Q: I left the Postal Service in 1999 to go to Arizona and received the refund then, and was reinstated in 2001. I’m 48 and in FERS. I bought back my military time already. I’m making biweekly payments to buy back the 13 years I lost when I left Rockford, Ill., in 1999. If the Postal Service offers a VERA, would I be eligible and given the opportunity to pay the balance due to buy back my time? Or do I need to make a full payment now to get the credit and be eligible if the VERA happens?

A: Unless you completed the deposit, you’d get no credit for that period of service for which you took a refund. However, even if you did make the deposit, your numbers may not add up. The early retirement rules would allow you to retire if you were at least 50 and had at least 20 years of service. Even though you would have at least 20 years, you wouldn’t be age 50. The Postal Service would also allow you to retire at any age if you had 25 years of service. It appears that you only have 24 years of service. However, if it turns out that you’ll have 25 years when the early retirement window opens, and you had completed your deposit, you could retire.


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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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