Military service deposit


Q. I have over 12 years of active duty service in the Army. I have accepted a job with a federal agency. I’ve been told that I can “buy back” my active duty time. How do I go about doing that?

A. Yes, you can make a deposit for your active duty service and get credit for that time in determining your length of civilian service and have it used in your civilian annuity computation when you retire from the government. If you complete that deposit within two years after you come on board, you won’t be charged any interest on the amount you owe.
To make a deposit, you’ll have to complete a copy of form RI-20-97, Estimated Earnings During Military Service, and mail it to your military finance center with a copy of your DD Form 214, Report of Transfer or Discharge. When they get back to you, take that letter, a copy of your DD-214 and Standard Form 3108, Application to Make Service Credit Payment, to your local payroll office and request an estimate of the deposit required. They can arrange a payment schedule or you can deposit the amount in a lump sum. You can get copies of the RI and Standard Forms from your personnel office or download them at


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 transitioned from a civilian doctor to an active duty Navy doctor. I am confused about creditable service and whether my active duty “time in grade” pay is correct, or if my time as VA employee should count too.

    First VA hospital I worked at was as a medical fellow — I was staff doctor for 2 years but did not get TSP funds. Second VA hospital I did get funded by TSP for 1.5 years. I had a break in employment of 5 months before taking oath to go active duty as an O4 Navy.

    I am being paid as an O4 with 1 year of time in service. Not sure whether I will stay active duty as a career or not.

    1) Is my current pay grade correct? 2) Is there any benefit to buying service credit from my time as a VA Hospital Employee? Thank you!

    • Because this is a site for federal civilian employees, I have no way of knowing if your current pay grade is correct. As for your other question, I’ve not aware of the military ever giving service credit for time spent as a civilian employee of the federal government.

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