Military and federal service and retirement


Q. I served four years in the Navy and four years in the Army consecutively, and two tours in Vietnam in the Navy. In mid- to late 1987, I began working at the Federal Bureau of Prisons under FERS as a correctional officer.

I worked for 11-plus years in the prison system and left. I cashed out my TSP. I am 59.

With nearly 20 years of service, if I were to return to federal employment and work for several more years, would I qualify for retirement and a federal pension?

A. Yes. If you didn’t take a refund of your contributions when you left, you’d get credit for that period of service. If you did, you’d have to redeposit that money, plus accrued interest, to get credit for it.

You didn’t mention whether you had made a deposit to get credit for your periods of active-duty service. If you did, those years would be included in determining your total years of service and in your annuity computation. If you didn’t, they wouldn’t. You could get credit for them by making a deposit to the retirement system, plus accrued interest.


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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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