Q: I started a federal job four months ago and I want to buy back my active duty military time. I will be eligible to retire from the reserves in September 2011 with 20 good years. I have 13 years and nine months active duty and the remaining is all reserve time. Now, everyone tells me I cannot buy back and put my active duty time toward my federal retirement and retire from the reserves because it is double dipping. I am being told by sea lawyers that I can only use the active duty time once, either for retirement or for buy back. What are my legal rights?
A: Both of your sources are wrong. Stop listening to them. You can make a deposit to the civilian retirement fund and get credit for your active-duty service in determining your eligibility to retire and in your annuity computation. Doing so won’t have any affect on your entitlement to reserve retired pay. You’ll find the instructions for making a deposit at www.opm.gov/retire/pubs/handbook/C023.pdf. Your local personnel office can not only help you with the process but they can confirm what I have told you.