Can military time count as creditable service?


Q. My question is regarding federal pensions. I know you must complete five years of federal service to be vested in the federal government’s pension program, and three years to be vested in the Thrift Savings Plan. According to the Federal Employees Retirement System handbook, military years bought back are treated as creditable years of civilian service, and therefore would count toward retirement. Does that mean if you only had three years of federal service and bought back seven years of military time, you would have 10 years of creditable service? If I leave the federal government after this year, prior to serving five actual years of civilian employment, am I already vested for the pension (reduced)? I have already bought back my military time.

A. To be vested, you must have five years of actual FERS service. Active-duty service for which you’ve made a deposit cannot be used to meet that requirement.


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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


  1. i retired from the u.s. navy after 20 years active duty and currently receiving retirement pay. Now, i accumulated 17 years of U.S. Postal Service on August 31, 2015. Am I eligible to retire from the U.S. Postal Service since i have 20years military service plus 17 years USPS that gives me more than 30 years of federal service…even though i understand my pay would only be computed based on the 17 years of USPS service because i did not buy back the 20 years of military service. I will be 60 years of age come February 2016 and i shooting for April 1, 2016 as the effective retirement from the USPS. Am i eligible even if i did not buy back the military service?

    • Yes, you’d be eligible to retire. However, it would be under the MRA+10 provision. As a result, your annuity would be reduced by 5 percent for every year you were under age 62. It would make better financial sense for you to work three more years, when you could receive an unreduced annuity.

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