Military buyback benefits


Q. What are the benefits of buying military service time toward civil service? I have 14 years of military service and two years of civil service and am trying to figure out if it is beneficial to buy military time or not. What is the best way to figure this out?

A. If you make a deposit to the civilian retirement system for your period of active-duty service, you’d get credit for it in determining your total years of civilian service and have it used in you annuity computation when you retire. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t get any retirement credit for that time.

You can figure out what the benefit would be by using the following formula: .01 x your highest three consecutive years of average basic pay x all years and full months of service. Simply stated, your 14 years of service would increase your annuity by 14 percent.

To find out what it would cost you to obtain that benefit, complete OPM Form RI 20-97, Estimated Earnings During Military Service, and send it to your military finance center with a copy of your DD 214. The finance center will let you know what your estimated earnings were. Take that information to your payroll office with a DD 214 and a copy of Standard Form 3108, Application to Make service credit payment. Officials there will tell you how much you owe, including interest. Then you can make up your mind.

Keep in mind that the longer you wait, the greater the interest will be.

Note: You can download copies of the RI 20-97 and Standard Form 3108 at; click on Forms.


About Author

Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to


  1. I retired in 2006 did not buy back 3 years military service now in 2018 have worked enough time to get social security check can I apply without penalty of my postal service retirement check

    • Applying for a Social Security benefit would have no affect on your annuity. However, since you were covered by CSRS, a retirement system where you didn’t pay Social Security taxes and have fewer that 30 years of substantial earnings under Social Security, your Social Security benefit will be subject to the windfall elimination provision. The WEP will reduce but not eliminate that benefit.

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