Military retirement and federal service


Q. I have more than 24 years of military service when I retired. I am not working for any federal or civil service organization now. I am trying to go to work for a government agency. The question how can I figure out how much I would have to buy in without having a job yet? How many years will the buy in give me, all 24-plus years? I am 56 years old. What would be my eligible retirement date with a government job? I am receiving retirement pay, which deducts the VGLI and survivor benefit payments hand. How would losing my retirement affect that? Finally, how can I figure out what would benefit me the most money wise?

A. To estimate how much you would owe, fill out Form RI 20-97, available at, click on Find Form(s), and send it along with a copy of your DD 214 to the finance office for your branch of service. When you get the report of your basic military pay, use the following percentages for each period of active duty service. For periods before Jan. 1, 1999, 3 percent; during 1999, 3.25 percent; during 2000, 3.4 percent; after Dec. 31, 2000, 3 percent.

If you make the deposit when you go to work for the government, you’ll get full credit for every year and full month of service toward your civilian length of service. And, if you make the deposit within two years, no interest will be charged. Just be aware that when you retire from your civilian job, you would have to waive your military retired pay.

To be eligible to retire from your civilian job, you’d need to work full time for five years to be vested in the system. Once you did that, you could retire at once on an unreduced annuity because any employee who is age 60 and has at least 20 years of creditable service can do that.

There is no easy way to assess the pros and cons of making a deposit and waiving your military retired pay. While you can start out with pencil and paper, you may want to hire a financial adviser to help you. And before you get too far into the process, you’ll want to check with your branch of service to find out how making a deposit and waiving your military retired pay would affect the benefits you mentioned.


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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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