Military buyback


Q. I recently got hired at the Veterans Affairs hospital. I am retired from the Army with 70 percent disability.  Served 21 years with the Army — most of the time was active reserves; was also deployed during that time. I really need someone to explain this buyback program to me.

A. To get credit for any active-duty service in the armed forces, you would need to make a deposit to the civilian retirement system. For FERS employees, the deposit equals 3 percent of the basic military pay you received (not including allowances and differentials) for all periods of service between 1957 and 1998. It’s 3.25 percent for 1999 and 3.4 percent for 2000.

To make the deposit, start by completing form RI 20-97, Estimated Earnings During Military Service, and mail it to the finance center for your branch of service along with a copy of your DD Form(s) 214, Report of Transfer or Discharge. When they write back, take that letter and copy of your DD Form(s) 214 and Standard Form 3108, Application to Make Deposit or Redeposit, to your local payroll office. They’ll compute the amount you owe and arrange a schedule of payments. Note: If you are or will be receiving military retired pay, you’ll have to waive that pay when you retire. If you are or will be receiving reserve retired pay, you won’t.

FYI: You can download copies of RI 20-97 and SF 3108 from, click on Forms.


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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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