Military buyback and reserve retirement


Q: If I buy back my active-duty military time to put it toward my Federal Employees Retirement System retirement, do I then lose that time toward my Navy Reserve retirement?

A: No. Making a deposit for your period(s) of active-duty service will have no affect on reserve retired pay. You’ll get full credit for that time.


About Author

Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to


  1. Sir, Do you have the law that covers what is being stated here. I have 33 years in the guard and reserve. I am looking at buying back six and a half years of activations and schools that occurred during my federal employment. I am a 6C with 22 years of service in June of 2019. I am ready to cut the check but what insurance that I am not going to cut my reserve retirement in half by losing a lot of points.

    • No, I do not. I’ve based my answer on what I’ve been told by countless retirees who were in your exact situation. All of them reported that making a deposit had no affect on their reserve retired pay.

      • GC, you don’t LOSE anything on the Reserve retirement by doing a FERS buyback.

        1. You can buyback ALL AD days Pre-FERS start date. (AT, MPA, etc – even individual days)

        2. Post FERS start date, you can only buyback days on LWOP-US, documented via SF-50. (You MUST buy this time back, or it will NOT count towards toward your FERS longevity – since no FERS retirement contributions were deducted during this time!)

        That being said, my buyback package had over 30 entries, and took over 2.5 years to get finalized – which I did with a single payment.

        If you are ANG or AFRC, forget about going to your local HRO, it’s all started with a ‘help ticket’ in myPERS. Ask for a AF-1613 “Statement of Service” for all of your AD time – one Pre-FERS, and another for all your LWOP-US periods.

  2. Thanks for the input. I plan on buying back four periods of AD during mobilizations and two AD schools. I would lose over fifty percent of my military retirement check if all of those points were lost. I have read a lot and it looks like it will go well. I will retire from the military before I retire from federal service so I should know if the decision was good and be able to revoke it if needed.

  3. Another twist to the buyback question: Prior to the start of my FERS service I had 10 years active duty after which I remained in the reserves and became a GS employee. I have had a Certified Summary of Federal Service and it shows a total of 17.8 years of military service of which 10 years is AD time as well as 7.8 years LWOPS-US spread across multiple periods of military service, of which all are covered by USERRA which 4.5 are exempt from the USERRA 5 year rule (mobilization time). As a result of my LWOP-US I gained enough point to achieve an AD retirement from the reserves (under Section 8914 and not Chapter 1223) and started drawing my retired pay immediately; while still being a GS employee. I have made the deposit for all of the military time. 5 USC 8332 which both state that: If an employee or Member is awarded retired pay based on any period of military service, the service of the employee or Member may not include credit for such period of military service yet USERRA states 2)(A) A person reemployed under this chapter shall be treated as not having incurred a break in service with the employer or employers maintaining the plan by reason of such person’s period or periods of service in the uniformed services. (B) Each period served by a person in the uniformed services shall, upon reemployment under this chapter, be deemed to constitute service with the employer or employers maintaining the plan for the purpose of determining the nonforfeitability of the person’s accrued benefits and for the purpose of determining the accrual of benefits under the plan.
    My question concerns specifically the LWOP‐US time which should be covered under USERRA 38 USC Chapter 43. The question is does 5 USC 8332 (which requires a waiver of military pay) negate USERRA laws or does the USERRA take precedence over 8332? Will my USERRA (LWOP‐US) time be creditable for my civilian retirement (as outlined in 38 USC Chapter 43), without having to waive my military retired pay; provided that the military deposit is made?

  4. My time showed up as US Air Force before federal service and LWOP for the rest. I will not buyback the US Air Force as I don’t want to lose it for military retirement. I will buy back the rest since I believe I can keep it for military retirement. I am eligible to retire as soon as the time is credited.

  5. I am confused from reading this! Question, I am retired FERS and currently receiving that annuity which was based on buying all my active duty time as a Reservist, about 6 years since I had many deployments and also prior active duty as a young Soldier. I am now in the process of retirement from the Army Reserved with 21 good years. I was told by OPM that I can not “double dip”, so does this mean I can not receive now an Army Reserve retirement annuity??? Or will I need to choose one or the other? Thanks!

    • The question is not if you can receive both but if you can receive both in full. Paying back the deposit may not allow you to get full military retirement. I have heard both that you can get both and that you can not draw benefit for both system for the same period of time. For instance a Fed leaves for military service for a year and earns 365 retirement points. Are this e points lost if federal time is paid for? If so then that portion of retirement is lost to the military retirement.

    • Mr Cassidy,

      Please let me know how that works out. I keep getting conflicting information. My understaning is as follows.
      1. Military time before Fed Service is bought back and lost for reserve retirement or is not bought back and used for military retirement.
      2. Military activations have to be bought back to get credit for military service. You are considered absent from federal service and therefore do not get the time unless you buy it back.
      3. Here is the question. Does USERRA allow a double dip in time or does it not? I have bought back four mobs and two schools which are 1,902 retirement points. That is worth about $11.000 a year in military retirement.

      I contacted the 88 RD today and asked their retirement people but nothing yet. A fed employee handbook from 1998 stated that you have to choose one or the other. I know I get both retirements but want to know a specific example. Activated from 07/05/19 to 07/22/20. If I buy that back do I lose the points? Also what allows me to double dip?

      • Yes, please keep me updated as well. I have well over 4,000 points and actually 22 good years upon my recent review. I have heard and read that this perhaps is an exception to the “double-dipping”, but would like to get this nailed down firmly — is it all, some, or none? Unfortunately, I have been misled on important issues in the past, so I am quite cautious. As mentioned OPM was not able to give me an answer in the past and said essentially to wait until your retirement to have this settled. D

        • I was told by the 88 RD that we get both in full but am waiting to see the paperwork they send. If I get it will let you know the reference number. They told me that once you earn the points you keep them. I dont think that is the issue but the pay is. I am at 4772 and trying for the 5000 before I cash in. Should almost be at 4800 by the end of the year. I have 23 years in the FED and 34 in the MIL so I want to get the whole thing as much. I have heard back and forth constantly.

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