Deferred retirement


Q. I am a military reservist with more than 20 reserve and 17 active years. I was hired into GS about six months ago. I have calculated my military buyback and am prepared to buy it back (roughly $18,000). My breakeven is about 17 months after I retire at age 62 for the $18,000. So it is definitely worth it.

I am considering going back to the private sector, where I should make at a minimum 1½ to two times what I make as a GS employee (I work in the IT field). I have crunched the numbers and the difference at age 62 between retiring with a 17-year deferred GS retirement vs. working as GS until age 62 and getting a 31-year retirement doesn’t even come close to the income that I am missing out on in the civilian sector.

If I put the salary difference in the bank and just drew the difference between the two retirements out every month after 62, I would have to live to be 100 to break even.

1. Is there a minimum time you must be in a GS position to receive a deferred retirement at age 62, or does the 17-year buyback cover me for the five-year minimum requirement?

2. If I were to resign with less than one year of actual GS service, but 17+ with the buyback, how do they calculate the high-3?

A. 1. You must have five years of full-time civilian service to be vested in the retirement system.

2. Since active duty for which you’ve made a deposit doesn’t count toward meeting the five-year requirement, your question is moot. Even if you had five years of service, it wouldn’t count. Only pay received as a civilian employee of the federal government is used in the computation of a high-3.


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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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