Military and federal service and pensions


Q. I am a retired Air Force veteran with 26 years of active-duty service. I receive a pension/retirement each month. I am now employed with the state of California, but it is an uncertain situation, given the economic difficulties the state is facing. I was looking at applying for a federal job, but I’ve been told that if I do, I would be reinstated as a federal employee and would no longer receive my pension. Is this true? I was hoping I could keep my pension and work in a federal job, but I believe this is called double-dipping.

A. No, it isn’t true. You could continue to receive your military retired pay and the salary of your new position. If you wanted to, you could make a deposit into the civilian retirement system and get credit for your active-duty service in determining your total years of civilian service and your annuity computation. However, when you retired, you would have to waive your military retired pay; otherwise, you wouldn’t get any credit and your deposit would be refunded to you.

Note: No matter what you decide, you would have to work for five years under the civilian retirement system to be vested and earn an entitlement to an 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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