Military buyback


Q. I am a Navy civilian Defense Department employee in my mid-50s. I have been in my current position since August 2001. I also have six years active Army (two separate hitches — a two-year and a four-year) as an enlisted man. I haven’t repaid that time. I don’t know whether I should pay that back or not. That gives me over 10 or over 15 years depending on how it is viewed.

I have considered leaving this position for a nongovernment job. What would my retirement options be in my current situation? What options are open to me given that:

1. I would choose to delay retirement benefits payment until the eligible age. (Is that 62 for me?)

2. I might or might not repay the Army time. (How much does it really benefit me to do that?)

I guess I could stay in four or five more years until I have a total of 20, repay for the Army time and I would also be nearer to 62, but I am maxed out on promotions for my position and don’t see any significant raises coming anytime soon.

A. Making a deposit to get credit for your active-duty service is optional. If you do, you’ll get credit for it in determining your years of civilian service and in your annuity computation. If you don’t, you won’t. For every year you buy back, your annuity would be increased by 1 percent.

Since you are in your mid-50s, your minimum retirement age is 56. Whether or not you make a deposit, because you have at least 10 years of service, you could retire under the MRA+10 provision. If you did, your annuity would be reduced by 5 percent for every year you were under age 62. You could reduce or eliminate that age penalty by postponing the receipt of your annuity to a later date. Alternatively, you could stay onboard until you were age 60. If you had at least 20 years of service then, you could retire on an immediate unreduced 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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