Q. I am a FERS employee and retired from the military. I’ll have 18 years of service by the end of August 2017. I never bought back my military time. Is that something that I can do now, or is it too late?

A. No, it’s not too late. However, to get credit for that time you’d need to make a deposit to the civilian retirement system and, when you retire, waive your military retired pay. 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


  1. Is it only the pay that must be waived? The other benefits like Tricare and access to Commissaries are still available, correct? My co-worker had that question.

  2. Karen Mamalakis on

    Your military time will NOT count for the SRS if you are younger than 62 or at MRA of 56 like me and qualify for the SRS…. I just went through all of this and it’s so sad that HR knows so little and do advise personnel incorrectly. I had 33 yrs total and had only worked under FERS for 21.4 years. I receive just $685 a month for the SRS …..Still I am thankful that I retired. Too happy 2 be GONE.

  3. Karen Mamalakis on

    Also the interest to buy back ur military retirement will KILL ur wallet. You should have done this interest FREE within the First 3 years of FERS employment. Like Mr. Jones I recommend you doing the paperwork & I am curious of the costs involved. Good Luck!

  4. I just did this. Plan to retire in 18 months, the process of buyback takes a LONG time. I bought back 23 years (since I am a retiree it does not count for leave accrual). It is pretty straightforward but it takes 4-6 months to complete. If you are retiring and SRS eligible, you only get the SRS on your civil service time. Remember, this only continues until you are 62. Also, you are subject to an earning test on the SRS money–be aware of this as you plan. You must waive your retirement pay but this does not impact your Tri-Care, or other retiree perks.

  5. Mickey Mitani on

    For those who want to know what the interest rates are for the buyback, here they are:
    up to 1984-3.0 1985->13.0 1986-11.25 1987-9.0 1988-8.375 1989-9.125 1990-8.750 1991-8.625 1992-8.125
    1993-7.125 1994-6.25 1995-7.0 1996-6.875 1997-6.875 1998-6.75 1999-5.75 2000-5.875 2001-6.375 2002-5.55
    2003-5.0 2004-3.875 2005-4.375 2006-4.125 2007-4.875 2008-4.75 2009 3.875 2010-3.125 2011-2.75 2012-2.25
    2013-1.625 2014-1.625 2015-2.0 2016-2.0 2017-1.875
    Remember that interest only starts to accrue after completing 2 years of federal employment and is calcuated on a 30 day month. The interest is added once per year on the employment anniversary.

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