Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Buyback and VA

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Q. I retired from the Army with 20 years of active duty and am receiving retired pay. Additionally, I am receiving VA compensation for being rated as 50 percent disabled. I am considering buying  back my military time and forfeiting  my military retirement upon retirement from the federal government to combine it with my civilian FERS retirement. Will I also forfeit my VA compensation?

A. No, you won’t have to forfeit your VA compensation.

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Military buyback

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Q. I work for the federal government and I’m retired Army National Guard but won’t receive military retirement pay until age 60. I can retire at age 57 from my federal job. I’m 50 now. I have bought back my active-duty time through the buyback program. It was only two  years worth of active duty. I’m wondering if I did the right thing because I didn’t know about losing my military retirement because I bought the time back. I would not like to lose my 21 years of service and make less in my retirement because I bought back this time. Is that how it works? Also, this is Army National Guard/reserves. Does it work the same as regular military? Read the rest of this entry »

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Buyback age limit

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Q. I am 65 and still working but at this time, I have not or did not buy back my military time, is there an age limit where I do not have to buy it back, or yes, if I want the extra money, I will have to buy it back?

A. There isn’t an age limit on when you may make a deposit to get credit for your active-duty service. The only requirement is that you make that deposit before you retire. Note: If you are a CSRS employee who doesn’t make a deposit, you’ll still get credit for the time in determining your eligibility to retire; it just won’t be used in the computation of your annuity. If you are a FERS employee, you won’t get any credit for it unless you make a deposit.

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Creditable service

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Q. I was hired in January 1991 at U.S. Army TACOM in Warren, Michigan, as a Desert Storm Temporary. I worked for full two years. I also was on active duty in the Marine Corps from 1982 to 1989. I was hired full time at TACOM in 2007. I was able to buy 7 years from my active-duty service for retirement purposes. Is there any way that I can purchase my Desert Storm Temp time as a GS09? Read the rest of this entry »

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Military buyback

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Q. I am retired Army with 22 years and nine months being paid my monthly retirement check. I retired in May 2011. I started as a GS FERS employee in February 2013. I am in a target GS 12 position, which basically means that I will be a GS 12 in February 2017. I did the DFAS Payback estimator for military time and it stated that I would owe about $18,000. My monthly retirement check right now is about $2,200 a month. I know that I will have to waive that once I retire from civilian service in order to combine the civil service time and the military time. How much more in retirement would I get as a GS FERS employee, and is it worth the $18,000? I have heard that retirees don’t buy back their time because it is not worth it. I heard that this program is designed for the person who did any number of years but did not retire. Is that true? Do you know of retirees that buy back their time? Read the rest of this entry »

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Military and federal retirement

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Q. I am a federal employee with 21 years military service. I receive military retirement pay and a separate disability from VA. I am considering retiring in five years. If I buy my military time back now, can I keep receiving my military retirement until I retire from the federal government? Do I still receive my VA pay after federal retirement?

A. The answer to both questions is yes.

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Military buyback

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Q. Is it possible to buy back military service credit even if I am not currently employed by the government? I may at some future date return to federal service, but not for several more years. My concern is that I would like to purchase my military service credit before I retire from the Army Reserve (one to two more years). My understanding is that once I retire from military service, I am no longer eligible to purchase military service credit. If it is possible to do this, who would I contact to begin the process? I was a FERS-covered employee from 1992 to 2012. I did not withdraw my retirement contributions when I left federal service. I have 10 years of active military service. I have not previously purchased any military service credit. Read the rest of this entry »

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Buying back military service

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Q. I completed nine years and 10 months of active military service. If I buy back five years of service at county government level (max allowed at county level), will I be able to buy back the remaining four years and 10 months of active service based on acquiring a federal job after county retirement? Read the rest of this entry »

Military time

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Q. I have three periods of LWOP due to military deployments over the past 11 years. I am in the process of buying back my time. I have been told that my service deposit should be calculated at a lesser rate, not the standard 3 percent, due to me being a federal employee. I cannot find information regarding the lesser percentage. Can you clarify this issue and provide a reference? Read the rest of this entry »

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Military service time

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Q. I served eight years in the Navy Reserve and was honorably discharged. How do those years count toward retirement if I become employed by a federal agency?

A. Only time where you were called to active duty in the service of the U.S. would be creditable, and then only if you made a deposit for that time.

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Buying back time for military service

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Q. I am trying to get information regarding the buyback program. I served in the military for four years and got medically retired. I receive compensation from Veterans Affairs, so I thought that it would be a good idea to buy back my time. Could you tell me if this buyback is beneficial for a FERS employee? Read the rest of this entry »

Waiving military retirement pay

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Q. I have seen several posts and info on waiving military retirement pay when buying back military time; however, the timing is not clear. When does the military retirement pay need to stop — at the time of deposit payment(s) or at the time of the actual FERS retirement date? I am currently receiving military retirement pay and working for the federal government; I am considering buying back time to consolidate into FERS retirement. Read the rest of this entry »

Credit for military service in FERS retirement

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Q. I am a carrier with the USPS and recently paid back 14 years of active-duty military service toward my FERS retirement. I will be eligible for a Guard/reservist retirement at age 60. If I retire at age 62 from FERS and am applying the 14 years I bought back toward my annuity computation at that time, does it mean I have to waive my military retirement I will have been receiving since age 60? If so, to get two retirements I would only be using my Postal Service time for computation. Did I waste my time buying back the 14 years since I can only apply them toward one retirement? If this is true, can I still get the money back? Read the rest of this entry »

Earned years toward retirement

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Q. I am a federal employee with the VAMC. My appointment is Excepted without time limit. I am currently a GS-8 supervisor with one year in my current position. I have been with the VA since August 2010. I also bought back my military time (4 years). My Service Comp Date is 07/2006. My husband was put on orders to Ft. Leavenworth for school from 06/2014-07/2015. My question is: If I have a break in service where I do not work for the federal government will I:
1) lose my earned years toward retirement?
2) will I lose my earned GS level for reemployment with the government?
3) would I lose my years that I bought back from the military?

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Reserve time and federal civilian buyback

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Q. I have severed in the Air Force Reserves for 10 years. I have about three to four years of active duty time during that time in the reserves due to deployments and working extra days on military orders. If I buy back that time for my federal civilian position, how will that affect my retirement with the reserves should I go back in for my last 10 years in the reserves? Read the rest of this entry »

Service separation bonus and annuity computation

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Q. I have 14 years and 8 months of active Army service. In 1993, when Regan was initiating draw down of troops and instituted SSB (Service Separation Bonus),
I received a Service Separation Bonus in 1993′s drawdown of $40,000 before taxes and separated from the Army in Sept. 1993. In June 1995, I entered the federal service as a full time Civilian Government Employee working for the Army Material Command where I work today. At the end of this month, I will have 18 years and 9 months as a federal government worker. I am currently 56 years old.

Would it be more beneficial to add my active military service time to my federal government service time in order to receive a higher pension upon retirement? And if so, will I have to “pay back” the SSB I received in 1993? In general, my annuity would be based on the following formula: .01 x (your high-3) x (your years and full months of service). If I use this formula, then I would require a deposit, correct? Read the rest of this entry »

VA disability and FERS medical

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Q. I am a civilian FERS employee who received a work related injury.  Right now, I’m in the process of buying back my active military service (four years).  My injury is one that may eventually put me out on FERS medical retirement.  Can I collect federal medical retirement and VA disability?  Would it be beneficial for me to stop my military buyback? Read the rest of this entry »

Military buy back

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Q. I am trying to get information regarding the military service buy back program. I served in the military for four years and got medically retired. I receive compensation from the Veteran’s Affairs, so I thought that it would not be a good idea to buy back. But people say that I should get expert advice on this particular matter.  Could you tell me if the buy back program is beneficial for me? Read the rest of this entry »

Buying back FERS active duty time

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Q. I served five years and 11 months in U.S. Navy between 1992-1997 and was recently hired to work for the VA. Would my active duty time be applied towards my retirement, or do I need to “buy back” that time?
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Creditable service and early retirements

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Q. When is creditable service NOT creditable? As an Air National Guard Federal Technician, my local human resources office insists that three-plus years of Title 10 Active Duty military service (which I’ve paid my deposit for) cannot be used to satisfy the 20-year minimum service criteria for early/involuntary (loss of military membership) retirements in IAW 5 USC 8414 (c)(2). Is this correct?
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