Reserve service and retirement pay


Q: I served 11 years, 8 months as active duty in the USAF. I served from 1983-1995 and was honorably discharged. I joined the Army Reserve Nov. 6, 2009, and am currently still in the reserves. I have elected to take a position with Indian Health Services Hospital, and I have some questions about retirement. 1) I was told I would have to buy back my 11 years and 8 months within three years, otherwise interest would be added on. How much would I have to pay to buy my time? I was an E5 when I was discharged. 2) If I elect to stay in the Army Reserve, and serve my years to draw my retirement in the Army, may I draw both retirements? 3) My time in the reserve, as I understand, does not count toward my FERS retirement unless I am called to active duty, is that correct? And if so, do I have to buy that back as well?

A: To get credit for any periods of active duty — not reserve — service, you’ll have to make a deposit to the civilian retirement fund. To find out how much you would owe, complete Form RI-20-97, Estimated Earnings During Military Service, and mail it along with a copy of your DD-214, Report of Transfer or Discharge, to your military finance center. When the information comes back, take it to your payroll office, along with a copy of your DD-214 and a Standard Form 3108, Application to Make Service Credit Payment. The forms are available at, click on Find Form(s). Your payroll office will determine the amount you owe and arrange a payment schedule if you decide to do that. No interest will be changed if you complete the deposit within the time frame.  Making a deposit will have no affect on your entitlement to receive reserve 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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