Retirement buyback


Q. I left the government in 1984 (after eight years of service) and cashed out my retirement. I then came back in 1985, as a term employee with no retirement, until 1989 when I obtained a permanent position. Thinking I would only be with the government several more years I converted from CSRS Offset to FERS for the TSP matching. Ten years later, I made a deposit (based on OPM calculations) to buy into CSRS for the time I was a term employee and have those years count toward my years in service. I was advised at the time, not to redeposit the previous CSRS money plus interest, as the reduction in my CSRS annuity wouldn’t, on a present value basis, offset paying back the principal and interest. My benefits office is calculating my retirement as 12 years CSRS (to 1989) and now 22 years FERS. Does this sound right?

Is there any way to get my FICA back for the four years that I paid into Social Security that I assume are now covered under CSRS after the buyback?

What are your thoughts about a CSRS redeposit versus reduction in annuity for my original eight years (Probably about $11,000 principal and $50,000 interest right now), if I retire at 59?

A. 1. You will get credit for all those CSRS years in determining your eligibility to retire. However, only the years for which you made a deposit will be included when calculating the CSRS component in your annuity. 2) No, you can’t get a refund of your FICA deductions. 3) You’ll have to do the math to find out which makes better sense, a redeposit or the reduction in the CSRS portion of your annuity.


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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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