Military buyback question


Q. I retired from the Air Force in 2002 after 29 years on active duty. I worked nine years in the private sector. In March 2011, I returned to the government as a member of the Senior Executive Service and now have 1½ years under my belt. I have not done a buyback. I understand that to qualify for retirement, I must work at least five years. What are the pros and cons of staying 3½ more years and buying back?

A. To be entitled to any retirement benefit, you would have to be employed under FERS for five years. With five years under your belt, you could even leave government and apply for a deferred annuity at age 62.

Whether it would make sense for you to make a deposit to get credit for your years of active-duty service is something you’d need to discuss with a financial planner. That person could help you covert the options into dollars and cents. Keep two things in mind: First, if you decide to make a deposit, the sooner you do that, the less interest you’ll have to pay; second, at retirement, you’ll have to waive your military retired pay.

If, at the last minute, you decide that you don’t want to waive your retired pay, you’ll get a refund of your deposit plus accrued interest.


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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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