Active duty service


Q. I served four years as active Air Force and then joined the Air Guard. I finished with 20 years of service and can not apply for military retirement until I turn 60. After I left active duty I worked at the Veterans Administration hospital for seven years. Before I left, HR told me that if I bought my four years of active duty back and paid a fee, interest I believe they called it, I could receive a partial pension with 11 years when I turn 56. I’ve seen so many comments, some saying I can not collect both pensions, but I also have read that the exception to collect both FERS and Air National Guard pension is retiring through the Reserve component and not active duty. Is that correct and can I collect both retirements or will I have to decide one or the other?

A. Federal employees who have served on active duty in the armed forces and who are receiving (or will be entitled to) reserve retired pay can make a deposit that equals a percentage of their active duty basic pay, plus accrued interest, and get credit for that time in their annuity calculation. Doing so will have no affect on their reserve retired pay. The only way a former employee can make that deposit is to return to work for the federal government in a position covered by the retirement system.

Note: If you returned to work and made a deposit, you would be eligible for an annuity at age 56. However, you would be retiring under the MRA+10 provision, As a result, you annuity would be reduced by 5 percent for every year (5/12 of 1 percent) that you were under age 62. You could reduce or eliminate that penalty by postponing its receipt until a later age.


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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

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