Q: I have just been offered a GS job that I plan to start in a couple of months. However, I have a unique situation. I have the opportunity to retire in September and start receiving my retirement pay immediately because I will have obtained more than 20 years of total combined active-duty time during my 29+ years of active duty and reserve service. So, basically I can begin receiving my retirement immediately beginning in October 2011 even though I have not reached the 60 years of age that is normally required for reservist retirement because of the “sanctuary” provision given to military members who have reached at least a total of 18 years while still on active service. Sanctuary laws mean that if you are on active duty (I am on active duty recall orders but I am still a reservist) when you hit 18 years or more of total active service, the military is required by law to not involuntarily discharge you until you reach 20 years of total active service, which then entitles you to immediately receive your retirement payments). I have a total of 29+ years, with 20 of them being on active duty or on active duty recall, but I am still a reservist. I am not classified as an active duty person even though I will be receiving my retirement immediately like an active duty person would. Is the key here that I get my service to retire me as a reservist, i.e., that my retirement forms say I am retiring as a reservist but that I will be getting it immediately, rather than them saying I am getting an active duty retirement? If I do get them to officially retire me as a reservist but with the benefit of getting my retirement immediately upon discharge, will I still be able to buy the 20 years of active duty time toward my FERS retirement because it is classified as a Reserve retirement??
A: Whether you are receiving reserve retired pay or only eligible to receive reserve pay makes no difference. Once you are hired, you can still make a deposit for all your active duty service to the civilian retirement system and get credit for it in determining your length of service and in your annuity computation. FYI, not withstanding the major leg up you have toward retirement from your civilian position, you’d have to be covered by FERS for five years to be eligible to do that.