Military buyback


Q. After serving 15 years of active duty with the Army I ETS’d to pursue a federal position (FERS) and continued my military career as a reservist. I’ve bought back the 15 years. I was involuntarily mobilized and attained enough active duty to retire under the sanctuary program. What happens to the 15 years that was already bought back as a reservist prior to retirement?

A. If you retired from the Reserve, that will have no effect on your FERS retirement. You’ll get full credit for the time for which you already made a deposit. If you want to get credit for the time when you were recalled to active duty, you’ll need to make a deposit for that period of service, too. In no case will that have any effect on your reserve retired pay. On the other hand, if you retired from active duty and are entitled to military retired pay, you’d have to waive that retired pay to get credit for any of the bought-back service.


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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. In this person’s case, if they potentially qualified for both a reserve retirement and an active duty retirement, could they take the active duty retirement and then waive the active duty retirement and “switch” to the reserve retirement when they qualify by age so that they could buy the YOS with FERS? 10 U.S. Code § 12731(4) states that to be eligible for reserve pay the person must: “not [be] entitled, under any other provision of law, to retired pay from an armed force or retainer pay as a member of the Fleet Reserve or the Fleet Marine Corps Reserve.” Could a person take the active duty retirement for several years and then waive the active duty retirement and take the reserve retirement in order to buy those years?

    • Your question falls outside the boundaries of this forum. If anyone with knowledge of the ins and outs of reserve or active duty retirement wants to take a crack at it, be my guest.

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