Military time and creditable service


Q. I have been a FERS GS employee since March 2007. However, I have been on active duty with the National Guard for about the last two years, much of that time deployed to the desert in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. I was wondering if my last two years (assuming I buy them back) will qualify me for the five years of creditable service I need to qualify for retirement in the future. I had been considering departing the federal job when I come back from active duty to pursue nonfederal employment but would like to ensure I at least reach the five years. I had previously bought back military time (12 years) served before I became a government employee.

A. You’d need to have five years of actual FERS service to be vested in the retirement system. Deposits you made to get credit for active-duty service wouldn’t count toward the five-year requirement. Therefore, if you left with fewer than five years of actual service, you wouldn’t qualify for a retirement benefit at a later date.


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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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