Army Reserve benefits and military buyback


Q: I have 31 years in the Army, six years of which is active duty, and I’m still on reserve status. I’ve been working at a Veterans Affairs Department hospital for more than 20 years and plan to stay there until I have 30 years of service. I’m presently buying back the six years of active-duty time, and it is going to cost $12,000. First of all, is it worth it for me to buy back this time? I have heard when you retire from the federal government, you will only get either your federal retirement with your active-duty buyback time added, or you will get your military retirement, but not both. I am wondering if it is in my best interest to buy back this active-duty time, and if I do, will I get both my Army Reserve retirement and my federal retirement, or just one of those two? If I only get one, how to I figure out which one to take?

A: It will be easier for you to make a decision after I clear up a misunderstanding: Making a deposit to get credit for your years of active-duty service in you civilian annuity won’t have any affect on your Army Reserve retired pay. You’ll be able to receive both benefits without a reduction in either of them.


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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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