Military buyback deadline?


Q: I am a reservist and had 8 1/2 years of civilian federal service (under FERS) when I was recalled to active duty right after 9/11. I have been a reservist on active duty for the past 10 years and am still on leave without pay status (LWOP) with the agency I was recalled from. How long would I have to return to the agency in order to make a deposit on my 10 years of active duty? I have about 80 hours of leave on the books. Is there a certain time period that I would have to return to the agency to make the deposit or could I come off of LWOP status, go into LV status, make the deposit and then separate? I’d plan to apply for a deferred retirement when I’m eligible. Also, is the deposit 3 percent of military base pay?

A: There isn’t any time limit on the amount of time that you’d have to remain on your agency’s roll if you returned to your civilian position. However, in practical terms, it would have to be long enough to complete the process of making a deposit to the civilian retirement system. First, you’d have to apply to your branch of service to find the amount of basic pay you earned while on active duty. Then you’d need to take that information to your payroll office and arrange to make the deposit. If all your active duty service was performed after December 31, 2000, you’d only need to deposit 3 percent of your basic military pay. If you did that within two years of the day you re-entered your civilian position, no interest would be charged. After you completed the process and resigned from the government, you’d be eligible for a deferred annuity at age 62; however, if you waited to resign until you had a total of 20 years of combined service, you could apply for a deferred annuity at age 60.


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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


  1. Kathy williams on

    My husband had a reduction in force and he was given 22k upon separation after 11 years active. He then immediately became a reservist and completed an additional number of years which equaled 32 years total. He is now a GS employee. What happens now? We think he has to pay that 22k back in pmts, but should he start making payments right now?. We understand (we hope) he gets his retirement check, but at what reduction when paying back his 22k? He receives his pay at 57 since he deployed so many times. We are lost and do not know what to expect. He turns 57 on October 26, in 2 months. Last, we have GS medical. Can we use Tri-Care prime, while in the GS System? Or do we pay both policies until he retires (for me) please help us understand, thank you

    • I need more information. In what year did the RIF take place? In what year did he return to work for the government? In which retirement system is he in now, CSRS or FERS? You mention “GS medical.” but you haven’t told me which plan he is in, for example, Blue Cross/Blue Shield or GEHA. When I have all that information I may be able to help you.

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