Military buyback


Q. I am retired Army with 22 years and nine months being paid my monthly retirement check. I retired in May 2011. I started as a GS FERS employee in February 2013. I am in a target GS 12 position, which basically means that I will be a GS 12 in February 2017. I did the DFAS Payback estimator for military time and it stated that I would owe about $18,000. My monthly retirement check right now is about $2,200 a month. I know that I will have to waive that once I retire from civilian service in order to combine the civil service time and the military time. How much more in retirement would I get as a GS FERS employee, and is it worth the $18,000? I have heard that retirees don’t buy back their time because it is not worth it. I heard that this program is designed for the person who did any number of years but did not retire. Is that true? Do you know of retirees that buy back their time?
A. Yes, military retirees do make a deposit to get credit for their active-duty service. It’s a good choice when the additional years of service they get accelerates the date on which they can retire from their civilian job and the additional annuity they’ll receive based on that combination of actual and deposit service makes it worth the investment. You could get a quick estimate of its value to you to retire from your civilian job at your MRA (which ranges from 55 to 57 depending on your year of birth). Then, using the standard annuity formula, see what your annuity would be using two different scenarios. In the first, your annuity is based solely on your civilian service. In the second, it’s based on your combined service. Here’s the formula: .01 x your high-3 x your years and full months of service, including unused sick leave.


About Author

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


  1. REG – I am a retired soldier (E7) with 20+ years of service, retired in 2001 and still married. I have bought back all of my military time because it was financially beneficial (GS15) and will forgive my retirement pay when I decide to retire as a FERS employee. My question is will the military waive the SBP? Can I pay it off? Do I just need to say that I no longer require? There are no court orders whatsoever concerning any of my pay or benefits.

    • Because I’m only qualified to answer questions about civilian benefits, I don’t know what affect your waiver of military retired benefits would have on the SBP. You’ll have to check with your branch of service.

  2. Edward Cathright on

    Hello, I retired from the US Army on 30 SEP 16 as a colonel with a full 34 years and 25 days of active duty service. My retirement pay began on 1 OCT 16 and is $9,293 monthly. My ex wife get’s 1/3 of that because of a court ordered divorce settlement. I am now employed under FERS with an annual salary of $225,010 and this job started on 24 JUL 2016. I would like to work 12 more years (total of 13 years) and project I will have a high three of $240,000 at the time of retirement. How much would my federal retirement be if I buy back my military retirement? How much would the deposit be? How much would the interest be? Would my ex wife be eligible to receive money from my federal retirement if I buy back the military retirement? Overall is this worth the buy back?

    • To get credit for tour active duty retired pay in your civilian annuity, you’d have to waive that pay. However, because you have a court order requiring you to provide a portion of that pay to your former spouse, you can’t do that. Therefore,the rest of your questions are moot.

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