Q. I have around 13 years active Army and three years Army National Guard time total. I was a sergeant when I separated in October 2011 from the Army. I just accepted a position at the U.S. Postal Service. How much will it cost me to buy back my military time, or is it even worth it? Would that mean I now would have 13-16 years with the post office counting toward my retirement? Does buying time back do anything for your new or current pay grade in a federal job? Does it count toward leave accruals?
A. While you would receive credit for your active duty service in determining your leave accrual rate, it would only count for retirement if you make a deposit to the civilian retirement system. To find out what you would owe, you’ll have to 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. 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 www.opm.gov; click on Forms.) Note: Active duty service would only have an affect on your entering pay grade if the knowledge and skills you acquired there were relevant to the job into which you were being hired. That determination would have be made by the agency that hired you.