Military buyback and annuity computation


Q. I receive military retirement pay for 21 years of service in the Air Force. I started working a job as a federal civilian employee (GS-9, Step 1) two months ago. I have not bought back my military time yet. I am 41. If I continue to work as a federal civilian for another 20 years and buy back my military service, it would give me 40 years. Does my combined retirement/annuity add up to more than if I wouldn’t buy back my military time, keeping my separate military retirement check and my separate FERS annuity check?

A. To figure that out, you’d need to know the amount of your military retired pay and what your FERS annuity would be, with and without making a deposit. Only you know the former. You can estimate the latter using this formula: .01 x your highest three consecutive years of average basic pay x your years of service (either pure FERS or a combination of FERS and active-duty military service for which you’ve made a deposit). Since you’ve just started working for the government, you’ll have to guess what your high-3 would be when you reach retirement age.


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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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