Military buyback and Social Security quarters


Q. I served in the Army for four years from June 28, 1976, to June 27, 1980. I have been employed by the Postal Service since Dec. 15, 1980, and fall under CSRS. My time in the military, along with some part-time work while employed by the USPS is the only employment in which I paid into Social Security. This adds up to about 28 quarters toward my Social Security eligibility.

Since I did not buy back my military time and will not qualify for Social Security benefits when I retire before I reach age 62, will my military time still count toward my CSRS retirement? Also, if I work after I retire from the USPS and qualify for Social Security benefits after I reach age 62, will my CSRS benefits be reduced by four years?

A. Because you were first employed by the federal government before Oct. 1, 1982, you’ll get credit for that period of active-duty service in determining your total years of service and in your annuity computation. If you aren’t eligible for a Social Security benefit when you retire or, if already retired, at age 62, your CSRS annuity won’t be affected. However, if you are, those four years of active-duty service will be eliminated, and your annuity recomputed without them. If you expect to earn an additional 12 Social Security credits before you reach age 62, you may want to make a deposit for that time. It may be worth the cost to avoid an 8 percent reduction in your annuity.


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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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