Military reserve service, civilian service and FERS


Q. I am currently a GS-12 at U.S. Southern Command. I served 31 years in the Army National Guard, U.S. Army Reserve, and was called to active duty on and off for around 7½ years. I bought back most of this Army Reserve active-duty time, and the amount just showed up today in block 20 of my civilian leave and earnings statement (military deposit paid). This is the first time in my Army career where I see that a reservist has it over an active-duty soldier in that he doesn’t have to combine his retirement with a civilian retirement.

However, yesterday, the Army Benefits Center-Civilian called me at work and said it is shredding my FERS retirement packet! Months ago, when I began the military deposit process, I was told by two ABC-C retirement counselors that I could buy my years of active military service in the Reserve and add to my three-plus years of federal civilian service to qualify for a small FERS retirement annuity in that I’m older than 62 and would then have far more than five years of creditable service.

The counselor who shredded my packet told me there are a lot of “new people” at ABC-C and I was misinformed. So now, instead of retiring, I’m resigning very soon for a variety of reasons (one being that I’m one of three candidates selected for a GS-13 position in my “home state” but am on hold due to the hiring freeze).

What form do I fill out, and where do I mail it to reclaim my funds?

A. You have to have five years of actual FERS service to be vested in the system and eligible for a retirement benefit. Active-duty service performed before you became a civilian employee can’t be used to reach that five-year target, only active-duty service that interrupts civilian service and for which you’ve made a deposit.


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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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