Buying back military time


Q: If I buy back my military time, can I collect both military retirement and Federal Employees Retirement System benefits?

My situation is this: I am 58 years old, and I started a job with the federal government Sept. 26, 2010. My prior military service consists of nine years on active duty and 14 years in the reserves. I have submitted the forms to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service and have received my cost calculation to buy back my active-duty years.

I am eligible to collect my military retirement when I turn 60. I plan to continue working for the federal government until age 70, which would give me 12 years of actual federal service plus the buyback of the nine active-duty years. Can I collect my military retirement at age 60 as scheduled, and when I retire at age 70, collect both retirements? Is that considered double-dipping, because the nine active-duty years are used to complete the required military time to qualify for retirement?

I have read answers that go both ways; some say I can collect both, others say I will need to sign a waiver to decline my military retirement pay in lieu of FERS pay. If the latter is the case, does that mean I can collect my military retirement until such time that I retire from federal service, then sign a waiver to decline further military retirement and receive FERS pay? If that is so, is that financially to my benefit?

A: Because you are retiring from the reserves, making a deposit for your years of active-duty service won’t have any affect on the timing or amount of your reserve retired pay. It will be used to increase your years of civilian service and be used in your annuity calculation. Only members of the military who are retiring from active duty are required to both make a deposit for that time and waive their military 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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