LEO and military buyback


Q. I had four years of active-duty military time, then entered the reserves (drilling).I later entered federal service (FERS) at age 33, then went under LEO 6(c) coverage at age 36 — mandatory retirement at age 57 as a law enforcement officer requiring at least 20 years’ service. I have been activated/mobilized several times, for a total of four years of additional active-duty time, since being under 6(c) coverage. Will I still be able to get a 6(c) retirement? Does the time mobilized count toward 6(c) retirement or just regular FERS time like my initial enlistment (per-federal employment)? Will I be required to buy back my military time when I return from my current deployment in order to retire as 6(c)? Is the buyback cost higher? My payroll / HR office doesn’t know — I think I am the only reservist they have. They don’t know how to deal with Reserve/Guard to the point I have had to sue (twice) under USERRA; once get my job back, and another time to reverse a demotion while I was mobilized. (My old supervisor likewise marked my performance as unsatisfactory while I was deployed and told me I cannot be promoted again as long as I am in the military.) They are telling me when I return I will be transferred to a non-LEO position because I will not be able to get the required 20 years for 6(c). I hope that is not correct and I want to direct them to right resources.

A. As a federal employee, any time you are called to active duty in the armed services and then return to your civilian job is creditable service if you make a deposit to the retirement system. Also, if those periods of active duty interrupt the career of a special category employee, such as a law enforcement officer, that time is considered to be special category time for retirement purposes.

Unless there is some other factor involved that had to do with your actual performance while on the job, your supervisor should not have rated your performance as unsatisfactory. Finally, your agency cannot move you to a noncovered position without justification, The fact that you have been mobilized and not available for duty doesn’t provide a basis for doing that.



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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 fedexperts@federaltimes.com.

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