Military service, buyback and retirement money


Q. I served five years and six months active duty in the Air Force from January 1989 to July 1994. In 1996, I joined the Air National Guard. I am in the Air Guard and have 24 years of service with eight years’ active-duty time. In 1999, I became a full-time federal law enforcement officer. In seven years, I will be 50 and have 21 years’ covered federal law enforcement. If I buy back my military time to get additional federal retirement, will I still be able to receive my military retirement at 60? Or am I better off not buying back my active-duty time? Also, how does the supplemental Social Security payment factor in until I am eligible to receive full Social Security?

A. Receiving reserve retired pay would have no affect on your FERS annuity. However, to get civilian credit for service for which you were receiving military retired pay, you’d have to make a deposit for that time and waive that benefit when you retire.

Any years of service above the 20 needed to qualify for law enforcement retirement — whether actual or active-duty service for which you’ve made a deposit — will be computed using the standard formula, not the enhanced one used for your covered service. The special retirement supplement will be based solely on your years of actual FERS service. It won’t include any military service for which you’ve made a deposit.


About Author

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


    • Apparently, whoever edited my answer before it was posted created some confusion. The original answer I’ve just posted on the site should be much clearer.

    • Bob Branchfield on

      I’m still confused as well!! I was told I would have to give up my military retirement. I did 5 1/2 years active duty, then 27 years of reserves and retired in 2010 with 33 years of service. I am looking forward to receiving my military retirement in Nov this year, but probably will retire from civil service next year. I bought back those 5.5 years…not really sure how this is going to work now!!

      • Employees who are receiving military retired pay must make a deposit and waive that pay if they want to get credit for that time in their annuity computation. Employees who are receiving reserve retired pay don’t need to do either. They only need to make a deposit for any active duty time if they want to get credit in their annuity computation.

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