Is buying back military time a good idea?


Q: I am a Federal Employees Retirement System employee who started as a civilian federal employee in 1989 after 5½ years of active-duty military service. I am 49 years old. I am trying to figure out if it would make sense to buy back my military time. Is there a retirement age gap between when it would be a good idea and when it would not be? I am currently a GS-11 and the buy-back amount would be a little under $6,000. I also retired from the Army Reserve back in 2000.

A: I can’t tell you whether you should make a deposit to get credit for your period of active-duty service. What I can tell you is what it would get you. Assuming that you now have 21 years of civilian service, if you made the deposit you’d have 26.5 years of service; when you retire, your annuity would be 5.5 percent higher than it otherwise would be. Note: Making a deposit for that period of military service would have no effect on your reserve retired pay.


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Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to

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