Buying back military time


Q: I am a firefighter under the Federal Employees Retirement System holding a secondary position with a service computation date of 2003. I retired from the Air Force after 20 years of military service. I have a number of questions.

  • Would it be prudent for me to buy back my military time, which would allow me to retire early from civil service?
  • If I do buy back my military time and retire, would I lose my military retirement check?
  • Part of my retirement is a 40 percent service-connected disability from the Veterans Affairs Department. The other half is from the Air Force. Do I lose my disability payment?
  • Would I gain or lose money by buying back the time?

A: If you were to make a deposit for your 20 years of active duty, you would also have to waive your military retired pay; however, your VA disability benefits would not be affected. That period of service would not count toward the 20 years of covered service needed for you to retire under the special provision for law enforcement officers, firefighters or air traffic controllers. It would instead count as regular FERS service, and when you finally retired, it would be calculated using the standard formula. Whether making a deposit for that time would be a prudent one is one for you to decide based on how much you’d need to deposit versus what you’d get in return.


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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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