Military and FERS retirement


Q. I’m a reservist with over 17 years of active-duty time who is looking at becoming an Air Reserve technician eligible for FERS.  If I buy back my active-duty time and later become eligible for an active-duty retirement as a reservist through military deployments, making my active-duty time equal 20 or more years, can I collect both retirements without waiting until I turn 60?

Also, is there a requirement to buy back my years or enter the FERS prior to hitting 20 years of active-duty service?  I’m told that if I stay on active-duty orders until 20, I will become ineligible to buy back my time even if I have not yet elected to take the active-duty retirement.

A. The military aspects of your situation fall outside the boundaries of this forum. However, your intent to be hired as an ART but actually arrange to be on active duty makes me wonder why anyone would hire you. While you’d be serving your own interests, you wouldn’t be serving those of your employer.

Setting that aside, I can explain a few things that apply to federal employees who has served on active duty. First, as a FERS employee you’d have to be employed for five years before you’d be eligible to retire, and then only when you reached your minimum retirement age. MRAs range between 55 and 57 depending on your year of birth. Second, you could make a deposit for your active-duty service at any time before you retire. However, the longer you waited, the greater the amount of interest you’d have to pay. Making a deposit for your active-duty service would have no affect on your entitlement to reserve retired pay.




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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

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