Beginning a military buyback


Q. I served in the Army for more than eight years of active duty and have been working for FERS for almost two years. What is the process for me to begin the buyback option? And would it be beneficial for me to take advantage of this option as I intend to remain a federal employee for the remainder of time prior to retirement? I heard there is a time limit to the buyback option, as well. Is this true?

A. To receive credit for your active-duty service, you’ll need to make a deposit to the civilian retirement system. To do that, complete Form RI 20-97, Estimated Earnings During Military Service and mail it to your military finance center along with a copy of your DD 214, Report of Transfer or Discharge. They’ll tell you what your estimated earnings were.

Take that information to your local payroll office along with your DD 214 and Standard Form 3108, Application to Make Service Credit Payment. Your payroll office will compute the amount you owe. While there isn’t any time limit on making a deposit, the sooner you do it, the less interest you’ll pay. Note: The RI and SF forms are available online. Just go to and click on Forms.


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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