Five-year rule for retirement


Q: I have 15 years and 11 months military time, which I have bought back. I also have 3.5 years with the VA. Our human resources office says that I must have at least five years of civilian service in order to retire. The only reference to any kind of five-year rule I can find on the Office of Personnel Managment Web site only applies to those transferring from the Civil Service Retirement System to the Federal Employees Retirement System. I know there is a 5-percent penalty per year for every year under 62. I have several medical issues and am not sure what my lifespan will be anyway. Can you clarify this for me?

A: You must have a minimum of five years of civilian service to retire. Only then can your “bought back” military service be added on. See OPM’s chapter on Voluntary Retirement Based on Age at and scroll down to Section 41B1.1-2.B2.


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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