Buying back multiple active-duty periods


Q: I have three periods of military service for which I am required to pay a deposit under “Catch 62.” The first period, 1969 to 1972, I paid for when it came due in 1986. This bought me a period of about 2.6 years. I was mobilized for Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm in 1990 to 1991, and for duty in Bosnia in 1997, for eight and seven months, respectively.

I plan to work off the additional time by delaying my retirement for 15 months or more. When I discussed this plan with our human resources office, I was told that I may not be able to keep the original 2.6 years I’ve already redeemed if I do not completely pay off all three periods of active duty. Is this true?

A: No, it isn’t true. When you have more that one period of active-duty service, you can select which one or ones for which you want to make a deposit. The time for which you already made a deposit is “in the bank” and can’t be affected by what you do about the other two periods.


About Author

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


  1. Sulma Rodriguez on

    I just retired in October and need to buy back some time I have not gotten any information on how to buy it and we’ll like to do so as soon as possible do you have. Good phone number I can call I work for DECA

    • If you are referring to periods of active duty service in the armed forces, you can’t make a deposit once your retirement application has been received by OPM. If you are referring to civilian service from which no deductions were taken, it depends on whether you were covered by CSRS or FERS. If CSRS, you can make a deposit. If FERS, you can only make a deposit for non-deduction service performed before January 1,1989. Since I don’t have a “good” phone number, you’ll just have to be patient.

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