Combining military, civilian service


Q. I have 20 years of active-duty service (Army E-6) and have just retired (actual retired date will be Dec. 1). I have been hired by the federal government as a GS-11. Would it be financially beneficial for me to buy back my military time and contribute it to my federal civilian retirement down the road? If I buy back my military time, will that 20 years allow me to retire from my civilian position early, maybe in 10 years with a total of 30 years of service? What is the impact or consequence of this on my military retirement?

A. Combining your active-duty and civilian service would allow you to retire with 30 years total service but only if you have reached your minimum retirement age. MRAs range between 55 and 57, depending on your year of birth. If you make a deposit to get credit for your active-duty service, do it as soon as possible. You’ll have an interest-free window that’s at least two years long. After that, interest begins to accumulate. One cautionary word: If you decide to make that deposit, when you retire, you’ll have to waive your military retired pay.


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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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