Buying back military time


Q. I worked as a postal clerk from February 1970 to June 1975. I came back and have been a letter carrier since July 1985. I served in the military from February 1966 to December 1968. What’s the story on “buying back the time?” I’m still an active carrier and would like to know the effect on my FERS retirement and on my Social Security.

A. To get credit for that period of active-duty service, you’d need to make a deposit to the civilian retirement system. The amount would be a small percentage of your military base pay plus accrued interest. If you did that, you’d add two years to your years of service and 2 percent to your annuity when you retire. To find out how much you’d owe, you’ll have to complete Form RI 20-97, Estimated Earnings During Military Service, and mail it to the finance center for your branch of service along with a copy of your DD 214, Report of Transfer or Discharge. When that information comes back, you’d have to take it to your local payroll office along with a copy of your DD 214 and a Standard Form 3108, Application to Make Service Credit Payment. Your payroll office would figure out what you owe and help you to make the deposit if you decide to do that. The RI 20-97 and SF 3108 are available for download at, click on Find Form(s).


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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