Buy back and military retired pay


Q. I retired after 26 years of military service with a disability rating and have been a DoD civilian employee for seven years. I’m 58 now and considering full-time retirement but haven’t reached the MRA+10 requirement yet with only seven years in FERS. I have been told that I can sell back three years of my 26 military years and pay the difference. The questions are: Is that true? How would I find out the cost?

A. What you were told is wrong. Because you are receiving military retired pay, you have two options. You can either 1) continue to receive your military retired pay and, when you eligible to retire from your civilian job, receive an annuity based solely on those years of service or 2) make a deposit for all your active duty service and, at retirement from your civilian job, waive your military retired pay. In the latter case, you civilian annuity would be based on all your years of service, both military and civilian.

To find out what you’d owe, 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 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 amount you’d owe, plus accrued interest. Once you have that information, you can decide if the benefit is worth the cost. (The OPM and Standard forms are available for download at, click on Forms.)


About Author

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

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