Military buyback


Q. I spent 20 years in the Navy and am currently receiving my pension from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service and a 30 percent disability pension from the Veterans Affairs Department. In 1991, I began my employment with federal government under FERS. In 2009, I applied for disability due to my health condition.

I spent 18½ years in federal service.  In June 2009, I began receiving my disability pay from the Office of Personnel Management, computed based on 60 percent of my high-3 for the first 12 months and 40 percent thereafter until I reached age 62.

I will turn 62 in October, and my disability annuity will be converted to regular annuity effective the following November.

Can I still buy back my military time and waive my military pension before October? I was under the impression that I am not considered retired from the service until I reach 62 because if there is a possibility of recovery, my employer has the option of hiring me back.

Also, I don’t have enough time to buy back my military time because I received the approval of my disability application 10 days before the effective date of disability retirement.

What is considered the date of retirement? The effective date they approved my disability, or the date they converted my disability to regular annuity? I was advised by OPM that the buyback should had been done before disability retirement (May 2009).

My Social Security disability was recently approved, and I have to pay the OPM back for the overpayment due to the offset rules. In my estimate, I need to pay around $18,000 to buy back 20 years of service. In return, my pension will increase by $440 a month.

A. No, you cannot make a deposit for your active-duty service. That had to be done before your application for retirement was finalized. The rule applies to both disability and regular retirements.


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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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