Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Buying back military time

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Q. I am a U.S. Army reservist activated for 56 months and returned to federal service in November. I asked to buy back my active-duty time as a federal employee then and was instructed to fill out the form to DFAS and provide all my DD214s, which I did.

I just got a ridiculous letter from DFAS last week telling me to pay a whole lot for those months, and I know it is wrong.

I found a reference in USERRA that National Guard and Reservists do not pay either the 3 percent of base pay under FERS (or the 7 percent under CSRS) but only what would have been deducted for FERS from my base pay as a federal employee “just as if I had never been deployed.”

Now the letter from DFAS computed the 3 percent of base pay for the entire period and my payroll department doesn’t know any different, so how should I convince them to charge the correct amount? I got my USERRA info from http://www.opm.gov/retire/pubs/bals/1995/95-101.pdf.

A. Here’s what OPM had to say about that: “USERRA amended the law to provide that if the employee performs military service during a period of time that interrupts his civilian service, the amount of the military service deposit into the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund may not exceed the amount that would have been deducted and withheld from his basic pay during civilian service had the employee not performed the period of military service. See, specifically, 5 U.S.C. §§ 8334(j)(1)(B) and 8422(e)(1)(B) and Pub. L. 103-353, Sec. 5 (Oct. 10, 1994). Under section 8422(e)(1)(A), for example, the military service deposit is “an amount equal to 3 percent of the amount of [military basic pay] to the employee or Member for each period of military service after December 1956,” but the USERRA provisions provide that the deposit amount cannot exceed the amount that would have been deducted and withheld from his basic pay during civilian service had the employee not performed the period of military service.”

Feel free to print this out and send it to DFAS.

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Comments

  1. Keith Kelly Says:
    September 6th, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    Who did you process your deposit through? Usually your HR office produces a calculation showing the lesser of 3% or .8%. DFAS hasn’t produced the calculation for years. Also your SF3108 needs to specify your making a USERRA military deposit vs. Post 56 military deposit.

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