Buy back military time


Q: I received a medical retirement from active duty in the Army after serving 15 years. I am working as a YA-02 (GS-11 equivalent) and I was wondering if I could buy back my military time. I am no longer receiving retirement pay because my VA compensation is more than my retirement pay. I have been a civil servant (FERS) for almost 2 years and my probationary period is just about over. Would it be beneficial for me to buy back my military time?

A: To get credit for you period of active duty service, you would need to make a deposit to the civilian retirement system and, at retirement, waive any entitlement to military retired pay. That would not adversely affect any VA compensation you are entitled to receive. The immediate effect of making a deposit would be to change the amount of your creditable service from two years to 17. Not only would this change your annual leave earning category but, in the long term, it would put you closer to retirement and substantially increase your retirement annuity.

To find out what you would have to pay to get credit for that time, complete a copy of Form RI 20-97, Estimated earnings During Military Service, and send it to your military finance center along with a copy of your DD Form 214, Report of Transfer or Discharge. When you hear back from the finance center, take that letter, a copy of your DD 214 and Standard Form 3108, Application to Make Service Credit Payment, to your local payroll office. They’ll figure out what you owe and arrange for the deposit to be made, if that’s what you decide to do. You can download copies of the RI 20-97 and SF 3108 at, click on Forms.


About Author

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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