Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Military buyback, VSI repayment, SRS and Social Security

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Q. I was honorably discharged from the Air Force in September 1992 under the Voluntary Separation Incentive program. I had 16½ years of service. I have received VSI payments each year since, and am due about 12 more payments.

In May 2000, I went to work for the Department of Labor under FERS. At the end of this year, I will have 13½ years of civilian service. I will also be 56 years old, my minimum retirement age, by the end of the year.

Can I buy back my military time and retire at the end of the year with 30 years of service (16½ military plus 13½ civilian)? If so, do I have to pay back the VSI payments I have already received, or can I continue to receive VSI payments? How would this affect the special retirement supplement? How will my Social Security be affected?

A. Yes, you can make a deposit to get credit for your period of active-duty service. If you do, that time will be added to your actual civilian service and used in the computation of your annuity. Having reached your MRA with 30 years of service, you could retire on an immediate, unreduced annuity and be entitled to the special retirement supplement. Just be aware that the SRS will be based solely on your years of civilian service.

When you reach age 62, the SRS will stop and you’ll be entitled to a Social Security benefit based on all your Social Security-covered work history.

Because this is a site for federal civilian employees and retirees, I don’t know what effect, if any, making a deposit would have on your VSI payments. If you are eligible for military retired pay, you would have to waive that pay when you retire. However, if you are only entitled to reserve retired pay, you wouldn’t have to do that. For more information about the VSI program, go to www.dfas.mil/retiredmilitary/plan/separation-payments/voluntary/voluntary-separation-incentive.html.

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