Service computation date and temporary position


Q. I was originally hired in a temporary position by the federal government. I have heard that temporary time doesn’t count toward retirement. However, on my leave and earnings statement, the service computation date is from the time of hire into the government system. Does my time toward retirement count from my service computation date, or does it begin when I transferred into a nontemporary position?

A. Periods of nondeduction service performed on or after Jan. 1, 1989, aren’t creditable for retirement purposes. So if no retirement deductions were taken from your pay while you were in a temporary position, your service computation date for retirement would be the position in which deductions were taken.


About Author

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


  1. Can you buy back that time? I was also hired on for 15 months into a temporary position, before we were able to convert it into a permanent position, and never knew that time did not count towards retirement.

  2. I worked for the National Park Service as a seasonal/summer employee while in college in 1981 and 1982. Would I be able to buy back that time? Would those six months count as creditable service – and count toward the required 5 years of civilian service needed to be able to retire? Thanks

    • It all depends. To get a definitive answer, you’ll need to check with your personnel office. If they are uncertain, they can check with OPM.

  3. I worked as a temporary census employee in 2000 for approximately 6 weeks. Now that I’m a regular postal employee since 2015 does that time count? Can I purchase that time back? I know it’s not much but every bit counts.

  4. I have two years in my federal career that I held a temp position. My question is, can I request that time to count as career time, if the agency is going through a RIF. I believe I read somewhere that if an agency is having financial issues and are requesting early retirement from employees, they will consider converting that ‘temp” time as career time but that has to be submitted by the agency leadership and approved by OPM. Is this true, if it is, where can I look up this information.

  5. I worked for the US Army in Panama from 1986 through 1989. The position was a type of training program where I was hired as a GS-5, then promoted to GS-7 after one year and to GS-9 after the second year. I am currently employed by the VA and have 17 years of federal service. I would really like to be able to add those three years to make it 20 so I could retire sooner. Is this possible? If so, would OPM have that information?

    • If retirement deductions were taken from your pay, you would already be entitled to credit for that service. If retirement deductions weren’t taken from your pay, you can make a deposit to get credit for any period of service that occurred before January 1, 1989. As a rule, periods of non-deduction service after January 1, 1989 aren’t creditable nor can a deposit be made for that time. If you don’t know if retirement deductions were taken from you pay, you cam get a copy of your records from the National Personnel Records Center. Go to, click on CIVILIAN PERSONNEL RECORDS, and follow the instructions.

  6. Hiya…I work for the County of Los Angeles Animal Control under a classification with was a temporary position for 3 years. Can it be possible to purchase the 3 years back through my ICMA under service credit time. I am planning to retire in another 2 to 3 years…

    • No it isn’t possible. Federal employees can’t make a deposit to get credit for employment in a non-federal position.

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