Q: I worked for the federal government for 13 years as a civilian contractor for the Army, from 1981 to 1994. I just returned to work for the federal government as an auditor in May. I took a lump-sum payment when I retired in 1994 and would like to buy back into the retirement system. What forms do I need in order to do this? To complicate matters, I am a veteran. I was in the Army from 1959 to 1962.
A: Because you took a refund of your retirement contributions after March 1, 1991, you’ll have to redeposit that money, plus accrued interest, to get credit for it. To do that, you’ll have to fill out a copy of Standard Form 2803, Application to Make Deposit or Redeposit, and send it to OPM, Retirement Operations Center, P.O. Box 45, Boyers, PA 16017-0045. Because your period of active-duty military service occurred before October 1, 1982, you’ll automatically get credit for that time in determining your eligibility to retire. However, if you don’t make a deposit for that time and are eligible for a Social Security benefit at age 62 (or later if you retire after reaching 62). Those years will be eliminated and your annuity reduced accordingly. To find out how much you would owe, you’ll need to fill out a copy of RI-20-97, Estimated Earnings During Military Service, and mail it to the finance center for your branch of service, along with a copy of your DD 214, Report of Transfer or Discharge. When you get the estimate, take it with a copy of your DD 214 and a Standard Form 2803 to your local payroll office. They’ll figure out how much you owe and how to go about making the payment, if you decide to do that. You can get a copy of the SF and RI forms from your personnel office or download copies at www.opm.gov, click on Find form(s).