Military and federal service and retirement


Q. I am looking at a job with the USPS. I have 10 years of active-duty service in the Air Force and three or four good years in the Reserve. I never reached 20 years to receive military retirement. How do these years in military service apply toward retirement and benefits if I get a job with the USPS? Do I have to buy back these years if I never received retirement, and how does that work? Then how long would I need the USPS job to gain retirement from the USPS?

A. If you worked for the federal government, you would only receive credit for you active-duty service if you made a deposit to the civilian retirement system. To be vested in the civilian retirement system and eligible for a retirement benefit, you’d have to have five years of full-time service. Any active-duty service for which you made a deposit would be added to that. To retire, you’d need one of the following age and service combinations: 62 and 5, 60 and 20, your minimum retirement age (MRA) and 30 or your MRA+10, but with a 5 percent reduction for every year you were younger than age 62.


About Author

Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to


    • With 20 years of civilian service, you could retire on an unreduced FERS annuity at age 60. Making a deposit to get credit for your 8 years of active duty service would increase that annuity by 8 percent.

      • Hello,
        I have retired with 28 yrs Military 14 which are active. I joined CBP bought back those 14yrs. I understand when I retire from the Federal Govt those 14yrs will be added on to my pay. Question is will I still receive a military pension as well.

        Thank you

        • It depends on whether you are receiving military retired pay or reserve retired pay. If the former, you’d have to waive that pay in order for the time to be used in the computation of your annuity. If the latter, you could continue to receive both your reserve retired pay and your civilian annuity.

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