Military buyback


Q. I was honorably discharged after nine years of active military service (1988 through 1997).  Upon separation, I received a voluntary separation under the provisions of the Special Separation Benefit.  Through this program, I received a lump-sum payment of $38,000 in 1997.  I believe this is considered retirement pay.  I have just received an employment offer for a GS position.  Is it possible for me to repay my SSB separation benefit and the deposit amount for my military pay to receive creditable military service time in the Federal Civilian Service?   Under FERS, I believe I am required to repay 3 percent of my military pay for creditable service purposes.  But is it possible to also repay the $38,000 lump sum?

A. If you come to work for the government, you won’t have to repay the SSB. However, as you noted, you would have to deposit an amount equal to 3 percent of your base pay while on active duty to get credit for that time. If you deposit that amount within two years, no interest would be charged.


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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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