Military buyback and reserve retirement


Q. I served in the Air Force on active duty for nine years, from 1994 to 2003, and have continued to serve in the Air Force Reserve since separating from active duty. I plan to work at least 25 years in the Air Force (combined active duty and Reserve).

I have been a civilian federal employee since 2003.

I am 45. My minimum retirement age is 56 years and 6 months.

If I buy back my nine years of active-duty time toward a FERS retirement, will I lose anything from my eventual Reserve retirement? Will my nine years of active duty count toward both retirements?

A. You won’t lose anything from your Reserve retirement, and your active duty will count toward both retirements.


About Author

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


  1. Donna Kaufman on

    I have over 23 years Army Reserve service. I would like to buyback my time to add to my civilian service for retirement. I see above that you are saying that “You want lose anything from your Reserve retirement”. Would that be the case for me? Also, what about my Tricare benefits that I would be entitled to at age 60. Will I still have Tricare?

    • You may only make a deposit to get credit for periods of service when you were called to active duty in the service of the United States. This includes any periods before you became a federal employee. However, you may not make a deposit to get credit for two-week periods of annual active duty for training that occurred while you were a federal employee or for longer periods unless you were in leave without pay (LWOP) from your civilian job.

  2. Hello,

    I work for Navy as a civil servant and I’m also in the Navy reserves. When I started with the government I bought back my military active duty time. I will have 13 years in the military in January. Does working as a civil servant effect your military reserve retirement? Does buying back your military active duty time effect your military retirement for civil servant?

    My contract is up in October for the Navy reserves. I want to make sure that able to get my military full retirement before signing a contract extension.

    • Making a deposit to get credit for your active duty service would have no affect on your entitlement to reserve retired pay and benefits.

      • Mr. Jones,
        Can you please elaborate when you say no affect? Are you suggesting there IS an affect for folks who retire after 20 years of active duty?
        Thank you.

        • If you retire from active duty. are entitled to military retired pay, and want to get credit for that period of service in your civilian annuity, you would not only have to make a deposit to the civilian retirement system but also waive your military retired pay. The only exception to the waiver requirement is if you have a service-connected disability either incurred in combat with an enemy of the United States or caused by an instrumentality of war and incurred in the line of duty during a period of was.

  3. I retired as a reservist in 2016. I have 15 active years and 5 good years as a reservist. I have been working for the federal government since 2012. From what I see I am eligible to retire in 2025. Can I buyback still? Would I be waiving my reserve retirement?

    • Yes, you can still make a deposit to get credit for your active duty service. Doing so would have no affect on your reserve retired pay of benefits.

  4. Mr. Jones,
    First, thank you for your valuable service to the veteran community.
    I am an old guy, 68, but a new employee with the Dept. of Labor. I was a Coast Guard reservist for 30 years with about 10 years of active service as a mobilized reservist. My reserve pay grade was from E-4 to O-6 at retirement in 2010. I have also had a few other federal jobs in my earlier years, with a combined service length of maybe a little over two years.
    How do I figure out how all of this can benefit me toward an earlier retirement/pension from DoL?

    • You have to have 5 years of actual FERS service to be vested in the retirement system and eligible for an annuity. If you make a deposit to get credit for those earlier periods of federal service, that time would be added to your actual service and used to increase your annuity.

  5. Mr. Jones. This has me excited since I’ve been working the issue for several years and still have another question. Disappointed I’ve been getting answers that the local HR can’t correctly answer. I’m 71, still working for the VA, eleven years this Jan, since age 60 I’ve been collecting my reserve pension. Called to duty three times in reserve status, longest Iraq, 20 months, from your reading I understand I can purchase this time now while I collect my reserve pension. Thanks for the assistance.

    • Yes, as an employee you can make a deposit for your periods of active duty service and have it used in the computation of your annuity when you retire. Whether you do that or not will have no affect on your entitlement to reserve retired pay.

  6. Sir. Would you be kind enough to share the statute that states that purchasing active duty service to count towards a fers retirement will not negatively affect our reserve retirement? Thank you in advance.

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