Q. I have a total of 18 years of active duty and reserve time, and I will be retiring in two years once I complete my 20 years of service. I am currently a civil employee. Do I buy back my military time toward FERS civilian service or do I hold up and completely retire from the military and then buy back the civil service time?

A. The choice is yours. However, the longer you wait, the more it will cost you. That’s because interest is added to the original amount each year.


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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. Only trouble is, if that the original poster retires from the military, he or she wouldn’t be eligible to buy back that military time, unless they waive the military retirement. Yes, the longer they wait to buy it back, the more it will cost, but the whole thing is a moot point anyway, if they’re retired military. And it doesn’t matter if you buy it back BEFORE you actually retire from the military. Either way, you can’t collect on a military retirement AND then turn around and buy back that same military time to use it towards your civilian retirement.

  2. Michael J riley on

    If that 20 years is combined active and reserve time it will be a reserve retirement not payable until age 60. I thought you said in prior posts you could draw a reserve retirement and buy back the actual active years toward your civil service annuity and collect both?

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