the calculations are done correctly. So do your homework on your end to ensure accuracy to make sure you don’t have to 1) pay more to buy back your military time, and 2) you get credit for all your military time.

Request a copy of your military records.

You can also request a copy of your military service records from either your branch of service’s records bureau, or from the National Archives if they have already been sent there.

Actually Buying Back Your Time.

Once the calculations are complete, you can buy back your time by writing the government a check, or through payroll deductions over the next couple of years. You must buy your military service credits within two years of beginning your federal service or the balance will accrue interest. The interest rates vary based on the year(s) of your military service and are determined by the Department of the Treasury every year. You can find the interest rates on the OPM website.

Note: Visit the GubMints Comprehensive Military Service Credit Deposit Guide to learn how to compute your Military Service Credit Deposit and determine if you should buy your time back. Or you can buy Eddie’s book on Amazon, for less than a cup of coffee.

Who Can Buy Back Their Military Time?

All non-retired military veterans can buy back their military service time through a Military Service Credit Deposit. You should consider buying back your military time even if you don’t think you will work for the federal government for a long time.

You only need 5 years of federal service to qualify for a deferred annuity, which is a pension you can begin drawing at age 62. Even a small pension will be valuable in your retirement years.

Graduates from the Service Academies can also buy back their academy time, which is an amazing benefit because Service Academy Cadets only earned a small stipend during their Academy days. This makes the cost to buy that time inconsequential compared to the return they would receive in federal service time and annuity value.

Note:

Members of the Guard and Reserves are able to buy back their active duty time and work toward dual pensions. This is what Eddie is doing. He applied his active duty time toward his FERS retirement, and he will receive his FERS pension when he reaches age 60. He is also working toward his retirement from the Navy Reserves, which he would also receive at age 60 (unless he is eligible for early Reserve retirement pay).

Federal law prohibits retired active duty military members from buying back their military time and adding it to their FERS pension (this is because they are already receiving compensation for their military retirement). As noted earlier, military retirees should still look into getting credit for their Service Computation Date for Leave.

Benefits of Buying Back Your Military Time

When you buy back your military service dates, you receive a day for day accrual of your time as an active duty service member. Every single day counts towards your federal service FERS annuity pension plan. So the longer you served, the more valuable buying back your time will be.

As mentioned earlier, the FERS pension is based on your years of service and the average of your highest three years of pay. Eddie gives an example of someone earning an average of $100,000 a year for their final three years of service with 20 years of creditable service. This would equate to a $20,000 a year pension (25 years of service at $100,000 average of high pay would be $25,000 in pension benefits). Like military retirement pay, the FERS pension plan is adjusted annually for COLA, so it increases in most years. (Full Computation Explanation).

Note: There is a time limit to make your Military Service Credit Deposit:

You have a two-year short window to buy back your military time, or you would otherwise have to pay interest on the balance. Here are the interest rates.

Who Should Buy Back Their Military Time?

The GubMints Gouge for Maximizing your Service Computation Date
Eddie’s Book on Maximizing Your Service Computation Date

Almost everyone who is eligible. There are only a few edge cases where it doesn’t make sense to buy back your time, but those instances are rare. In all cases, you should run the numbers to be sure. Eddie will show you how on his guide.

Better yet, buy his book on Amazon, The GubMints Gouge for Maximizing your Service Computation Date. The book is much more detailed than the article on his site, and only costs $0.99. It can help you earn hundreds or thousands of dollars in return.

Additional Resources:

The FERS retirement system can be complicated. So please keep in mind this podcast and article can only provide a top-level overview of the Military Service Credit Deposit and related FERS rules and benefits. I recommend reading the following articles for more information, and speaking with your HR representative if you are already currently employed with the federal government.

Get Instant Access
FREE Weekly Updates! Enter your information to join our mailing list.

About Ryan Guina

Ryan Guina is the founder and editor of The Military Wallet. He is a writer, small business owner, and entrepreneur. He served over 6 years on active duty in the USAF and is a current member of the IL Air National Guard.

Ryan started The Military Wallet in 2007 after separating from active duty military service and has been writing about financial, small business, and military benefits topics since then. He also writes about personal finance and investing at Cash Money Life.

Ryan uses Personal Capital to track and manage his finances. Personal Capital is a free software program that allows him to track his net worth, balance his investment portfolio, track his income and expenses, and much more. You can open a free Personal Capital account here.

Featured In: Ryan's writing has been featured in the following publications: Forbes, Military.com, US News & World Report, Yahoo Finance, Reserve & National Guard Magazine (print and online editions), Military Influencer Magazine, Cash Money Life, The Military Guide, USAA, Go Banking Rates, and many other publications.

Reader Interactions

Comments

    Leave A Comment:

    Comments:

    About the comments on this site:

    These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Robert,

      This article has the basics about Military Service Credits. For specific information, I recommend contacting your Human Resources Office. We do not have access to any personnel records and will not be able to provide any specific advice or information for individuals.

      I wish you the best, and thank you for your service.

  1. Chris C. says

    This is a very informative article. I was medically retired in 1991 after 6 years of service with a greater than 30% disability. I was also honorably discharged. Am I eligible to participate in the buy back program with those 6 years of service?

    Thanks in advance!

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Chris,

      This is a great question. Federal law prohibits those with an active duty retirement from being able to buy back Military Service Credits for their active duty time and “double-dipping” with their FERS time. However, I’m not sure how it applies to those who earned a disability retirement under Chapter 61. This would be a great question for your Human Resources office.

      Best wishes!

  2. James Hutchinson says

    I have a question about “double-dipping”. I’m a GS employee and a Reservist with about 15 years of total active duty service time. If I buy back my 15 years of military time as a GS employee and THEN go back on active duty for 5 more years to qualify for an active duty retirement, will I be permitted to collect an active duty military retirement AND keep the 15 years that I bought back as a GS employee?

    I know that “double-dipping” is permitted for a Reserve retirement, but is it also permitted for an Active Duty retirement in the situation that I described above? Thank you in advance.

    • Ryan Guina says

      James,

      My understanding is that you cannot double-dip in regard to having both a FERS and active duty military retirement, even in the situation you described above. You can clarify this with your HR department.

      That said, that doesn’t mean you can’t work this to your advantage. For example, you could go back on active duty (or active orders while remaining in the Reserves) and earn a substantial number of points that you can then apply toward your Reserve retirement as well as your FERS retirement (you would have to buy those points back as well).

      Doing so will net you a significantly larger retirement for both your military and FERS retirement plans.

      The disadvantage is that you wouldn’t be able to retire with an active duty retirement after 20 years of service and gain an immediate pension + health care benefits. But it can work if you don’t mind waiting for the Reserve retirement benefits to kick in at age 60.

      You will need to play around with the numbers to see which option is the best for your situation.

      In some cases, going back on active duty and earning immediate retirement benefits is by far the better option. However, if you are reasonably close to age 60, and/or you don’t mind working longer, then taking active duty orders to boost your points can work out very well in the long run, even if you have to wait until age 60 to receive retirement benefits.

      My recommendation is to clarify the rules and laws with your HR department and run the numbers and think about your career and retirement plans.

      I hope this points you in the right direction!

  3. Jason says

    Great article! I was in the reserves for 8 years (with active duty time from activation). I bought back my time when I because a GS employee. I am thinking of going back in the reserves. How will my by-back affect my reserve retirement points? Will my previous 8 years in the reserves still count towards reserve retirement? Thank you!

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Jason,

      Yes, your military time (both active and Reserve time) will still count toward a Reserve retirement, even after you bought military service credits with the government. There is no impact to your Reserve retirement points.

      Best wishes!

  4. Patricia Steiner says

    question: I have been working for the VA since 2016. I sold my active duty time back – 4 years from 1988-1992 DD214 verified when I first started working for the VA. I have recently found out I could sell back my active duty time while in then Reserves: AT and ADT in the Navy Reserves. I have been serving in the Navy Reserves since 1993. I got my estimated earnings during Military Service from DFAS for the 46 time periods of active service. However, I keep being told I can not submit for my buyback amount without a DD214. AT and ADT time in the Navy Reserves DOES NOT HAVE A DD214. What can I submit instead of a DD 214. Does Active Duty time during the Reserves count?

  5. Allan Hager says

    Nice Article,

    I am part way through the process to buy back my military time. My question is, does the amount due keep gaining interest once I start buying it back?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Allan,

      If you buy the service credits back within the initial two-year time period, there is no interest charged. If you don’t buy it back within that window, the outstanding portion will accrue interest, not the initial amount. Check with your HR department for more information.

      Best wishes.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Oliver, this article only pertains to buying back military service credits through the FERS system. It is not possible to simply “buy back” military service credits toward a pension or retirement plan on your own. It has to be done through another organization that has a participating program.

      For example, there are some state and local organizations that allow individuals to buy back military service credits that can be applied to their pension systems. This is common for many first responder organizations, some state and local employee organizations, and in some cases, teaching unions. That said, each situation is unique to each organization. You would need to work with a prospective employer to learn more.

      Best wishes.

  6. Kathy english says

    I am a 33 years retired veteran of the air force reserves. I have been working for the government now for 18 years. Years ago, I bought back a year and 4 months of time, thinking that was all that was allowed. Now I am being told that I could have included my annual tours, school tours, and special tours, all days that count as active duty on the AF form 526. I am conflicted as to start the process over again and try to recoup the Lost days and be thrown another curve ball, wasting my time. What do you know is considered active duty?

  7. John.Oldershaw says

    Hi Ryan, Great advice. Helped me easily buy back active duty time with the VA. Separately, I am applying for my Reserve Retirement pay. I had some questions about the Survivor Benefit Plan, as it applies to the Retired Reserve. Is there someone I would be able to speak with about the choices offered on DD form 2656 (Data for Payment of Retired Personnel)? Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello John, 

      I’m not an expert on the Reserve SBP. We have an in-depth article and podcast on the active duty SBP.

      You would then need to review how the SBP plan works and make some adjustments from there.

      I would contact your former Reserve unit to see if they have someone who can give you a briefing on the topic. You can also contact DFAS. That said, in most situations, they will only be able to provide basic information, not specific recommendations for your situation.

      I hope this points you in the right direction.

      I wish you the best, and thank you for your service.

  8. David Griffin says

    Hi Ryan,
    I have 18 years of active duty and was medically retired. Currently, I receive 100% disability from the VA which covers my Army retirement pay tax-free. I know that you probably already covered this type of situation, but I couldn’t pick up on it though the thread.

    My question is: May I sell back any of my time if I meet the 5-year requirement under FERS? I know you said that retirees are prohibited from selling back time, but I wasn’t allowed to get to 20 years due to being medically retired. My dates are (1995-2013). I know that I forfeit my DEFAS retirement pay and can’t draw on both but that wouldn’t affect VA, would it?

    Thank you so much in advance for your response. I am considering going back into federal service and this will help me determine if it’s worth doing so.

    Respectfully,
    David G

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello David,

      I’m not 100% certain how it works in this case – I’m not an expert on the FERS retirement system. My understanding is that if you buy back your military service credits, you will lose your military retirement. I know this applies to your military retirement pay, but I do not know if it also applies to military retiree healthcare benefits. I would confirm this with your HR representative. 

      As far as your VA disability compensation, this is separate from the military retirement and FERS retirement systems. To my knowledge, joining the FERS system shouldn’t impact your VA disability compensation.

      I would confirm those topics with an HR rep and then consider joining the civil service. Being able to buy back 18 years of service would have a huge impact on a future pension and allow you to continue drawing the full VA disability compensation as well as a future FERS pension and Social Security Benefits. That’s one heck of a retirement plan!

      Best wishes and let us know how things turn out!

      • David Griffin says

        Ryan,

        Thank you for your detailed and thoughtful response. I think I confused myself earlier in the podcast. I read those current military retirees were excluded from buying back their military time.

        It makes the most sense to me that a military retiree would need to forfeit their military retirement to participate in FERS.

        I think it’s an awesome opportunity for military members with credible service.

        Thank you once more for your time and shedding much-needed light on this topic.

        Respectfully,
        David Griffin

  9. Steve W says

    Hello. Thanks for all of the information. I have one question, though. I recently retired from the National Guard. I had 13 years of active duty, plus my guard time to get to 22 years. If I work at the VA, under FERS, for only 5 to 7 years, can I buy back the entire 13 years of active duty time for retirement, or is the buy back only less than or equal to the amount of federal service you put in? Thanks!

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Steve,

      You can buy back the entirety of your active duty service time. However, you need 5 years of FERS service in order to qualify for a FERS retirement. The military time you buy back will stack on top of your actual FERS service time and count toward your total retirement. 

      However, it’s best to buy back your time as soon as possible because it counts toward your leave accrual and other status dates. In addition, you can buy back your time within the first few years without paying any interest, but after a certain amount of time, you must pay interest on the military service credits you buy back.

      Best wishes!

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Gary, yes it is. If you buy your military service credits, you can count your active duty time toward your military Reserve retirement and a FERS retirement. Best wishes!

  10. Curtis Norman says

    I’m sure this answer has already been answered however, I have to asked for my situation. Retired 30 years Navy Reserve with 7923 points. I will draw Navy pension at age 58.5 in 2025. I have bought back 17.4 months of military time so can also retire from CIV Svc at MRA age 56.5 in 2023. I become GS in 2009 so buying back 17.4 years I will have over 31 years at MRA.

    Question: The “military time I bought back”….will I get full point credit when I retire/draw my pension from the Navy at age 58.5 or will I be cancelling out the reserve points.

    I understand and have always understood that I will get credit on both sides.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Curtis,

      As long as you retire from the Guard or Reserves, you don’t lose any of your military credits on either side when you buy your points. The only issue is with an active duty retirement and FERS – you can’t double dip in that situation.

      Best wishes, and enjoy your retirement!

  11. Gaey B says

    Hi Ryan,

    I completed 12 years of active duty from 1987 to 1999 (11 years Regular and 1 year Title 10). I then completed an additional 14 years of traditional ARNG duty (1 weekend a month/2 weeks per year) retiring from the ARNG in 2013 with a combined total of 26 years of honorable service. This past summer, at the age of 54, I started working for the Federal Government. I plan to work 8 years with them.

    I have heard/read differing views as to whether I am eligible to buy back my 12 years of Active duty time. A few people/articles said “yes “and I would get an additional 12 years added onto my Federal time. So if I retire at 62 I would get 20 years of credited Federal Service (12 years buy back and 8 year Federal Service) and would also get my 26 year ARNG retirement when I reached 60. Others have told me that if I buy back the 12 years I would lose my ARNG pension. Which is the case? I do not want to lose the ARNG retirement since it is a large one based on the number of points I accrued and would be more than the federal retirement with the 12 year buy back (based on my expected service of 8 years and salary).

    Can you help advise?

    Thanks.

    Gary B

  12. Nick says

    First, let me say that this is an excellent article / podcast and a great source of information. I am going to add this to my source library of information to pass on to folks when folks ask me how this process works. Please feel free to re-write this as you wish in case I’m mudding up the waters. A few notes that may be confusing for the Active Duty retiree’s considering the buyback option. For what it’s worth…

    At about the 37:00 minute mark you say that as a Military retiree it’s probably not worth selling your time back…that’s not necessarily true and a misnomer out there. It depends… in my case, I’m a retired E-7 with 20 years of service and I’m now a GS 15. It is well worth selling back my time because the 20% (1% per year X 20 years as a retiree) that I add to my FERS years for retirement is well worth more than the 50% of an E7 retirement that I receive from DFAS. Yes, I give up my military retirement (DFAS) when I retire as a Fed but it’s well worth it. And, until I retire, I keep drawing my DFAS check.

    There is a teeter-totter here on when to buy back and a simple drill to go thru to see if it’s worth exploring further. I ask folks to take into account the number of years they have as a retiree and keep that number in mind (for this purpose, let’s say 20 years for easy calculations). Now take your military retirement check annual amount before any deductions or allotments (DFAS). Note that number. Take 20% of your existing estimated average top 3 salary as a Fed and note that number. If the Fed amount is larger than your DFAS check amount… it may be worth buying back your time.

    An example may be better. Let’s say my DFAS annual check is $25,000 before any deductions and I currently make (average top 3) $150,000 as a Fed. So, 20% of $150,000 is $30,000 minus the DFAS $25,000 number, that’s a net gain of $5,000.00 per year if I sell my time back. I understand there are a lot of other factors to take into consideration such as the payback amount, etc., but at the end of the day, it’s worth selling. Now let’s reverse the scenario…lets say my military retirement check as $50,000 per year and my Fed top 3 is $150,000, then $30,000 (20% of Fed) – $50,000 (DFAS) is -$20,000. Definitely not worth selling back the time.

    There is also a mention in the article that can be confusing if you have not been involved with this process as an active duty member. The mention of: “Federal law prohibits retired active duty military members from buying back their military time and adding it to their FERS pension (this is because they are already receiving compensation for their military retirement).

    As noted earlier, military retirees should still look into getting credit for their Service Computation Date for Leave.” This makes it sound like retirees can benefit from selling back their time (at least it did to me and a few other folks I know). Yes retirees can sell back their time but at the time of actually retiring from the Fed, they have to choose which retirement system and it can’t be both; however, until you actually retire from the Fed, you can continue to receive your military retirement check.

    Also as far as the SCDs, the other mistakes I see made by HR offices is crediting retiree’s with the buyback time on their Leave SCD…this is not correct. Leave SCD credit is only for non-retiree’s. The SCD that should change is the date for retirement and that can only be found on the FERS Yearly Benefits Statement…it is not on the SF50 anywhere. The SCD on the SF50 (block 31) is the SCD for Leave.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Nick,

      Thank you for the additional information and the examples. This definitely clarifies and adds value for readers.

      Your situation as a retired E-7 and GS-15 is not common, but it can definitely happen, so it’s worth considering all scenarios to be certain which retirement system is best for the individual.

      Thank you for sharing!

  13. Gene says

    Hello! I entered federal service in 2013 and began buying back my 3 years of military time. I left federal service in 2015. I re-entered federal service in 2017, and immediately finished paying off my military service. My SF-50 list states maybe Service Computation Date as 2012, but my HR has my Retirement date as 2017 the day I started my current federal job. What’s correct?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Gene, I’m not an expert in the civil service HR system. I would take this question to your HR office for verification. I wish you the best, and thank you for your service.

  14. Patricia L. Baker says

    Hello. I was accepted into the US NAVY JAGC. I attended their Officer Indoctrination School (OIS) for ten weeks but did not make the cut. At the end of my 10 weeks I was shipped back home and returned to regular civilian life. Can I get credit for this to obtain a FERS check? OPM is saying I am two weeks short of creditable service to get a FERS check, but they did not include the ten weeks I attended OIS.
    I am going to be retiring at the age of 62; I would like to get a FERS check and a SSA check.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Patricia,

      By “obtain a FERS check,” do you mean “earn a FERS retirement pension”?

      If so, then you can earn a FERS pension without military service credits. You need to perform at least 5 years of creditable service within FERS to qualify for a Deferred annuity. However, if you want to earn an Immediate Retirement, you will need to meet those criteria.

      This article provides an overview of how to earn a full pension under FERS.

      FERS participants also contribute to Social Security, so you will also be eligible for Social Security benefits.

      As for buying back your military service credits, I don’t have that answer. I would need to direct you to your FERS HR department. It’s always best to ask for a copy of the regulation that applies to your situation so you can have a written reference. You can also contact another HR Office outside of your local office if you cannot find someone who has the answer to your questions.

      I wish you the best!

  15. Anderw F says

    Ryan,
    I’m an Army NG member with 4 years of active service from title 10 orders, I also just hit my 20 years total reserve service but plan on staying in at least another 5 years. I am currently also a Federal employee with 10 years of service. The question I have is: should I buy back my time asap or wait because there’s a good chance that I could get deployed again in the next five years. Without doing a lengthy cost vs benefit analysis, would the potential for gaining another 1 possibly 2 years of active service be worth paying more in interest accrual for the next 5 ish years ? and if that is too easy of a question here’s the double bonus round… my current 4 years of active service was as a lowly paid E4, if I get another deployment in, it would be as an O4 so the pay would be much higher. Meaning I would need to pay more for the Military deposit. Would the trade off even be worth it to gain 1 more active service year toward my FERS retirement, given that I would have to pay a higher Military deposit and more interest ? The ability to retire one more year earlier i guess would be my biggest reason for holding out on buying back my time so far, but i’m beginning to question if that’s really worth it on the financial end.

  16. Tony Salas says

    Ryan,

    I am 39, just retired with 20 years in the Army National Guard. I did achieve 20 but was medically retired at 30% from the Army and have Tricare for life now. I recently was hired on as a DoD Civilian. Their HR said I could not buyback any time because I retired? I have about 7 years of Active Duty Time and 13 years of N.G. Drill time. Can I buyback sometime? I am not collecting my retirement check yet. It will be around 1200 a month at age 59.
    2) Did I read correctly, that I buyback time. I can still collect the $1200 at 59. Then collect the Fers annuity as well?
    3) If I am correct in my understanding, can you send me a link so I can provide this to my HR.

    Thank you,

    Tony

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Tony,

      My understanding is that you can only apply your active duty military time toward either an active duty military retirement or FERS, but not both.

      However, you CAN apply active duty military time toward a Guard/Reserve retirement and a FERS retirement.

      It sounds like you are retired under a Reserve retirement, since you will not draw your retirement pay until age 59. If that is the case, then I believe you should be able to buy back your military service credits. Again, if that is the case, you should be able to draw both your military retirement pay and your FERS pension.

      However, I’m not sure how your medical retirement impacts this.

      This is a situation where you will want to sit down with an expert who can help you run the numbers (I have a broad understanding, but I am not an expert here).

      Best wishes!

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Tony,

      My understanding is that you cannot use your active duty time for both an active duty retirement and a FERS retirement. However, you can use your active duty time toward both a retirement from the Guard/Reserves and the FERS system. So it all depends on how your military retirement is classified. If you are considered to have the equivalent of an active duty retirement, then you won’t be able to apply your active duty time to both retirements. However, if you have a Reserve retirement, you should be able to buy back your time and have it count toward both retirement systems.

  17. MooseManDan says

    Thank you for the wealth of knowledge here. I’m medically retired AF, 15.9 yrs of AD Service, 50% VA disability. I’ve worked as an AF Civilian since 2011 – present. My question: can I draw my military retirement, VA disability (tax free portion of military pay), plus a FERS retirement at my retirement date of 2029, without buying back? Or, am I even eligible to draw a retirement from FERS? I contribute to FERS and TSP. I guess I’m just confused. Thanks for any insight.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello MooseManDan,

      Your question: “Can I draw my military retirement, VA disability (tax free portion of military pay), plus a FERS retirement at my retirement date of 2029, without buying back?”
      – Yes, you can continue receiving your VA disability and military retirement.
      – You will be able to receive your FERS retirement once you are eligible.
      – You do not need to buy back any military time. In fact, you would want to run the numbers before buying back military service credits. Your military time can only count toward either your active duty retirement or your FERS retirement – it cannot count toward both retirement plans.

      You also asked: “Or, am I even eligible to draw a retirement from FERS?”
      – In general, you need to serve 5 years or longer to be eligible for FERS retirement benefits.

      I hope this is helpful.

  18. Robert says

    I’m retired military and 30% of my retired pay is provided as VA disability – meaning I’m not getting extra pay, just a tax break on 30% of my retired pay. Question: If I buy back military time to combine with civilian federal service, would I continue to draw the VA disability that is currently deducted from military retired pay?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Robert,

      Your VA disability compensation shouldn’t have anything to do with buying back your military service credits from the FERS system. So yes, you will continue to be able to draw the full VA disability compensation payment.

      However, I recommend looking at your situation very closely before buying back your time, as you cannot have military service count toward an active duty retirement and a FERS retirement, even if you buy it back. You have to choose one or the other.

      However, that is not the case if you have a Guard or Reserve retirement. The military service credits you buy back can count toward both a Reserve retirement and FERS retirement.

      Be sure you are clear how buying back your military service credits will impact both your military retirement and the FERS retirement, and ensure this will be a net benefit for your situation. Run the numbers and have an expert double-check them for you.

      I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

  19. JT Zetd says

    Good Morning,

    I just sat with a OPM benefits counselor who was less informed than I. I wanted to know if you can pick and chose which years you’d like to buy back? Than a specific question about my own situation. I am age 60 with 21 yrs FERS, and I am eligible to retire (ANG) with 23yrs of service, 16 of which is active title 10, but have placed it on hold until I figure out this buy back program. I was told if you buy back your military, you cannot receive a military pension, the system is designed to make you take the annuity through the FERS system, is the true? Can I buy 3 yrs and still have receive both? Is that even worth doing? HELP, running out of time to make a decision.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello JT,

      You can receive both the FERS retirement and the military Reserve retirement in full. So if you retire from the Guard/Reserves, you will be able to buy back all of your eligible military time and it will count toward both retirement systems.

      The only time you have to choose which retirement system the points will count toward is when you retire from active duty military service.

      So the way to maximize both retirements is to buy back all eligible military time. Is this worth doing? That depends on the total cost of buying back your points. You will need to run the numbers to determine how much it will impact your FERS retirement plan. In general, the FERS system pension pays 1% of your high 3 salary per year of service. So buying back 16 years of service would add 16% of your high 3 pay to your pension. However, it has also likely been quite some time since you left military service, so buying back your points will be more expensive now than it would have been had you bought your points back right away.

      So you will need to run the numbers to verify if this is still a good deal, and what the payback time will be. Without knowing more, I would still assume it is worth doing. But there is no way to know until you run the numbers.

      Best wishes.

  20. Anthony Ezerski says

    Hi Ryan,

    I’m kind of a hybrid when it comes to my military time. I have 10 years of active duty time with the Army and I’m currently in my 4th year of the reserves. So when I retire from the reserves I’ll have about 10 active and 10 reserve. If I buy back my ten years of active time for my FERS will that decrease the amount of my eventual military retirement? (Note: I’m also 80% service connected through the VA). Thanks in advance for your help.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Anthony, Thank you for contacting me.

      No, you won’t lose any military time if you retire from both the Reserves and the FERS system. The FERS system specifically allows you to retire with both your Reserve benefits and your FERS benefits.

      The only time you have to choose is if you buy back your military time when you retire from active duty.

      I wish you the best, and thank you for your service.

  21. Stuart says

    Hi Ryan, I am an Air Force Reservist on an AGR tour. I have been either Active Duty or a Reserve AGR my entire career. I will hit 20 years of service / 7300 points in a few months. I intend to remain on AGR order for a few more years, likely to around 25 years of active service. My questions are: 1) After I’ve earned enough points for an active duty retirement, can I take a traditional / IMA / ART assignment and how would pay work? 2) Assume I take a GS position after I retire from the Reserve and claim an active duty retirement. Can I refile for a Reserve retirement when I turn 60, and then make a military deposit for my entire military career towards a GS retirement? Thank you.

  22. Sharon says

    My husband died with 21 years of military service as an enlisted man and 19 years of civilian service. He was actively employed as a GS 13 when he died. I am able to receive 1/2 of his civil service annuity. He had received a military pension and there is no survivor benefit for that annuity. It has been recommended to me to buy back his military time. Can I do that as his widow?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Sharon, I am sorry for your loss. I am not aware of any provisions that allow for surviving spouses to buy back military time after the member has passed away. My understanding is that the military service credit buy back program is only available to the member while they are currently employed by the Civil Service. I am not aware of any method for buying military service credits after leaving Civil Service employment. Again, I am sorry for your loss and I wish you the best.

  23. Mitch says

    I am wondering what would be the right move for me, if there is anything at all. “foolishly” left active duty after 10 year and with also 2 years of reserve duty. Now, I am turning 50 and realizing what I have left behind. Is there still any avenue for me to utilize my military time for some kind of retirement and still provide service to my country?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Mitch, Members can join the military again so long as they are able to pass the medical entrance exam and are able to complete 20 years of military service by the time they reach age 60 (sometimes later, with waivers). So it may be possible to join the Guard or Reserves to complete 20 years of military service and earn military retirement benefits.

      Other ways to use your military service to earn retirement benefits include joining the federal government – you can buy back your military time and use it toward a civil service retirement. Some states also offer a similar benefit. I hope this helps. I wish you the best, and thank you for your service.

  24. Chris says

    Hello, I recently paid in full my military service deposit to buy back four years of service with the Army. My understanding was that, by doing so, I could work 16 years as a Federal civilian employee and retire with 20 years of service as it counts toward my pension. However, I was recently told that this was incorrect. This person told me I have to work a full 20 years as a civilian but, at that point, I would have 24 years of creditable service. I guess my question is, can I retire at age 62 with 16 years of Federal service and four years of military service buyback so my pension is calculated at the 20 year rate?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Chris,

      Each year of military service you buy back will count one for one toward a year of service toward your FERS retirement. So if you have 16 years of FERS service and you buy back 4 years of active duty military time, you would have the equivalent of 20 years of FERS service.

      You would need to contact your HR department for your minimum retirement age based on your years of service. It all depends on when you join the FERS system, your age, and years of service. Your HR department is the best resource for this information.

      Best wishes!

  25. Joe says

    My scenario,

    After 14 years active duty I joined the Navy Reserves as a SELRES, I joined the Federal Gov’t and worked 9 years credible service. When I joined Federal service I bought back my military service time. How do I compute my vested annuity? Can I retire even though I did not meet the 10 year requirement? What age can I receive vested annuity? If I return to active duty and retire medical or regular will that affect a previous military buy back?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Joe, I am not an expert at the FERS system. From what I understand, you should be eligible to add the 14 years of active duty service time to your FERS retirement of 9 years, giving you a total of 23 years toward the FERS retirement. I believe civil service members only need 5 years of federal civil service to earn deferred FERS retirement benefits. If that is the case, then you have enough vested service to earn retirement benefits. I believe the 10 years comes into play for the Minimum Retirement Age (MRA) situation. So some members can retire with 10 years of civil service time, provided they have reached their MRA. You can retire with only five years of service, but you wouldn’t be able to receive benefits until you reach age 62.

      Yes, an active duty military retirement would impact your previous military buy back. You can only use the military service credits toward one retirement if you retire from active duty – so you would have to choose which one – military or FERS. However, your military service credits can count toward both a Reserve Component retirement and FERS retirement.

      All of this is based on my understanding, and I am not an expert in the FERS system. So be sure to verify this with an expert or your HR department. I wish you the best, and thank you for your service.

  26. Christina says

    Hello, can I buy back my service academy time even if I didn’t do 20 years of service following graduation?

    Thanks.

  27. John Oldershaw says

    Good afternoon Ryan,

    Excellent podcast!! Cleared up a lot of confusion. I already purchased back my 5 years active duty which extends my current VA service of 7 years to 12 years. I don’t plan on retiring anytime soon and am looking at another 8 years (bringing me 20 years). I am also delaying Social Security to maximize that benefit. I am eligible for Navy reserve retirement pay (having “good” 20 years). Is there any advantage/disadvantage to taking my Navy reserve retirement now?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello John, There is no advantage that I am aware of waiting to begin receiving your Reserve retirement benefits. This is generally age 60 for retirement pay and medical care. However, some members of the Reserve Component are eligible to begin receiving retirement pay early based on their deployments after January 2008.

      If you are eligible to begin drawing your Reserve retirement, then I would do so. I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

  28. carol wiles says

    Ryan,
    Tell me on how I can get my 5yrs. Reserve points towards my federal government retirement. I’ve already bought back 4 months active time. The HR people say you can only get it if you only been active
    or if you were calle you out for war in the Reserve. ( I just want my Reserve points for 5 yrs to include towards my retirement from the federal government). Can you please help me. Can you please send me article for Reserve benefits. Am I entitled to anything va home,medical, at retirement points that goes towards my federal government.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Carol, I am not an expert on the Civil Service military service credits system, but from my understanding, you can only buy back your active duty time. I do not believe it is possible to buy back your inactive points. I would follow the advice of your HR department in this regard.

      You may be eligible for VA Home Loan benefits if you served 6 years in the Reserves. You can learn more about VA Loan eligibility here.

      Regarding military retirement benefits – you need to serve 20 Good Years in the military to earn military retirement pay or health benefits. I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

  29. Humberto says

    Hello. I served active in the USMC for 3 years. Im currently on my second year working for NYC transit which offers Buy Back Military. Will I be able to work 5 more years (total 7 adding the past 2) and buy back 3 years and retire? So instead of working 10 I can retire after 7 if I buy back those 3? Thanks.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Humberto,

      Thank you for contacting me. This article covers buying back military service credits for Federal Civil Service. You will need to contact the NYC Transit Authority HR department for assistance with this question. Their rules may be different and I don’t want to give you incorrect information.

      I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

    • Fikree Williams says

      I have completed 10 years AD Army and about to start working for a Federal agency and trying to see what the cost would be to buyback my service.. and would I only have to complete 10 more years to be considered retired..

      • Ryan Guina says

        Hello Fikree, I recommend visiting your HR office to have a records review and an estimate for buying your military service credits. They should be able to help you understand how much it will cost to buy back your service time, as well as how it will impact your Federal Civil Service retirement.

        You can receive retirement benefits from the Civil Service with as little as 5 years of service. However, you would only receive a small pension and only once you reach retirement age. Buying back your military service credits will improve the retirement pension you would receive.

        That said, these are all questions that are better addressed by your HR office. They can provide much more thorough information.

        I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

  30. Sharyl says

    I’m currently 62 and considering getting a federal job. I understand that once I get that job, I’m eligible to buy back the four years of active duty I served from 1978 to 1982.

    My question is does the four years of buyback time count toward the 5-year certifiable employment, or do I have to work 5 years at that job and when I retire, my pension will be based on 9 years? In other words can I work one year, buy back four and retire?

    Thank you!

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Sharyl,

      You need to work a minimum of 5 years in the Federal Civil Service to be eligible for retirement. If you buy back your time, you would have 9 years of service toward retirement.

      You would not be able to work one year in the Federal Civil Service, buy back four years of military service, and be eligible to retire.

      I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

  31. Christian says

    Hi Ryan,

    I served in the US Army Reserves for about 12 1/2 years. I never did any active duty time other than Basic Training, AIT, 14/17-day annual trainings every year and the occasional MOS refresher training schools (3-7 days)-in addition to the one weekend a month duties. I just started at the US Post Office on 6/1/2019 as a CCA. When I receive my career appointment, will my reserve time count at all towards the military buyback program or am I just out of luck.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Christian,

      I believe you can only buy back your active duty time. Your HR department can clarify which service time you can buy back and how to start the process.

      I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

  32. chim says

    Hi Ryan,
    I have 8 years in the ARNG, in which 1 year was AD. Would my 8 years in the ARNG count or is it only AD status on my DD-214 would count for buy back?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Chim, From what I understand, you can only buy back your active duty time. Your HR department can walk you through the process and give you a better idea of what your benefits are and which time you can buy back. I recommend doing it as soon as possible, as it also increases your time in service for your vacation days.

      I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

  33. Adrian says

    Ryan,
    I was active duty enlisted for four years (1987-1991) before joining the reserves. While in the reserves I got my commission and served until 2011. I have a civilian job in local government, where I have been employed for the past 22 years. My question is, can I buy back the four years of active service, and what is the rate of calculation? Is it based on my active duty pay or my civilian pay?
    V/r,
    Adrian

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Adrian, I can’t answer for local government service, as each local government may have different rules and regulations. The federal civil service allows veterans to buy back their active duty time only. The buy back is based on their military pay, not civilian pay.

      However, state, local, and first responder organizations may each have different rules. You will need to contact your HR department for more information.

      I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

  34. David says

    I am DOD AF civilian. When I started 12 years ago, I did all the paperwork for buying my time back. This was completed, with one exception.
    I never actually made any deposits. I have searched and searched, ask many questions and I can not find this answer.
    Who did I need to contact about STARTING payroll deduction?
    I have called many places and just get the run around story!
    I cant believe its this hard to give money away!
    HELP!!

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello David, the best bet is to contact your HR department. They should be able to assist you. Go in person, if possible. If that isn’t possible, then get someone on the phone and stay on the line until they can get you a reference or an actual answer. Best wishes.

  35. carol says

    I spent 5 yrs Army Reserve . Why can’t I used that for buy back. I only got to use 4 months active that was basic training and my most school. I work at the VA in Portland, Oregon August will be 18yrs. If I could just use buy back for 5 yrs Reserve points. Please help me I’m just getting the run around.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Carol, So far as I am aware, you can only buy back active duty time. That is how the rules and/or laws are written. You would need to contact your Human Resources office for more information. I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

  36. Mike says

    Ryan,
    I’m a Military technician in the ANG. I’m buying back time to retire at my Min Retirement Age (56.5 yrs old) with 31 years allowing me to draw full FERS retirement at that time.
    At the rate I’m getting “points” for retirement on the Mil side, i will have 7500+ish points when i retire (May of 2024).
    I’m hearing there is a limit (7200?) of how many points i can retire from the Military side and keep credit for the military deposit (buying back 12.2 years) on the FERS side.
    Of the 7500ish points I’m anticipating, i would stay just under 18 yrs AF Active duty points (no sanctuary or active retirement) and the rest are inactive duty points. I would be eligible to collect mil retirement at 57 and 3 months due to deployments after 2008.
    Is there, in fact, a limit to the total number of points on the mil side that if i go over, it would affect the FERS retirement?
    I’ve looked at Chptr 1223, Title 10 of the USC Code and don’t see anything about it. But, my HRO person says if i go past this magic number of total points i will lose the mil deposit years on the FERs side. Any help is appreciated.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Mike,

      I don’t have an answer here. I’m not an expert in the FERS system. So you will need to work with an HR rep or an expert in the FERS retirement plan. That said, I would request a copy of the reg if they insist there is a limit to the number of points you can buy back. 

      I know you cannot use the same military service credits to apply to both an active duty retirement and a FERS retirement. However, you can use them for both a Reserve retirement and a FERS retirement. I’m just not aware of any points limitations.

      7,200 points is the equivalent of 20 years of active duty service. But that doesn’t mean it is calculated the same for buying service credits.
      I would seek an expert on the topic and again, get it in writing.

      Please let me know if you have already found the answer to your question – I would be happy to update the site to reflect this information!

  37. Rudy Lopez says

    Hello Ryan,

    I retired from the Marines with 20-yrs of service as a CW-3 and drawing on my military annuity. I am now a Federal employee (GS-15) and due to retire within the next 4-years, with 23-years of federal service.

    Would I benefit from the “Military Buyback Program” and if so, what would be my penalty should I buy-in? What other factors should I consider? I get mix signals that it is not advantageous to buyback military time as a retiree. In other words, doesn’t make financial sense.

    Thanks in advance,

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Rudy, in many cases it does not make sense for active duty retirees to buy back their military service credits in the FERS system, because federal law only allows that time to count toward either an active duty retirement of the FERS retirement. You would have to run the numbers to determine if it would be worth buying back your time and foregoing the military pension. Your HRO should be able to help you understand how much it would cost to buy back your military service credits and how it would impact your FERS retirement.

  38. Gladys Lloret says

    Hi, I worked 5 yrs Active Duty and 15 yrs Army Reserve. I have 20 years at USPS. I have a VA disability compensation. Can I buy my military active duty time without this affecting my retirement pay from the reserve and my retirement pay from the post office when I retire? Where can I find this information? Thanks

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Gladys, Yes, I believe you will be able to receive both your Reserve retirement and your USPS retirement if you buy back your military service time. This will not negatively impact either retirement pay and will increase your USPS retirement pay.

      You will need to buy back your military service prior to retiring from the USPS. Your Human Resources office should have more information on this process, including how to start the process, and any other rules or procedures.

  39. TerryP says

    Ryan,

    Could you reference the Federal Law that doesn’t allow an Active Duty Retiree to buy back their time? I know, recently, of a Federal worker with 7 or 8 years that was a 22 year Active Duty Air Force retiree who accepted early FERS retirement and bought back his 22 years and it was applied toward his now FERS retirement. He, of course, did have to waive his military retirement for those years to be counted.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Terry, Active Duty Retirees are able to buy back their military service time. They just have to waive their military retirement pay if they do so. In most cases, this doesn’t make financial sense. However, it can sometimes make sense if:

      – a military member retired at a lower rank and/or retirement multiple (such as REDUX with a 2% multiplier and slow COLA increases), AND
      – the member has a high-paying civil service job and enough combined years to make up the difference.

      The key here is to run the numbers to ensure there will be a net financial gain when buying military service credits. It doesn’t usually work out. But there can certainly be times when it does.

      Active duty retirees are able to submit their service records to the civil service HR department and gain other benefits, such as increased rate of leave and other benefits. However, this is only based on time spent on deployments, not total active duty service time. This is something the member should discuss with their HR department for specific details.

  40. Eddie Childress says

    I bought back my military time which was from1972-1976. I went to work for the postal service after military. I have retired from the U.S. Postal service and am turning 65 this year. I have only made social security deposit while in high school and during 4 years of military and do not qualify for social security. I was told I could ask for a refund of social security deposit since I am never going to be eligible for benefits. Is this true and if so how do I file for the refund?
    Thanks

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Eddie, Thank you for contacting me. I’m not sure – I’m not an expert on Social Security Benefits. I recommend contacting the Social Security Administration for more information. If this is true, they should also be able to help you file a claim for the Social Security Deposit Refund. I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

  41. TJ says

    I was medically retired from the Army at 60%. I also received a VA rating of 60%. Since the VA rating covers the Army rating in pay I don’t receive any monetary payments from the Army. Am I allowed to buy back my time since I’m retired, and would it be worth it?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello TJ, This is a great question, but I’m not 100% certain of the answer. I believe you would need to agree to waive your military retirement pay in order to buy back your military service credits and apply those years to the federal government.

      But I’m not sure the impact since you are already essentially waiving that compensation.

      I recommend speaking with an expert who specializes in the civil service human resources sector. This is something you absolutely want to ensure you get done correctly the first time!

      I’m sorry I don’t have a better answer for you, but this deserves the attention of an expert.

      I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

  42. Edward Dehoyos says

    Can I buy back my military time after leaving federal service? I did 10 years in federal service and 14 military. I’m currently working in the private sector.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Edward, No, you can only buy back your military service credits while you are employed by the government. You cannot do it after leaving the civil service. I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

  43. Jimmy says

    Hello : I was a Navy Reservist for 14 years from 1987-2001. I started working for the Federal Govt. in 1998 and still a current employee. Can I get credit for my military time , all 14 years (active duty time for deployments and other time) ? I did request my military records and they mailed me records(a CD disc) but didn’t have any orders in the records. The government wants official orders. 1. How would I obtain these military orders and 2. Would I be able to get credit for all the active time I spent during these 14 years ? Thanks

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Jimmy,

      Thank you for contacting me. Yes, you should be able to buy military service credits for your active duty time. You would need to provide the Human Resources office with a copy of your last DD Form 214, which should show the number of active duty days you served. If they need other records, then you will need to ask them which specific records they need. When you have that information, you can contact your branch of service’s personnel office and request the specific records.

      This may take some time and patience if you need to go back and forth between offices. But it will be well worth it in the long run.

      I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

  44. Michael Milburn says

    Ryan,

    Great post on this. The 2 questions I have that doesn’t seem to have a straight answer. I did not retire but left after 9 years of service in 2017.

    1) would I be eligible for any of the lower FERS (.8 or 3.3% in 2013) since I was on active duty in 2013?

    2) When do you pay that % to FERS? During retirement or through each current paycheck?

    Thanks,
    Michael

  45. Louis says

    Hello…I completed 20 years as a reservist and bought back 5 1/2 of active duty with the federal government in which is added to my federal retirement. Will this affect my military retirement pay or will I get both retirement in full?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Louis, You can receive both your full military Reserve retirement pay and your full federal civil service retirement pay with the years you bought back. This almost sounds like double-dipping, but it is allowed by law.

      I hope this answers your question!

  46. Andreas Simmons says

    Did 12 years Army and half way into buying it back. After completing 17 years as a DOD civilian, I’m applying for federal disability retirement. It’s confusing on wether continuing to buy back the time is worth it. How does it effect disability retirement?
    Andy

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Andy, This is outside my expertise level. I recommend speaking with your HR department or a specialist who deals with civil service retirement benefits.

      I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

  47. Jake says

    I have a client that is able to buy back his military time to increase his state pension for the rest of his life and will break even in approximately 13 years. If he uses some of his deferred compensation to buy that time is it a taxable event?

  48. Sam Henderson says

    If you have served an overseas tour as a DOD Civilian. You are the authorized to have up to 360 hours of leave annually

  49. Andrew says

    As a retired Reservist and a current Federal Employee, this article takes away much of the confusion as well as any I’ve read so far. Thank you for posting this.

  50. David Babins says

    I had a stroke at 53. My Human Resources told me I was eligible for immediate retirement. It was granted then disallowed for inadequate service credit. I told my Human Resources I want to buy back my prior military service prior to submitting my application but I was told that was not possible. My attorney now, while in reconsideration, says it is essential that I make a deposit for my prior service, but no one will take it. I had nearly 8 years in the navy. Please provide some HELP!

  51. Rob M says

    I started employment with the Federal Government in 1995. I bought back the 6 1/2 years that I had on active duty. At that time, you could not buy back your Service Academy time. Do you know when that changed? The reason I ask is because I would think that the interest clock would start ticking from the date that you were allowed to buy that time back, not from when I first came on. Thanks in advance.

  52. JOHNNY JOHNSTON says

    I served between 2/2/1977 and 2/2/1980…was on Reserve Status until
    2/2/1983…Can I get a job somewhere that will count toward my retirement?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Johnny, Thank you for your question. Your military service time may count toward retirement if you join the federal civil service or certain state and local jobs. You would need to check with your state or local government to see if your military service time will transfer or if you can buy back service credits. I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

  53. lee says

    Good evening;

    I have been referred for two separate Gov’t jobs. I have 8 years Enlisted, 5 years in the army reserves, & 17 years as an army officer. I did not retire, however, I am retirement eligible.

    1.) Do you believe I will be able to buy back all of my years? What do I gain?

    2.) Do I have to waive any of my years, even though I have not retired from either Active Duty nor from US Army Reserves?

    3.) When the time comes for me to retire completely from the US Army Reserves, will my military retirement check be reduced?

    4.) If I am found Service-Connected by the VA during my employment with the VA or any other federal civilian job, will buying back military service time, reduce my federal civilian retirement when it’s time for me to retire.

    v/r

    lee

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Lee,

      Thank you for your questions. You should be able to buy back your military service credits unless you receive an active duty retirement. You can receive both a Reserve retirement and civil service retirement without it impacting either retirement.

      1. You should be able to buy back the majority of your service time. However, I cannot answer in absolutes because there may be exceptions I am not aware of. You should be able to get an estimate from the civil service Human Resources office when you apply.

      2. Not that I am aware of.

      3. Not if you have a reserve retirement.

      4. VA Service-Connected Disability benefits will not impact your civil service pay or retirement in any way. The only time a service-connected disability can impact you is by giving you additional veterans preference points.

      I hope this is helpful. I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

  54. Susan D says

    Hi was in the SAM program in the early 90s- We did our basic training and school in the USNR. I spent 8 yrs in the reserves. I was able to buy back my time from basic training and school, as that’s what my net active service period shows DD219- 12a; My DD219 does not show my service time when I did weekend duty or 2 weeks a year. I requested my service record and received my history of assignments-NAVPERS 1070/605- which shows each 2 week duty. Can the time spent for the one weekend a month and the 2 weeks year be bought back? If so does the DD219 need to be requested to be corrected? Thank you.

    • Terry Pitts says

      The two-week active duty periods count. This is covered in the FERS manual. I had to fight the “it’s not on your DD-214 battle” but eventually prevailed.

      Drill weekends do not count; this time is not active duty. The simple test is whether or not you got allowances (yes – active duty; no – not active duty). Drill weekends provide four days’ pay, but no allowances.

      I had 98 sets of orders from my active/reserve career. CPAC didn’t want to count anything that wasn’t on a DD-214. That is incorrect – orders for one day, one week, one month, one year, one tour – they all count.

      Good Luck!

      • Mark says

        Terry, I am very interested in how you were able to get your CPAC to count your Active Duty for Training (Reserve Orders) towards your military buyback. Specifically, were you able to get DFAS to include your those training days in your estimated earnings? I submitted over 20 orders to DFAS and they completely ignored them. Any suggestions?

        -Mark

  55. Brent Wesley Amos says

    I am a disability annuitant who was recently subjected to an adjustment in my disability annuity; based upon belated receipt of Social Security benefits after my claim for disability was accepted by OPM. I subsequently found out; that I was incorrectly placed in FERS System; when the correct system was CSRS, and that military service deposits made for 10.80 years of service was not coordinated with OPM; wherein they admitted that they had no record that I ever made deposits.
    “It was later proven that the Agency did not properly update, or coordinate the payments with OPM upon my retirement. My question to you is;

    “IS A CSRS ANNUITANT WHO HAS DOCUMENTED PROOF OF MILITARY SERVICE DEPOSITS PAID IN AT 7%; WHO HAS BEEN INCORRECTLY P[ACED IN FERS BY THE AGENCY; WOULD SUCH AN INDIVIDUAL BE EXEMPT FROM THE SOCIAL SECURITY REDUCTION UNDER 5 USC 8452(a)(2).” Why this question? “After 20 years on Disability annuity; my annuity was reduced from a paltry $1,592.00 per month to a present net $104.00 cents per month. Also my SCD date is 3/17/1981, and I have military service from 8/5/1980 thru 10/13/1991. (10.8 years) My service with the Federal Agency was 11-17/1991 thru 11-28-1997. (6 years) Your assistance would be greatly appreciated.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Brent, I am not an expert on the federal retirement system. If you have proof of your civilian Leave and Earnings Statements and your military service deposits, then you should provide copies of those to a civil service human resources officer and try to get your records corrected. The Civil Service should have a central authority for records updates. You will need to work with them to understand how this will impact your civilian retirement, and whether or not it will impact your Social Security benefits. You will need to resolve this issue before you can work with the Social Security Administration to make any possible corrections to your social security benefits. I hope this points you in the right direction. I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

  56. Salias Hargarrett says

    Hello Sir, I have a question? I have 6 1/2 years active duty and the rest AR,
    totaly 12 years.
    I also have 6 1/2 Federal Goverment service can I buy my remaining years and
    retire?
    I have the money to paid it all.
    I am single and in my 50th.

    Best Regards

    Commo Har

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Salias, I don’t have enough information to answer your question. You will need to contact your Human Resources office. They will be able to review your personnel file and give you more specific information. I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

  57. Keith says

    Hey Ryan, my question is; i have 5 years of Active Duty time with the Army Nation Guard but i havent worked in federal job. I have worked for the past 15 yrs as a Deputy Sheriff (county/state retirement). Are the buy back rules the same for county and state employees?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Keith, Each state and/or county may have their own policies, so I don’t have enough information to answer your question. You will need to contact your Human Resources office. They will be able to review your personnel file and give you more specific information. I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

  58. Alma Green says

    I am retired from the navy with a 20 year career and am receiving a military pension. I was also a graduate of the Naval Academy. I recently started a career working for the Department of the Navy as a civilian employee. I’ve been working with my HR folks to get credit for my 4 years at the academy for leave accrual. They tell me I am not entitled to that credit. They point to 5 U.S.C. 6303 (a). Are they correct? If not, what regulation says I can get credit for my academy time even though I am retired from the military?

    • Earl Goodson says

      Academy time can be used for certain years. It stopped at 1981 for me so I can use it to add to the federal pension total years of service.

  59. Olga says

    Hi Ryan,
    I was medically retired from the active duty after 6 years of service (discharge is honorable), and I receive VA pension (not DOD!) for service connected disability. I also work at VA. Would I be able to buy back military time under this scenario? I noted, somebody already asked similar question, but I do not see the answer.
    Thank you!

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Olga, Thank you for contacting me. Yes, so far as I am aware, you should be eligible to buy back your military service time. This should help you increase your government service time and increase your government pension when you reach retirement age. I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Nick, Thank you for contacting me. I do not believe you can borrow from your buyback. I’m also not sure if you can cancel and receive a refund. I would recommend against it unless it is an extreme financial emergency, as it would substantially decrease your pension. The best thing to do is contact your Human Resources office to inquire about these questions. I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

  60. Carl Phillips says

    Ryan,

    If I am currently still serving in Navy Reserves and am a Federal employee buying back my time, will the buy back take away my years of military service and make it where I won’t be able to reach 20 years in the Reserves and retire successfully? Reason I ask is I noticed after the buy back my total satisfactory federal service in years dropped along with my points after my first anniversary. Should I wait until I retire from reserves to initiate a buy back? Please help!

    Very Respectfully
    Chief Phillips

    • Ryan Guina says

      Chief Phillips, Thank you for contacting me. No, buying your time back has no impact on your military Reserve retirement eligibility, points, or status. You can earn both the military retirement and the civil service retirement without impacting the other one. I recommend contacting your personnel office to find out why your point and satisfactory service numbers have changed. They should remain unaffected. I hope this points you in the right direction. Best of luck, and thank you for your service!

  61. dee says

    I medically retired with almost ten yrs active duty, I am almost to my 3 year mark as a federal employee. If I buy back time 9yr does that mean that I would only have 8 more years before I retired as a fed employee?
    all but $57 is waivered by VA for my disability.

    please help

  62. Brian says

    Hi Ryan,

    I have 6 years left till I can retire in ANG. I currently have almost 3 years as a Fed. If i am understanding you correctly I can sell only my ACTIVE duty time back which is nearly 10 years out all 14 years total amongst Guard and Reserves time AND I can still get a pension later on from ANG for hitting 20 years in addition to working my way towards a FERS retirement pension?

    Sounds too good to be true.

    Thank You

    Brian

  63. Jim says

    Hi Ryan,
    You wrote “Federal law prohibits retired active duty military members from buying back their military time and adding it to their FERS pension.” What is the actual federal law? I know it is not advantageous to buyback military time if you retired.

    Thanks
    Jim

  64. James Fann says

    I am starting the buy back process. I have 12 years military service with an estimated earnings of $162.045. I just started a federal job 1 July 2016. My estimated buy back amount is $4861.00. My questions are, I received separation pay but the military is in the process of recouping that amount through my service connected disability (almost done). Will this effect my retirement pay? What other factors should I consider.

    Thanks in advance.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello James, Thank you for contacting me. This is a great question, and to be honest, I don’t know how (or even if) separation pay affects the military buy back. It’s possible that this counts as military compensation, and you may have to buy this back as well. I would verify with your HR department before assuming you do not have to buy back that compensation. Be sure to ask if you are still required to buy that back if it has been recouped from the VA.

      Sorry I don’t have a better answer! I wish you the best, and please let me know what you find out. I’ll be sure to add an update to the page to help other veterans. Best of luck, and thank you for your service!

  65. Fixxer4351 says

    Question: Is there a limit to how long one is given to complete the “buy-back process” once you’ve started it?

    Background: I’m a reservist who is buying back 10 years. Can someone explain why I have to pay 5% of my calculated DFAS earnings rather than 1% or 3% as others have? Is that dependent on the government agency you’re working for? It amounts to more than 20K of which I don’t have “on hand”. I’ve been doing deductions for two years from my paycheck but only a small amount because of other priorities (single income family). Now I’ll have to pay interest on the amount that I still have to buy back (which I’m fine with). I can afford to make an increase in my deductions from my paycheck but not a large increase. Therefore I’ll continue to be paying this back for (what I think is a long time). Is there a time limit to how long one is given to actually complete the buy-back process?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Fixxer4351, There is no interest charged if you complete the buy back within the first 2 years of federal employment. After that, they start charging interest. So that could be where the 5% comes from. I would verify with your HR department so you have a full understanding. As for increasing your payments, that may be a good idea as it will decrease the amount of time it takes to complete the buy back, and it will reduce the total amount of money you spend on the buy back.

      • Fixxer4351 says

        Hi Ryan,
        Thanks for the response. If I understand your response though, while I will increase my payments (and incur interest charges), there is no limit to the total time I have to buy back my military time once I’m enrolled (as I am now) as long as I remain employed with the federal government?
        fixxer

      • Chase says

        Fixxer,

        The only time limit you have is that you must completely pay off the amount before you retire from Federal Gov’t.

  66. Matt says

    What about for individuals who were medically retired? I know the rules about the disability having to be combat-related, but in the FERS Handbook, it mentions that it does not consider VA compensation as “retired pay”. I was in the Air Force for 10 years before i was medically retired. All of my compensation is derived from the VA (i waived the military pay because it just made more sense). Are those 10 years gone for good, when it comes to leave accrual or changing the SCD?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hi Matt, This is a great question, and one I don’t know the answer to. I recommend contacting your HR department if you are in the FERS system. They will be able to tell you how your military time would be calculated and how much would apply toward the FERS retirement.

  67. K. C. says

    “For example, until you reach the 3-year point, you only accrue 4 hours of leave per two week period, but you accrue leave at 6 hours per pay period over 3 years of service. The next threshold is 8-years of service, which equates to 8 hours, or one day off work, per pay period.”

    Your statement above is not quite accurate. I believe that it should read as follows.

    “For example, until you reach 3-years of civilian service, you accrue 4 hours of annual leave per (two week) pay period, but you accrue annual leave at 6 hours per pay period between 3 and 15 years of civilian service. Over 15 years of civilian service, you accrue one day off work (8 hours) of annual leave, per pay period.”

    Feel free to update the paragraph above.

    Source: https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/leave-administration/fact-sheets/annual-leave/

  68. mark androff says

    I enlisted in the Naval Reserve (NR) in June 1973, was recalled to active duty (AD). After my 4 years of AD I was released from AD and TRF to inactive duty in NR. The day after my release from AD I affiliated in the SELRES, was discharged & reenlisted, the next day I was recalled to active duty in the TAR program (Training and Administration of Naval Reserve). I served on AD in the NR as a TAR until JUN95 (22 years) I was transferred to the Fleet Reserve, my DD214 shows my category as USNR. I know that USN and officer retirees cannot by back their time, and I have just received the estimat from DFAS on my total earnings, the question is that since my retirement pay is from a USNR retirement per 32 CFR CH1 Part 102, do I get to keep my Navy retirement pay?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Mark, Thank you for contacting me. I don’t have a good answer here. If you are receiving military retirement pay right now, then I do not believe you are able to buy back your time. However, I’m not 100% certain. I recommend speaking with your HR department and asking for a written reference so you can verify the regulations. You could also ask Eddie Wills, who was interviewed in this article. Here is his site. I hope this is helpful. Best of luck, and thank you for your service!

      • K. C. says

        It seems highly unlikely that you would be able to buy back your military time. The rules state you can only buy back your time if you were rewarded retirement pay:

        1. Due to a service-connected disability either incurred in combat with an enemy of the United States or caused by an instrumentality of war and incurred in the line of duty during a period of war, or
        2. Under the provisions of Chapter 1223, Title 10, U.S.C. (pertaining to retirement from a reserve component of the Armed Forces).

        Note though, “you can elect to waive the retired pay and have the military service added to your civilian service in computing your FERS annuity. In addition to waiving your military retired pay you MUST pay a deposit for your post 1956 military deposit prior to separating from your agency in order for it to be creditable in your FERS retirement case.”

        Rarely does it make sense to give up your active duty pension as the paragraph above states. If you retired at a low rank and a low military pension AND you were retiring at a high GS or at an SES level, it might be worth looking at making the deposit. For most others, the numbers just would not add up. You would have to run the numbers to your specific circumstance(s) in order to make this determination. If you do give up your military pension to do this, you retain all other military retirement benefits.

      • dee says

        I medically retired due to an airborne jump injury, 9 years. I am a civilian fed employee at 3 years. VA waived all but $57 of my retire pay. if I buy back time is it true that I would only have to work 8 more years to make my 20 as a fed employee?

Disclaimer: The content on this site is for informational and entertainment purposes only and is not professional financial advice. References to third party products, rates, and offers may change without notice. Please visit the referenced site for current information. We may receive compensation through affiliate or advertising relationships from products mentioned on this site. However, we do not accept compensation for positive reviews; all reviews on this site represent the opinions of the author. Privacy Policy

Editorial Disclosure: This content is not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the bank advertiser, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. This site may be compensated through the bank advertiser Affiliate Program.