Military retired pay, FERS, VA disability

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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.

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About Author

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

75 Comments

  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.

    • You are asking for an opinion which we cannot give. You’ll have to consult a financial adviser, one who doesn’t have a stake in you decision.

  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

    • I’ve never encountered a situation like yours. However, it makes sense for you to write Navy and explain the situation. They should be able to provide you with a letter that you could send to OPM. Then you’d have to wait for OPM’s response

  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?

      • 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 http://www.federaltimes.com. Just click on my icon.

  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?

  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.
    Thanks!

    • 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

  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?

    Thanks

    • 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.

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