Basics of military-federal retirement


Q: I’m confused by what I’m reading regarding forfeiting military retirement pay. In some cases, your answer states the individual will not lose his military retirement pay if he buys back the time. Other answers say that the individual must waive his military retirement. Do only the 20-year active-duty retirees forfeit military retirement pay?

I’m a reservist who will retire in three years at my 20-year total service mark, 11 of which were active duty. I’ve been offered a GS position that I am considering. I would like to receive credit for those 11 years, and it appears that my military retirement at age 60 would be unaffected, but some of your answers say that I might have to give up the military retirement and join the Federal Employees Retirement System. Are only the active-duty military retirees with 20 years of service required to waive their military retirement pay?

A: You haven’t read carefully enough. Only those who are receiving military retired pay are required to waive that pay if they want to get credit for that time in determining their eligibility to retire and in their annuity computation. Those who are receive reserve retired pay aren’t. In the first case, they are receiving retired pay based on an active-duty career in the armed forces. In the second, they are receiving retired pay largely based on time spent in the reserves. In either case, they are usually required to make a deposit for any periods of active-duty service for which they want to get credit.


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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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