Military buyback


Q. I am a 52-year-old veteran who works as a civilian for the Postal Service. I began my military career with 10 years of active-duty Army service and then honorably separated and went to work for the Postal Service. I bought back those 10 years at that time and joined the Army Reserve. I served eight years with the Postal Service full time and USAR duty as required. In 2002, my Reserve unit was called up in support of Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom, and I remained an active-duty reservist until February 2012, when I qualified for lock-in. As required, the Postal Service held my job for me. Upon my return to the post office, I inquired about the process to make up the contributions to retirement and Thrift Savings Plan as outlined in the FERS guide and was told I could not because I was receiving reserved retirement pay, and that the time that I spent activated with the Reserve would not count toward postal retirement. Furthermore, the USPS wants to refund the money that I already paid to buy back my active duty service and not credit that time toward my USPS retirement. Is this correct? It does not appear to be under the following:

10 USC § 12741 – Retirement for service in an active status performed in the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve after eligibility for regular retirement

10 USC § 12736 – Service credited for retired pay benefits not excluded for other benefits.

A. If you are receiving reserve retired pay, you can make a deposit for the new period of active-duty service and you won’t have to take a refund of your previous deposit. If you are receiving military retired pay, with one exception, the same is true. Here’s the exception: When you retire from your civilian job, you’d have to waive your military retired pay.


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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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