Combining service time


Q: I have approx 10.2 years of active military service. I relocated and worked approximately two years with the U.S. Postal Service and now I am working as a civil service employee for the Defense Department. Am I able to combine these together to put toward retirement? If so, would I need to make a deposit of 3 percent of my basic pay? Which basic pay do I use ( military and postal)? I started my civil service job last year at age 51. How many years will I need to work in order to retire? And if I work longer within the Defense Department, does this allow me to receive a higher monthly retirement income? Does my basic Thrift Savings Plan contribute toward my retirement income as well?

A: If retirement deductions were taken from your Postal Service salary, that period of employment should already be reflected in your service record. Check your service computation date (SCD) to see if it’s included there. If not, check with you local personnel office to either be sure that it is or to learn why it isn’t. Note: If you took a refund of your retirement contributions when you left the Postal Service, you’d need to redeposit that money, plus accrued interest, to get any credit for it. You can make a deposit to the civilian retirement system to get credit for your active duty military service. If you do it will be used to determine your total years of service and in your annuity computation when you retire. The amount of the deposit would be 3 percent of your basic military pay. No interest would be charged if you completed the deposit within two years. As a FERS employee, you’d have the option of retiring when you reach your minimum retirement age (56) with as few as 10 years of combined service. However, your annuity would be reduced by 5 percent for every year you were under age 62. (You could reduce or eliminate that age penalty by retiring and postponing the receipt of your annuity to a later date.) You could also retire at your MRA with 30 years of service or at age 60 with as few as 20.


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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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