Q. I’m a federal employee who was in leave-without-pay status during the three years I was on active duty. I’ll be retiring soon. If I make a deposit for that time, can I use my higher military base pay to calculate my high-3 when I retire?

A. No. By law your high-3 is based solely on your highest three consecutive years of civilian basic pay.


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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 fedexperts@federaltimes.com.


    • Your high-3 is based on your highest three consecutive years (36 months) of basic pay, regardless of when they occur in your career.

    • OPM is the sole authority when it comes to determining the amount of an employee’s retirement benefit; however, they will rely on the payroll information your agency provides that establishes the average of your highest three consecutive years of basic pay. If you have detected an error in your agency’s computation, you’ll need to get it corrected before you retire.

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