High 3 rules & military service time


Q. I served in the Navy back in the middle 1990’s for four years. I am now a federal employee for about 1.5 years and might be leaving the federal government. If I request to have my military service time be credited into FERS, I would have to pay a small amount of money since my salary during those years averaged around $12,000 per year. I want to know is it worth trying to have my service time credited into FERS and leave with 5.5 years in the FERS system? My salary now is a GS-14 level, so would that even factor into my calculation of my retirement benefits or would only my four years of being in the Navy be the only factor for the High 3 rule?  I was really hoping my current salary would be factored into my FERS since a retirement check based on a $12,000/per year salary wouldn’t be much. Any thoughts?

A. Regardless of whether you made a deposit for your period of active-duty service, you would need to have five years of civilian service to be eligible for a retirement benefit. Your high-3 would be based on your three highest consecutive years of average civilian salary. If you were to leave government after reaching five years of civilian service, you’d be eligible for a deferred annuity at age 62. If you thought you might be returning to government service in the future, you could leave your contributions in the retirement fund; if not, you could ask for a refund.


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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.

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