Military buyback procedures


Q. I recently separated after 12 years of active duty in the military. I now work as a GS. What are the advantages of buying back my time, and how do I calculate how much will it cost? How many years do I have to serve as a GS before I can retire? I am 32 and been in the GS one year.

A. If you make a deposit for your active-duty service, when you retire your annuity will be 12 percent more than if you don’t. The deposit will be 3 percent of your basic military pay (not including allowances or differentials). To find out how much that deposit will cost you, complete Form RI 20-97, Estimated Earnings During Military Service, and mail it to your military finance center with a copy of your DD 214, Report of Transfer or Discharge. When you get the answer, take it to your payroll office, along with a copy of your DD 214 and a Standard Form 3108, Application to Make Service Credit Payment. They’ll tell you how much you would owe. The earliest you could retire would be at your minimum retirement age, which is 57. Note: You can download copies of the RI and Standard Form at


About Author

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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