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How to Buy Back Military Time

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. --

Many Reserve Citizen Airmen joined the Air Force Reserve for the prospect of travel, new experiences and benefits. Some members transitioned out of the active-duty lifestyle to be able to establish roots. Some joined right out of high school for the adventure. But, regardless of when or why a member joined, at some point they might learn about federal career opportunities and how their military service can affect federal civil service benefits.



Eligible military service time can be added to a federal employee’s retirement date. This action is called a military deposit under the Federal Employee Retirement System, or better known as “buying back” military time.

“Let’s say you’ve decided you want to retire from civil service after 25 years,” said Shelly Cantwell, the Civilian Personnel Liaison for the 442d Fighter Wing. “If you have five years of military service that you bought back, then you can retire after 20 years.”

To begin the process, the employee completes an Estimated Earnings During Military Service request form, said Cantwell. This form can be found on the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, myPers or Office of Personnel Management websites.

The form requires verification of active duty service documentation, such as, a DD 214 to be attached and sent to the military finance center of the respective branch of service.

After receiving the estimate, then a Standard Form 3108 Application to Make Service Credit Payments must be completed.

“The process can be confusing, but the application is straightforward,” Cantwell said. “If you’ve decided to make a career out of your civil service job, you can buyback military time as you go.”

Next, submit the completed application, estimated earnings and DD 214(s) to the Benefits and Entitlement Service Team for processing. Then from BEST, the package goes to DFAS to compute the deposit amount and arrange payment.

“There’s so much information, and so many factors that can affect the calculation of time,” Cantwell said. “It can get complicated when a civil service member is ‘double dipping,’ or when they receive pay for military leave from their civil service employer while on active duty orders.”

These factors and situations like Uniformed Service Employment and Reemployment Rights Act service should be discussed case by case with your human resources specialists.

Lastly, a “Paid in Full Letter” should be requested once the deposit is fully paid which will be reflected on the leave and earnings statement in Block 20 as a zero balance owed.

More resources on buying back military time can be found at mypers.af.mil, www.dfas.mil, or the Office of Personnel Management at www.opm.gov.