Military retired pay, FERS, VA disability


Q. I retired from the military with a 40-percent VA disability. I am now a government employee under FERS. If I buy back my military time and then retire under FERS, will I still receive my VA disability payments and, if so, will the VA payments be deducted from my FERS retirement in the same way as they are deducted from my military retirement today?

A. While you would have to waive your military retired pay when you retire from your civilian position, you wouldn’t have to waive your VA disability payments. They would have no affect on your FERS annuity.


About Author

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


  1. I too fall into this category, with the 40% disability and military retirement deduction. Is is beneficial to just cash in military time. Its got to be more than what I’m getting from my military retirement. I’m a government employee with 9 years and 21 years active duty.

  2. I recently (2 months ago) retired from the VA. I paid for a “military buyback” of 14 years. I spent slightly over 6 years in the VA (FERS) system. I completed my “out processing” for retirement and they set me up for an annuity (small but there) and told me my MHP insurance would be continued into retirement. Yesterday I got a letter from OPM saying I only had insurance continuity since JAN 1 2014. thus I didn’t meet the requirement for 5 yrs continuity. I was shocked that they declined my coverage. I have one question: Does my 14 years active military insurance weigh in on this. I thought I’d give this a shot out there.

    • Tim, or Reg, I am interested in this topic because I am going to separate from service with 15 years, buy back my military time and have a FERS retirement. But I am confused, if you spent 6 years in the Federal system, how did you not have 5 years of continuity for insurance purposes? Were there reasons for why your continuity start date did not match up with your VA employment start date? Appreciate any info.

  3. I have a 60% disability compensation rating and have almost 4 years of military service. I am now a FERS employee and considering buying back my military time. I was told by someone that if I did so, my VA disability would be affected when I start receiving a FERS annuity. Based on your comments above, I would like to confirm that this would not be true in my case. Thanks for any insight you can provide.

  4. Hello, I was rated 90% and 100% p&t unemployable in December 2017. Are my chances good that I will receive Opm retirement based on my unemployable rating? I have a total of 27 yrs total federal service. I have been off work two years.

    • What do you mean when you say that you’ve “been off work”? Have you been on annual leave, sick leave, leave without pay?

  5. Hello Sir,

    I am medically retired and receive VA Disability check. I am currently 80% (50% combat related). I have 14 years TIS. If i do a buy back and retire will my VA disability be affected?

    • First, are you medically retired from the armed services? If so, are you receiving military retire pay? Second, what does TIS mean?

  6. Good afternoon, I am drawing military retired pay for 21 years and 90% VA disability. I started under FERS last year. Will I be able to draw Military Retired Pay, VA Disability, FERS Retirement and Social Security benefits when I retire at age 62 in 17 years?

  7. Hello Reg,

    Have 16 years AGR/Tile 32 and was medically retired by the Air Force and have a 100 percent VA disability rating, which all is paid via VA, not the Air Force. I now have 11 years civil service, can I buy back any of my military service for civil service retirement?

    • Check with your local personnel office. If they aren’t certain, they can get an opinion from OPM about the creditability of that time.

  8. Mr. Jones,
    Retired from the Navy in 1994 and receive a monthly retirement. Then worked for DOD, but before I retired under FERS in OCT 2018, I bought back my military service time. I’ve already received my first annuity deposit which reflects the buy back. I am also receiving VA disability pay (70%). I see DFAS is still making deposits for my military retirement. Is this correct, I was told one stops receiving Mil retirement when buying back that time?

  9. I retired from the Air Force in 2000, and have been rated by the V.A. with 30% disability only, meaning the disability compensation that I am receiving from the V.A. is offset against my military retired pay. So, in reality, I am not getting an extra dollar (only lower taxes on my retired pay). The $503 monthly V.A. disability pay is deducted against my military retired pay.

    I’ve been a federal employee since 2005 and plan to retire at age 62 (in 3 years), so I can receive my full annuity. Since I bought back my active duty time (20 years, 5 months), how will the 30% disability compensation affect my civil service annuity when I retire from the federal service?

  10. Good evening, my question is, i served active 7 years, medical discharge and now get 80%. i am a fers employee with 22 years and i did buy back my time. when i retire with 30 years, will my FERS retirement be replaced with VA disability check? or will i still get my normal FERS and Va disability?

    Th ak you for your time

  11. I was medically retired from Army in Aug 2017 and started receiving retired pay Nov 2017. At that time I was a National Guard technician. I subsequently applied for Disability retirement from OPM (FERS) under public law 97-253 around Nov 2017 and was approved in June 2018. I recieved a lump sum from OPM in Aug 2018 and monthly interim payments from Sep 2018 to present. I also recieve 100% VA payments.

    I recently inquired to OPM as to when my OPM packet would be finalized and was told that I was missing form SF 3100 I then called DFAS to inquire about the form which I was told they generate. DFAS told me they have no record of civilian retirement processing only military retired pay. She then proceeded to tell me I cannot recieve both I have to send a letter requesting to waive my military retired pay. I did make partial payment on military deposit for FERS retirement but during my disability application process I submitted form 3106 requesting refund.
    Can I not receive both military retired pay and FERS disability if I dont make a deposit for buyback of military time served?
    Also what would be the difference if say I retired from the Army never working for the Federal govt in a civilian capacity before that and I take a job say with the FBI and i work 25 years for them or whatever it takes minimally to earn a retirement not making any buy back for military service, would I not be entitled to both?

    • Unless your military retired 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, you would have to waive your military retired pay and make a deposit to the civilian retirement system to get credit for that time. If you don’t want to do that, you can retain your military retired pay and continue to work in your civilian position until you have the age and service needed to retire from it.

  12. I currently work in a FERS law enforcement positition. I medically retired from the Navy after 15 years. I’m currently 100% VA service connected disabled. I made a deposit for my miltary time and since I’m 100% VA disabled I no longer receive my Navy pension, DFAS stopped it when I became 100%, up from 40%. I have 8 more years until I retire from the Federal Bureau of Prisons with 20 years. I was told that to have my military time go toward FERS I have to waive my Navy retirement check about a year from my BOP retirement. I currently don’t receive a check so I’m not sure if I’m getting the right info. Do I still need to send a letter to the Navy requesting to wave my retirement pay for FERS anyway? Can I do it now instead of waiting 8 years? Thanks

  13. Separated from the VA in Jan 2013 to go back on active duty. Medically retired in April 2017 – some disabilities were a result of my deployment and some were not. I was rated 90% DoD and 100% VA. I collect SSA disability. I am 57 and have over 18 years FERS. I did not return to my VA job or any other work after my medical retirement due to my disabilities. I had paid a partial military deposit years ago. If I apply for my FERS retirement now, understanding that I will take a hit because it is before I’m 62 (and I can’t get a FERS disability retirement because I never went back to work after the military) – will it affect my military retirement pay?

    • We are only qualified to answer questions about federal civilian matters. You’ll have to check with your branch of service.

  14. Currently FERS full time employee with 16 years of service.
    Retired from USMC in 2000 with 20 years of active duty.
    Currently 60% VA disabled CRDP(non-combat related)
    Recently paid $17,000 to buy back(military deposit) my 20 years of active duty.
    Will continue to receive my military retirement until I decide to combine my retirements, or I can decide not to combine and get my deposit $17,000 back
    60 days before retiring from FERS I have to notify DFAS that I want to combine my FERS and military retirement, at that time I will no longer get a DFAS DoD retirement I will get a FERS retirement for 36 years of service.
    I have verified that I will keep all military retirement benefits.
    A couple of reasons for doing this:
    1. Am eligible for FERS Social Security Supplement approx. $700 a month until I turn 62 and start drawing social security retirement.
    2. Did not elect Survivor benefit when I retired from USMC, can now elect Survivor Benefit and spouse would receive 50% of my combined retirement.
    Pay is about the same if I elect not to combine vs combining them except if I combine I am eligible for the FERS Social Security Supplement and have the option for the Survivor Benefit.

    Question: How does it affect my CRDP if I combine them? I read I would not be eligible for CRDP, does that mean I would lose my monthly 60% VA disability?

    • Since this is a site for civilian employee and retiree benefits, I’m not able to answer your question. You’ll have to check with the VA.

    • Brian, I am in the same situation. I have not been able to find an answer on this. If you’ve received and answers would you mind sharing?

      • Brian, Would you mind sharing the outcome? I retired with 20 years military service, worked 12 years as a fed, I did pay a military deposit while employed as a fed. I had to leave fed service for medical reasons at age 52. I know I am not eligible for social security offset. My main question is if you waive your military retirement is your VA disability effected? I turn 56 soon with combined service of almost 33 years. Thanks

  15. I retired from the Navy Reserve with 39 years (9 were AD) and received a regular retirement check (over 60 years). I have a 60% service connected disability and receive VA disability pay. I am in FERs and will soon retire with 20 years service (bought back 9 years of AD). Will I be allowed to keep my military retirement pay, disability pay and FERS retirement pay? Also, will there be any impact to my full SSN annuity when I turn 66 and 10 months?

    • Yes, you’ll be able to receive reserve retired pay and your FERS annuity. Your Social Security benefit will be based on what you earned, a formula, and the age at which you apply for that benefit. While I have no direct knowledge about how your disability pay will be treated, others in a similar situation have told me that they continued to receive it.

      • Mr. Jones,

        Sorry if this has been already covered, but my situation is similar, without the disability pay…

        Are you saying that you can collect retired reserve/guard pay at age 60, FERS at MRA with 30+ years and Social Security as well?

        If so, is my retired pay from reserve/guard retirement and FERS considered earnings for Social Security offset/reduction? Or, am I confusing the terms and impact? Will I still receive full Social Security payments based on age and earnings when I apply?

          • Mr. Jones,

            You have been very helpful…I wish every HR person knew what you know.j

            Update: I am now 100% disabled with the VA and receiving payment from them… and I am retiring from the ANG in 8 months…does my VA pay in any way impact my collecting FERS next year with 30+ years, ANG/Reserve pay at age 60, and Social Security payments when I choose to file for them? Should I be able to collect all four payments?

            Thanks in advance.

          • Sorry….Importantly, I bought back about 10 years of active duty time for FERS credit. I am not receiving an active duty retirement…only a reserve retirement when I turn 60…some of the subsequent posts have confused me.

          • You will be entitled to your full FERS annuity, which includes any periods of active duty service for which you made a deposit, and your un-reduced reserve retired pay.

      • As far as the VA rating. Any rating at 50% or higher, you will continue to get separate check from both the VA and SSA, in addition to your Military retirement.

  16. Reg,
    If I receive a small Service Connected Disability payment for combat duty but did not retire from Army, do I have to even fill out the Schedule B of the FERS Retirement Application? Or do I have to report it, but show that it will not be forefeited?
    Also – do you have any link to the law/handbook that addresses this?
    Thanks for all your help!

  17. I will retire October 31st , 57yrs old , 32yrs FERs want to know if I received FERs supplement will my VA compensation at 90% be subject to the earnings test.

  18. Medically retired from the Army with 13 years time in service. I was forced to waive retirement pay in favor of VA disability pay. Currently a DOD employee on FERS. The only benefit I receive from being retired is an ID and medical insurance. What do I lose if I buy back my military time?

  19. Reg Jones, I work in the CPO office at my base (few months now) and everyone in my office is telling me I will have to forfeit my VA disability of 100% if I buy my 14 years of active service. From everything I read on here in the comments my VS disability will not be affected. My office doesn’t believe me. Can you tell me how to start the process of buying my time back? is there anything special I need since I and VA disabled (retired)

    • Everyone in your office is wrong. Making a deposit to get credit for your active duty service will have no affect on your VA disability benefit. A few days from now you’ll be able to get answers to your other questions at Just click on my icon.

      • I’m retired from the AF (20 years) I am 70% VA disabled, currently working as a civilian Airforce FERs employee and have degraded health conditions that are forcing me to seek retirement disability after 13 years in this position. I do receive AF retired pay and VA disability money. if I am approved for retirement disability will it affect my VA or AF retirement pay? I’m 59 years old. What about after the age of 62?

        • If you are approved for disability retirement, you would not have to waive your VA or AF retirement benefits. Your annuity would be based solely on the FERS disability formula. At age 62 your annuity would be recomputed as if you had worked to age 62.

  20. I am confused as well, different subject. I have 29 years of government service @ 20 years ago I bought back my military time from the USCG (4 yrs). I am a 40% disabled Vet. I receive a small stipend from the USCG (taxable)as well as the remaining from the VA. On my DD214 it states that I was honorably discharged/ retired. When I submitted my paperwork for retirement from the GOV (FERS), I always thought that my 4 years that i bought back counted towards my retirement. The HR specialist stated that I would have to forego my disability pension if I wanted to count my buy back military time. He further stated that this was due to the fact that on my DD214 it stated that I was retired? Does this make any kind of sense to anyone? I am 57 years old with 29 years of GOV service

  21. I was medically retired from the Navy in 1993 with a 40% disability rating. I do not receive any retirement pay from the Navy, but have a 100% service connected disability through the VA and am compensated for that. I am preparing to retire (FERS) from the NPS in the spring of 2021 and have paid for 10 years of military service. Will my disability compensation from the VA be affected, since I was medically retired from the Navy? Do I need to complete Schedule B even though I receive no military retirement pay, only VA disability compensation?

    Thank You!

    • Yes, you will have to complete Part B; however, you’ll need to attach an explanation of the fact that you are only receiving VA disability compensation.

  22. Lesli Griffin on

    I took voluntary retired as a FER employee with 37 years . I bought back my military time
    I am currently receiving VA disability at 90 percent
    I am 56 years old my question is if I apply for SSDI with that effect my FERs annuity

  23. Brandon Eberhardt on

    I am a current Federal employee of 1.5 years, I was medically retired from the Air Force after 16.5 years. I was retired at 70% from the Air Force, but 100% for the VA. I do not receive any payments from the Air Force as I do not qualify for Concurrent Retirement and Disability Pay (CRDP). I should have no interruption of my VA disability pay if I buy back my 16.5 years correct?

      • Mr Jones, I read this current situation and mine is similar. What would be my steps or proper form to begin this process of selling back my military time?


        I am a current Federal employee of 1.5 years, I was medically retired from the Air Force after 16.5 years. I was retired at 70% from the Air Force, but 100% for the VA. I do not receive any payments from the Air Force as I do not qualify for Concurrent Retirement and Disability Pay (CRDP). I should have no interruption of my VA disability pay if I buy back my 16.5 years correct?

  24. I am receiving 100% VA disability, I am also retiree for 25 years. I currently work in federal govt for 7 years. I can no longer hold my federal job due to my disability. Will I be able to get ssi when I appy for disability retirement at federal?

    • If you are referring to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you would have to apply for that benefit. Since the criteria are much stricter than they are for civil service disability retirement, you might or might not qualify for that benefit.

  25. Hello.

    Is CRDP considered “disability pay” or “retired pay” when combining military and civil service time? Does receipt of CRDP have to be waived? Also, might it be considered disability pay if I qualify for 50% CRSC but don’t receive it? (due to combat and instrumentality of war) I qualify for MRA +10 so I don’t need to combine but if I do, I go out with 39 years civil service time. 57 yrs old, 18 years civil service, 21 years military.

    • CRDP (Concurrent Receipt of Disability and Pension) is both retirement and disability. You don’t receive CRSC (Combat Related Special Compensation) because you receive a retirement from your branch of service. CRSC was created to fill the gap created for medical retirees that haven’t served the minimum of 20 years to be eligible to receive CRDP. You should be able to receive all 3 income sources, mil retirement, VA disability, and civil service retirement, someone please correct me if I’m wrong.

  26. Hi Reg,
    I’m currently 61 yrs old. I retired from the active Air Force in 2005 after 27.5 years and now drawing retirement pay. I also receive VA disability at 70% rating (CRDP), since 2005. I started working civil service for DOD in 2007 and plan to retire in 2024 at age 65 , with 17+ yrs under FERS for retirement. I will then apply for social security as well.

    Some articles I have read about multiple government retirement streams have caused me concern. I just want to be sure that I can receive all four streams of government retirement income (mil ret, VA, FERS, SSA) without any offset, giving up, or combining any retirement income stream? If it’s possible, is there anything special I need to remember to do to ensure I do not cause problems with any income stream?

    Many thanks in advance, Appreciate your time.

    Kindest Regards, Tim

    • Hello Mr. Jones,

      I retired from the USAF in 2004 with 20 years and 4 months of service. I began working as DOD civilian in the FERS program in October 2011, at which time I bought back (military deposit) my military time.

      My question: I signed up and have been paying for the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) since I retired from the USAF in 2004. I would like to know, when I retire from FERS and combine both my USAF & FERS time together for retirement (30 plus years), will I be able to continue to pay for my SBP from the USAF/DFAS? I’ve paid over half of the required payments (will continue to pay til I’m 70) and do not want to stop this payment and lose out on this benefit and all the funds I’ve paid into this program/insurance.

      Since this payment currently is automatically reduced from my retired military pay, how will that payment continue once I combine both retirements?

      Thank you,

      • Because you will have to waive your military retired pay when you retire from your civilian position, the question is: can you can make direct payments toward your Survivor benefit Plan from your civilian annuity. While there are some deductions that can be taken from your annuity payments,USAF/DFAS isn’t on OPM’s list. However, you can check with OPM to find out if that can be done. Just send you inquiry to

  27. I retired in 2012 from the USAF and receive retirement pay for 23yrs. I am 100% VA service connected (CRDP). I have been offered a Civilian position under the FERS retirement plan. I am not sure whether I should combine my retirement or keep them separate. From what I have read here, some are keeping their pay separate and will receive all 4 (mil retirement, va, fers, ssi). I am 50 now and plan on retiring between 60-62. Will I receive all four? What are the drawbacks from not combining my two retirements (if I get a fers retirement)? If I combine, when do I have to do this? Shortly before my retirement from civil service?


    • Whether to combine you military and civilian service is a good idea depends on which produces the greater income at retirement. You’ll have to run the numbers to find that out. If you do decide to combine them, you can wait until you are ready to retire from your civilian job. Note: waiving your military retired pay would have no affect on any other benefits to which you are entitled.

  28. Sir, I was medically retired in 2012 after 19 years of service with 60 percent VA disability benefits. And now work at the VA for 5 years. If I do a buy back now after 8 years of retirement pay. Will the retirement portion need repaid? Would I be able to keep my ID card also?

    • To get credit for that period of active duty service, you will have to make a deposit to the civilian retirement system and, at retirement, waive your military retired pay. You won’t have to repay any military retired pay that you received before waiving it.

  29. This site is so helpful. I was active duty and injured and received 10% VA and transferred to reserves with the existing disability rating and entered into Fed Civ service at the same time. While in the reserves while on orders in the line of duty I was injured twice more and my VA bumped up to 60% and I did buy back my previous AD time before being injured again but ultimately had to apply and received my FERS disability retirement. Ive been waiting for 5 years for the AF Reserves to med board me and either give me a medical retirement or administrative discharge? If I am granted a reserve military disability retirement for medical reason will I be able to keep it along with my VA and FERs disability retirement annuity payments or am I fighting for my reserve disability retirement and and pay that will be taken away anyway? Also since its been five years and I’m in a wheelchair and the AF still hasn’t boarded or separated me are their any attorneys firms or advocates you can refer me to for help? Thanks in advance.

    • I’m only qualified to answer one of your questions. By law, the total of your Social Security disability (SSDI) and OWCP benefits cannot exceed 80 percent of your average current earnings (ACE). The ACE is initially calculated by taking your FICA-covered earnings from the highest year of the year you became disabled and the 5 previous years. That figure is divided by 12 rounded down to the dollar and multiplied by 80 percent. If your OWCP payments are higher than that, you wouldn’t be eligible for any SSDI payments. If less than that, you’d receive only the amount of SSDI that would bring your total payments up to 80 percent.

  30. Sir / ALCON: My situation needing clarification and statutory guidance (reference):

    – Current Fed Worker (one year)
    – Prior Mil service for 11 years
    – Bough back military service time (11 years)
    – Completed reserve time for three years
    – Returned to active duty for 16,5 years
    – Retired from AD w/29.5 yrs of service / 26.5 Active Duty

    Q. My HR Specialist thinks that I should had not been able to retire from Active Duty using the 11 years of service, since I had previously used the buy back option. According to her, the time belongs to the civilian FERS, not the military. IS this correct?

    Q. I don’t plan to waive my military retirement, and will not use the already bought back time towards any federal civilian retirement (FERS) in the future. I understand I cannot use the time for both, unless one is waived. Do I need to send a letter anywhere to waive the time already bought (11 years)?

    Would anyone please provide me some guidance and reference material. I have looked thru OPM and other websites, to no avail.

    • Your HR is mistaken. Making a deposit to get credit for your active duty service would have no affect on your entitlement to have those years used in the computation of your military retirement. However, since you will be retiring from active duty, you would have to waive your military retired pay to get credit for that time in your civilian annuity computation. If you didn’t waive your military retired pay, you would be entitled to a refund of the time you bought back, plus accrued interest.

    • This may or may not help with the “I’m 90% 100% unemployable VA”, I have heard a few people make this confusing comment. The VA will rate you at a disability rate but say the disability is great enough to make you unempolyable (UI) but not enough to make you 100% permanent and total (P&T). The rater assigns the ratee’s unemployability separately from their rated disability. There are several different rationales for this rating but the most common seems to be not considered the rating not being permanent but enough to barr the veteran from pursuing gainful employment. I could be wrong, and willing to hear some constructive feedback.

  31. If I am medically retired after 5 years from the USCG, but have a VA offset due to a VA rating. Would I only lose the medical retirement that isn’t offset by the VA if I buy back my time and waive my retirement from the military? Thanks in advance.

  32. Sir, I was medically retired from AD Air Force in 2014 with 17 years of service. I do not recieve a pension due to my VA disability being a higher percentage. I am currently working as a GS employee with the Navy, am I able to sell that 17 years towards a FERS retirement? If so, would I lose my VA compensation? Thank you

    • Yes, you can make a deposit to get credit for your active duty service. Although you are not receiving military retired pay, you are entitled to it; therefore you would have to officially waive that pay when you retire. Doing so would have no affect on your VA disability benefit.

  33. Situation: I am a medically retired Army veteran with 15 years 9 months active duty time. I am VA-rated as 100% totally and permanently disabled. I now have 15 years civil service time as a Department of the Army employee. I will be transferring to a different agency (USCIS under Department of Homeland Security) in approximately six months. From my research, that agency does not have a Military Buy Back Program. With that background provided, here is the question: So long as I have completed my military buy back and have my SCD adjusted while still employed by the Department of the Army, will my SCD remain adjusted accordingly if I move to another agency (USCIS under DHS) that does not have a Military Buy Back Program? I would assume so since I would still be in the civil service as a GS employee at USCIS under DHS, but wanted to get feedback to ensure I do not lose my military buy back time if I leave the agency under which I bought back my time. Please advise.

    • Because you have made the deposit to get credit for your active duty service, you have locked in that time. It can’t be taken away from you.

  34. I am currently going through the hiring process for a GS position and have a question.

    About me
    20 years 5 months honorable service
    Permanent Medically retired over 20 years
    DD214 states permanet medical retirement
    Retired in 2019, it was found being caused by instrument of War.

    I know about the buying back military time and waiving military retired pay, but there is an exception that states:

    For retirement:
    An employee must waive military retired pay to receive any credit for military service unless the retired pay is awarded based on a service-connected disability 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 as defined by 38 U.S.C. 301, or awarded under 10 U.S.C. chapter 1223 (previously chapter 67).

    5 U.S.C. 6303, 8332 and 8411(c); and the CSRS and FERS Handbook

    So what does this exception mean, do they give credit for military time without having to buy it back and still allow me to draw military retirement while contributing to FERs?

    Or does this mean I can still draw my military retirement and just have to pay for my time to be transferred to FERS?

    • Yes, it does if your “permanent medical retirement” meets the definition you quoted. That determination will be made by the Department of Defense.

  35. I have a somewhat similar situation as the last person. Medically retired from the military, service-connected disability 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. I am also have a 100% VA service connected rating. I also receive Combat Related Special Compensation (as part of concurrent receipt). I recently accepted a GS position and am considering the FERS system. From others whom have posted it seems like I can get my active time credited toward the FERS system. Would FERS retirement payments impact my ability to receive Combat Related Special Compensation?

    • You’ll have to make a deposit to the civilian retirement system to get credit for that time, However, because you have a service-connected disability that meets the requirements of law, you won’t have to waive your military retired pay when you retire. Whether doing that would have any affect on your Combat Related Special Compensation is something only the Department of Defense can answer.

  36. Greetings,

    I have a couple of questions.

    I am a GS 13/10 Special Agent with the the federal government, who just stepped down from a GS 14/7 for a transfer to a new office. I am hitting my 15-years of service next month. My high 3 is 168,500.

    I am rated 100% VA P&T disability ($3,550 per month) since 2016, and was approved for DoD/Military Permanent Disability Retirement List effective June 9, 2021 at 80%. O-4 with 30 years for pay, my estimated military retirement pay will be $6,435.50 per month or $77,166 per year.

    1st question: if I continue to another 5 years until I turn 50 and have 20 years as a federal law enforcement officer, will I be able to keep both my military retired pay and OPM retirement?

    2nd question: Prior to 2010, I paid my military deposit for 6 years and 10 months of active duty for my civil service retirement. Will I get this extra annuity if I retire? My military retirement orders are marked the following:

    Disability is based on injury or disease received in LOO as a direct result of Armed Conflict or caused by an instrumentality of war and incurred in the LOO during a war period as defined by law: NO

    Member of an armed force on 24 Sep 75: NO

    Disability resulted from a combat related injury as defined in 26 USC 104: YES

    Retirement is due to a disability incurred in the line of duty in a combat zone or as a result of performing combat related operations (as implemented by Section 020303b, DoD 7000.14-5, vol. 7a) YES

    3rd question: I was seriously injured last week in a line of duty car accident at work. I am currently out on my 45 days of COP for physical therapy and recuperating. If I was approved for either OPM disability pay for my above medical issues or DOL FECA for my injuries, would I be able to keep both my retired military pay and OPM disability pay or DOL FECA without being reduced?

    Thank you for your guidance!

    • 1st question: Yes, you will be able to keep both benefits with no reduction in either. To see why there won’t be any reduction in your civilian retirement annuity, read the answer to your next question.
      2nd question: Because you have made a deposit for your active duty service, you’ll get credit for that time in the 20 years needed to qualify for the more generous LEO annuity computation. Note: If your active duty service was performed before you became a civilian employee, it won’t be included when determining your years of LEO-covered service. If it interrupted your LEO career, it will be counted because you made a deposit for that time.
      3rd question: If you retired on disability, your annuity would be entitled to an LEO annuity based on your years and full months months of LEO service; any other time would be computed using the standard formula. If you instead accepted worker’s compensation, you’d only receive that amount unless you became eligible for regular retirement and chose that instead of worker’s comp.

  37. My husband now receives 100% VA connected disability. He also is medically retired from the Usps and receives monthly payments. Will the 100% from the VA affect his Usps medical retirement money? Thank you

    • His VA benefit will not affect his disability benefit. He is entitled to both with no reduction in either.

  38. Hello, this chat has been very helpful but wanted to ask my question. I served in the Army for 11 years and was military medical retired at 40% with a VA disabled rating if 100%. Currently, It’s my knowledge that when I was getting out of the service I now get paid by the VA since it was the higher of the two. It was explained to me that both my military pay at 40% and VA 100% provide my paycheck every month. However, the pay comes directly from the VA. Seeing as somewhere they stated I got 40% disabled DOD, If I bought back my 11 years active service time towards FERS retirement, would my overall payments be garnished?

    • To the best of my knowledge, if you make a deposit to get credit for your active duty service, when you retire you’ll be able to receive both your VA disability pay and a civil service annuity with no reduction in either.

  39. Mr. Jones, I retired from the AF in 2001. I then worked as a GS employee for 19 years and I bought back my military time. Then retired from the GS system in June 2020 with 41 years combined service after military time added to OPM calculation. My VA rating was 10% when I retired from the AF active duty. Within the past 18 months my VA rating went to 80% and I am owed approximately $24K in VA back pay. I have asked and asked but can’t get an update or straight answer on who pays my VA back-pay. I have not received any back pay to date and I believe there is confusion between OPM, DFAS and the VA as to who should pay. Do you have an knowledge or insight in this area?

    • OPM has no role in this matter. While I’m not qualified to answer questions involving military matters, I can only assume that since you are “owed approximately $24K in VA back pay,” VA is the agency responsible for paying you that money.

  40. Mr. Jones, here is another situation to consider that I would like to know the direction that I should take as well. I was in the Army National Guard and was medically retired last year while on a set of Title 10 Active Duty orders due to a condition that occurred while on Active Duty. I was medically retired with 60% military and 80% VA disability. I am also a Title 5 Federal Technician under FERS since 2004 and am wondering if I should buy back the almost two years of Active Duty time from when I was on AD orders to put those years back into my FERS retirement calculation or not? With the disability retirement, I am currently receiving a military retirement check minus the VA disability amount. Will the military retirement pay continue once I do retire from Federal service and can I draw both the military and FERS retirements? Can you advise on these questions?

    • Yes, you can receive both a military and FERS retirement benefit without a reduction in either. Making a deposit to get credit for a period of active duty service is usually a good idea if the dollar return in an annuity will be greater than the out-of-pocket expense of making the deposit.

  41. FYSA,

    I am being medically retired from Army NG with @ 70% rating “permanently disability retirement”. The disability is coming from a combat-related injury. VA rating @ 90%. I am a FedTech with 5yrs. I have bought back my AD time of 12 yrs into FERS. From what I have gathered for my situation since I am 18 yrs of military service, 5 years of FedTech, the only compensation and annuity entitlements I am allowed (without owing Uncle Sam anymore time and monies) is VA and to apply for FERS. Doesn’t sound like I qualify for CDRP or CSRS because I don’t have 20 yrs service unless there is a “grey area” I am not aware of.

    • No, there isn’t any gray area. While I can’t speak to CDRP. I can tell you that you would have never qualified for coverage under CSRS (the Civil Service Retirement System) because you were first hired after 1983.

  42. My husband has 3.5 years in the Marines (age 18-22), and currently 20% VA disability (we are working on increasing this). He is considering medical (disability) retirement from fers at age 43, and has 20 years in (age 22-current). Should he buy back his military time? Will it benefit him at all now or in the future to spend the money on the buy back? No military retirement. Thank you!

    • Making a deposit to get credit for active duty service has no affect on on an employee’s disability retirement benefit. However, at age 62 the disability benefit of FERS disability retirees ends and that benefit recomputed as if the employee had worked to that age. As a result, fewer years would be used in the computation of that benefit and the new benefit would be smaller than it would have been if the deposit had been made.

      • So the best thing would be to figure out if the cost of the buy back would be worth the extra years in the end?
        The best we could estimate the cost of buy back would be about $1800. In your “unofficial opinion”, when he “retired” at 62, he would have either 40 years, or with buy back 44 years…
        Worth it? Being very young, and very new to all of this, we don’t truly understand if there would be a difference. And $1800 is a lot for our young family being forced in to medical retirement unexpectedly…we don’t just have that kind of money sitting around as he is already in an LWOP situation.
        Thank you in advance for your “free information”. We have been lost in this!

  43. I may have missed a similar question above but here goes mine anyway. I’m retired military and receive 10% disability pay from VA. Currently, because my disability is less then 50%, it is subtracted from my retired miliary pay and paid tax free from the VA. More precisely, I receive $144 tax free from VA which in turn reduces my military retirement pay by $144. Fast forward to presently, I’m a GS 14/6 who is considering MRA +10 early retirement. If I pay military deposit or buy back, will my 10% of VA pay also reduce my future combined FERS + Military retirement pay by $144? Hope that made sense.

    • No, it won’t. Your annuity will be based on a combination of your years of actual civilian service and those years of active duty service in the military for which you’ve paid a deposit.

  44. Bradley Robinson on

    I am being medically retired from military service with a “permanently retired” rating of 70%. I am retiring from MilTech service under Special Provisions Disability Retirement after 5 years of MilTech service. VA rating 90%. I have active duty service I was buying back into FERS. I am told I cannot continue to buy back or write a check for the remaining amount based on what my orders say. Is this true and why? It’s a substantially different sum if I buy back my time. I was told that I will be refunded the sum I have already bought back.

    Retirement type and allotment code: Permanent/12
    Component: ARNG
    Authority: AR 635-40
    Statute authorizing retirement: 1204
    Other eligible laws: Not Applicable
    Disability retirement: 13 Year(s), 09 Month(s), 05 Day(s)
    Basic Pay: 18 Year(s), 00 Month(s), 15 Day(s)
    Completed over 4 years of active service as Enl or WO: N/A
    Disability is based on injury or disease received in LOD as a direct result of Armed Conflict or caused by an instrumentality of war and incurred in the LOD during a war period as defined by law: YES
    Member of an armed force on 24 Sep 75: NO
    Disability resulted from a combat related injury as defined in 26 USC 104: YES
    Disability incurred in the line of duty in a combat zone or result of performing combat related operations YES
    Format: 687

  45. Bradley Robinson on

    I got a better explanation from the local HRO Office. Essentially, with my time in active duty service time and given my particular circumstance, I was told I can not “double dip” with my time.

  46. Mr. Jones,

    Thank you so much for sharing your expertise. I’ve learned so much more in reading your answers to questions than I have from anything I’ve found on OPM’s website or my local HR rep.

    I am 52 years old. I retired from the military in 2014 with 20 years and went right into Federal service under FERS.

    I now have 7 years with the government and recently learned about the buy-back option from a colleague.

    I am rated 70% disabled by the VA and receive a separate disability payment in addition to my military retirement.

    I’m trying to determine if the buy-back is worthwhile for my situation since I want to retire at age 62. Would you mind checking my assumptions/math?

    1. If I make a military deposit, those 20 years will be added to my FERS calculation which at age 62 would add up to 37 years service (20 + 7 current + 10 more to age 62).
    – So total 37 years service x high-3 of $160K x 1.1% = 65120/year FERS Annuity in today’s dollars.

    2. If I don’t buy-back, then my FERS would be 17 years total service at age 62:
    – 17 x high-3 $160K x 1.0% (less than 20) = 27200/year FERS Annuity
    – Plus military retirement of $36000/year = total 63200/year

    3. Do my calculations appear correct for 1 & 2?

    4. I calculated the cost to buy back my military service to be approximately $26,000 before interest (3% of the total base salary). At a difference of $1920/year between 1 & 2 (65120 – 63200), I think it would take 13.5 years to break even on my $26,000 buy back (26000/1920=13.5). Does that seem right?

    5. As I understand your previous answers, my VA disability payment would not be affected and would continue. Is that correct?

    6. I would continue receiving my military retirement payments until I actually retire under FERS, correct?

    Thank you so much for your time and consideration.

    • You’ve done an impressive job of analyzing your options. And the conclusions you’ve drawn are accurate. The only thing you didn’t include is the fact if you make a deposit to get credit for your active duty service, each January your annuity would be increased by the annual cost-of-living adjustment. As a rule the COLAs applied to Social Security benefits and federal annuities are greater than the amount of any annual pay adjustments made to federal employee salaries.

  47. Hello, I am in a similar position as this person and just wanted to clarify a few things

    About me:

    Medically retired army at 11.5 yrs. Combat related.

    100% va rating but my retirement pay (due to base pay amount) will be the higher of the two. Therefore I will receive dod retirement pay and not just VA.

    I will be starting a fed GS job shortly.

    My question:

    Because I am medically retired at a permanent and total level due to combate related injuries, will I be able to 1. receive my full military retirement pay with no forfeiture, 2. Pay into the fers to buy back time in the military, and 3. Be able to collect an ADDITIONAL retirement from the federal government after I retire from this new job?


    • 1. Yes, you can receive your full military retirement. 2. Yes, you can make a deposit to get credit for your active duty service. 3. Yes, if you make that deposit, when you retire from your civilian job you will collect an annuity based on your total years of military and civilian service.

  48. Mr. Jones,

    Thank you for your time and expertise.

    I am medically retired from the USCG with 7 years of service and receiving VA comp in lieu of retired pay. I currently work for the USCG as a civilian and attempted to buy back my military time and was denied. The justification provided was that the disability was not incurred in combat or was effected by an instrumentality of war. Is this correct? If not, if there a regulation that pertains to this situation?

    Thank you for your time and assistance. It is appreciated.

    • According to OPM, you can make a deposit to get credit for your active duty service. Although you are not receiving military retired pay, you are entitled to it; therefore you would have to officially waive that pay when you retire. Doing so would have no affect on your VA compemsation.

  49. Hello, I am a civil servant, I am also a retired military, For health insurance I use Tricare (ret military), I have waived FEHB health insurance. A friend is telling me to make sure I sign up and take the FEHB at least 5 years prior to retirement under FERS. My question, which one is a better system for someone like me after 65?
    Tricare or FEHB?
    I am very happy with Tricare ($50 a month for a family of 4).

    • If you want to have FEHB as a backup, you would have to be enrolled in it for the 5 consecutive years before you retire from your civilian job. If you don’t think you’ll need that because of your experience with Tricare, don’t enroll. However, if you think you might need it as a fall back in the future, select the least costly plan in the program and enroll in it.

      Since I don’t know anything about Tricare, I can’t answer your question about which program is better for those over 65.

  50. Mr Jones,
    I received a medical honorably discharged from Navy with 1.75 yrs active duty for non-war/non-combat service-connected disability and given 20% rating by VA. If I buy back my 1.75 yrs of military time to use towards a FERS retirement will I have to waive my VA disability compensation, now or at retirement? I do not receive any military or retirement pay or benefits from the military. I am considering buying back the time to retire earlier. Thank you for your assistance!!!

    • No, you will not have to waive your VA disability compensation if you make a deposit to get credit for your active duty time.

  51. Good afternoon, I am in the guard and a federal tech (in order to have my job I must be in the guard) I am being medically put out of the guard and therefore would lose my fed tech job. I have 30 years fed tech and I am 50 years old. My question is should I try for a medical on the fed tech side or take my retirement and severance pay? What is better in the long run.

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