Credit for active duty service


Q: I am sure that you have answered this question before — it seems so basic to me — but I could not find a comparable Q&A on your site. Here goes: I have 11 years, 2 months, 20 days of active Air Force service, no Guard or reserve (retired from Guard but I believe it’s irrelevant; no active time other than for training). I have been tentatively hired by DECA as a GS 4 (awaiting clearance paperwork). I don’t know anything about federal retirement plans, as I am not in one yet. How will the “buyback” of my time work? Is there someplace I can go to online, a manual or guideline, to educate myself on this?

A: You can make a deposit for your period of active duty service and get credit for that time in determining your length of civilian service and in your civilian annuity computation. If you complete the deposit within two years after you come on board, you won’t be charged any interest. You’ll need to complete a copy of form RI-20-97, Estimated Earnings During Military Service, and mail it to your military finance center with a copy of your DD Form 214, Report of Transfer or Discharge. When they get back to you, take that letter, a copy of your DD-214 and Standard Form 3108, Application to Make Service Credit Payment, to your local payroll office and request an estimate of the deposit required. They can arrange a payment schedule or you can deposit the amount in a lump sum. You can get copies of the RI and Standard Forms from your personnel office or download them at, click on Find Form(s).


About Author

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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