Buy back


Q. I recently attended a FERS retirement seminar and was told that buying back my enlisted military retirement is a bad idea because it would be close to $40,000 to $50,000. I have calculated my buy back on several online federal calculators and don’t come up with anything near that cost. I am calculating all of my active duty earnings from my entry date on active duty through my retirement date — 20 years and one month. I have included the 10 years of interest I have accrued as well since I did not buy it back within my first four years of civil service. I have been collecting military retirement pay since November 2000. Am I also required to payback the retirement I have been receiving for the past 15 years?

A. While I don’t know how much you would need to deposit to get credit for that period of military service, the amount you were told seems unreasonably high. To get the correct amount, do the following: Complete OPM form RI 20-97, Estimated Earnings During Military Service, and mail it, along with a copy of your DD 214, to the military finance center for your branch of service. When you receive that estimate, take it to your local payroll office, along with copies of your DD 214 and a Standard Form 3108, Application to Make Service Credit Payment, and ask for an estimate of the deposit you owe, including interest.

If you decide to make the deposit, you can do so in a lump sum or through a schedule of regular payments. You won’t be required to repay any of the military retirement you have already received. Instead, you may continue to receive that benefit. However, when you retire, you will be required to waive all future payments. If you don’t, that period of service will be eliminated, your deposit refunded and your annuity based solely on your civilian employment.


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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


  1. I bought back 22 years, 1 month of military retirement last year and it cost me a little over $16,500, the price you were quoted is way off.

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