Q. I am active-duty Air Force and want to transition to the foreign service. I have 15 years in, and I am currently eligible for an early retirement from the federal government that would average about $2,300 per month. Can you tell me how the buyback system works if I were to defer my retirement and roll those years into a federal retirement package? Additionally, how would taking an active-duty retirement affect my entry level if accepted into the State Department?
A. Once you become a federal employee, you can fill out Standard Form 3108, Application to Make Service Credit Payment. You can then set up a payment plan to make the deposit, which will be 3 percent of your basic military pay (not including allowances or differentials). If you complete the deposit within two years, no interest will be charged on the unpaid balance. While you were working for the government, there would be no need for you to waive your military retired pay; however, when you retired from your civilian job, you would have to waive that benefit. Since you are considering applying for a foreign service job, it’s unlikely that your past experience would have any affect on your starting grade.