Buy back


Q. I have two years of military service, from 1974-1976. I have worked for the federal government for 15 years, Is it worth buying back the time?

A. It all depends. While I can tell you what you’d get if you made a deposit to get credit for that time, I can’t tell you how much it would cost you. If you made the deposit, you’d automatically have your years of service increase by two and your annuity by 2 percent. 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 Deposit or Redeposit, 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


  1. Gabriele Furbay on

    I began working for the government as a temporary employee on 7 September 1987. I was converted to temporary on 1 May 1989. Recently I attended a retirement seminar and asked if it would be worthwhile to buy back that time and I was told that definitely it would make sense to do so. It would cost me slightly over $700.00 (per estimate obtained thru EBIS). I completed the SF3108 for buy-back, but received a letter back from OPM that I am not allowed to buy back that time. I could not tell you a specific reason, the letter was full of legalese, paragraphs and other gobbledygook. Is there a way you could tell me, in English, why I would not be allowed to buy back my time?

    • Whether you would be able to make a deposit for that period of service is determined by law and regulation. OPM is responsible for comparing your the period of service and the appointing authority under which you worked, only they are able to make that determination. Their reasons for denying your application to make a deposit are spelled out in those paragraphs you dismissed as legalese and gobbledygook. It’s highly unlikely that they would have made a mistake.

  2. I served six year’s of active duty from 1979 to 1986, joined the Army National Guard in 1991 until 2004 when I Retired, I am currently a Federal employee. I am in the process of buying back my active duty time. Will that effect my reserve retirement pay. Will I still be eligible for Tricare at the age of 60.

    • Making a deposit to get credit for your active duty time will have no affect on your reserve retired pay. Since Tricare is a military benefit, it falls outside the boundaries of this civilian forum. You’ll have to check with them

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