A significant portion of federal employees (around one-third) have served part of their time in the military. If you gave your time in active service to the military, you may qualify for this opportunity, which increases your long-term payout from the government. As long as you are not already receiving military retirement pay, this opportunity could benefit you.
All veterans with active duty military service time are eligible to buy back their military service time, which gets added to their years of civil service and increases their annuity. This includes people employed by the CSRS or FERS. People receiving military retirement are prohibited from participating in military buybacks because they are already receiving their full benefits.
The Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) is civilian service where your pay is subject to CSRS deductions, service under the Peace Corps or another that allows CSRS credit, or individuals subject to credit with a specific program or entity, like the D.C. government.
People employed through the CSRS are eligible to buy back their active duty time in the military in order to increase their annuity. The deposit they must pay to buy back their time is equal to their years in military service multiplied by 7%.
The Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) includes civilian service as a career appointment subject to FERS deductions.
As a FERS employee, your service creditability and retirement deductions depend on when you performed the service. You will be expected to pay a deposit for your service. Creditable service also includes a few categories of people who performed their service before 1989 with one of the following:
- Part-time PIT service between December 1988 and May 1998
- Service under the Foreign Service Pension System
- Service as a Senate Employee Child Care Center worker
- Service as a volunteer in the Peace Corps
- Service as a VISTA volunteer
- Service before December 1990 with the Democratic or Republican Senatorial Campaign or National Congressional Committees
- Service before December 200 with the Library of Congress Child Development Center
- Service as a Senior Official
- Congressional Employees subject to the Social Security Amendments of 1983
- Service performed under a Federal Reserve Bank Plan
- NAF service under P.L. 107-107 for title to an annuity under the FERS
- CSRS refund service that flips to FERS
FERS employees who want to buy back their military service time to increase their annuity will need to pay a deposit equal to their military pay multiplied by 3%.
Why Buy Back Your Military Time?
Military buyback can mean an increase in your monthly payments through your annuity. Your government pension can otherwise be reduced if you do not buy back your military time if you are eligible for Social Security benefits when you reach age 62. Eligibility for Social Security payments means you are a U.S. citizen and have worked for at least 10 years or 40 quarters while your payroll taxes paid into Social Security.
You will want to buy back your military time within three years of retiring. Unless you buy back your time by paying your deposit during the grace period, your deposit amount will gain compounded interest and you may have to pay two to three times the amount to avoid the reduction to your annuity.