Military buyback


Q. 1. If I have previously “bought back” active-duty time, believing I would continue in the civil service system, and later qualify for an active-duty retirement utilizing the time bought back plus additional active-duty time accrued to equal 20 years, will the buyback amount I paid be refunded to me?

2. If I am later eligible to retire from federal employment based on total years in civil service (say, 20 years), am I required at that time to waive my military pension to have my military and civilian time recomputed to receive the combined total federal service time toward my final [civilian]pension? It would seem that I would lose money in these circumstances as the FERS civil service computation is but a fraction (1 percent) of final base pay (average of highest three years), vice the military computation of 50 percent of average high three years of base pay. Is one allowed to draw both of these pays — military active duty retirement and civil service FERS retirement?

A. There are only two circumstances under which you could receive a refund of the deposit you made. First, if you resign from the government and ask for a refund of all your retirement contributions. Second, if you retire from the government, are required to waive your military retire pay to get credit for that time, and decide not to do that.

If you receive military retired pay, the only way you’d be allowed to continue receiving it is if that pay was awarded on account of a service-connected disability either incurred in combat with an enemy of the United States or caused by an instrumentality of war and incurred in the line of duty during a period of war. On the other hand, if you are receiving reserve retired pay, you may receive both it and your civilian annuity.


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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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