Q. At age 53, I’m considering my first federal career. My DD214’s add up to more than seven years of active-duty service, (three years of post-9/11 active duty). I do not want to work 20 years to obtain a federal retirement so am considering buying federal seniority with my active-duty time. Can I buy the seven years and retire in 13 years? Is 20 years the minimum for federal retirement? What if I work for only 10 years? Is there any retirement given the fact I’ll be 63 or 65 at 12 years? If I buy seniority, will this effect my military retirement pay at 60 or will my military retirement pay be completely separate and unaffected from the federal service annuity? If I enter federal GS system, is it only the DD214 time that I can buy into for federal seniority? .
A: As a Federal Employees Retirement System employee, the criteria for retirement from the federal service are simple: age 62 with five years, age 60 with 20, at your minimum retirement age (in your case 56) with 30, or at your MRA with at least 10 but fewer than 30. In the latter case, your annuity would be reduced by 5 percent for every year you were under age 62 when you retired (5/12 per month). Based on you plan to make a deposit for seven years of active-duty service and work as a FERS employee until you are eligible to retire, you could do that on an unreduced annuity at age 60, when you’d have 14 years of service, or at 66, when you’d have 20. FYI, making a deposit for your active- duty service would have no effect on any military benefits to which you’d be entitled, including reserve retired pay.