Military service buy back


Q. I retired as a master sergeant in the Army with 25 years of active-duty service. I currently collect my Army retirement check and disability from the Department of Veterans Affairs. I have been a FERS GG-12 for nine years. I believe I can buy back my military retirement time with interest and that would be added to my civilian FERS time. When do I have to relinquish my military retirement check: when I retire into FERS or when I have bought back my time?

A. Yes, you can make a deposit, plus accrued interest, to get credit for your active-duty service. You only need to waive your military retired pay when you get ready to retire. To see how that’s done, go to and scroll to Section 23A2.1-3, which applies to both CSRS and FERS employees.


About Author

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


  1. I retired in 2000 with 20 years. Started civil service in 2004 didn’t buy my retirement back until 2017. I retire end of this month that’s when my military retirement payments stop.

  2. REG,
    I see this question a lot here, just wondering why anyone with a military retirement check coming in would trade it for the purpose of buying back their time and ceasing what they have earned, wouldn’t a good suggestion be to keep their check and contribute as much as they can to the TSP.
    Just a thought.

    • If your retirement income would be greater, you should consider waiving your military retired pay when you retire from your civilian job. If it wouldn’t, you shouldn’t. Contributing the maximum amount to the TSP while working is always a good idea. However, if you were already doing that, it would have no bearing on your decision.

      • I just don’t see where its a smart move especially under the FERS guidelines approximately 1% per year to calculate annuity and military time can not be calculated in for the FERS supplement.
        Maybe if you retired military as an E-4 and then made it to a GS-13 or better maybe I could believe that.

        • As I just wrote to someone else, it’s a matter of dollars and cents. If combining your military and civilian service would produce a higher annual income, then you should waive your military retired pay. If it doesn’t, you shouldn’t.

  3. Chuck-
    I retired an E-7 with 20 years of active service (DFAS) and I am rated at 40% disability VA). I crunched the numbers and it was worth paying back the $9K to combine my years at retirement from CS FERS.

    I believe the issue is what year you retired. I retired in 2000. The troops are making much more money now. I had a conversation with an Army E6 who retired, and it wasnt worth it for her.

    Everyones situation is different. If you crunch the numbers and it isnt beneficial, than you know what you need to do. For me, I could should the numbers to a child and it was a significant difference and made the right choice.

    Hope this helps.

    • Thanks for your helpful response. It’s what I’ve been saying all along. If the numbers work for you do it. If they don’t, don’t do it.

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