The following is a question submitted by a Federal Times readers about retirement and other issues facing the federal workforce. It is answered by Reg Jones, a charter member of the senior executive service and a Federal Times columnist since 1995.
Question: I was reviewing an article about calculating the Service Computation Date for civilian federal employees. Should a person pay into their civilian federal retirement if they retired from the military as well?
Reg’s Response: The answer to your question boils down to dollars and cents. To get credit for your active duty service, you would have to make a deposit to the civilian retirement system (plus accrued interest) and, at retirement, waive your military retired pay. Waiving that pay would have no affect on your entitlement to other military benefits.
To find out how much you would owe, complete Form RI-20-97, Estimated Earnings During Military Service, and mail it to your military finance center with a copy of your DD Form(s) 214, Report of Transfer or Discharge. The completed form or letter showing your estimated earnings will be returned to you. Take that letter, a copy of your DD Form(s) 214 and a Standard Form 2803 (CSRS) or SF 3108 (FERS) to your local payroll office and request an estimate of the deposit required. Your payroll office will compute the amount you owe, including interest, and arrange with you to make the payment in a lump sum or on a schedule of regular payments, if you decide to do that.
Note: You can download a copy of the RI-20-97 by going to www.opm.gov and clicking on Forms.
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Reg Jones is the resident expert on retirement and the federal government at Federal Times. From 1979 until 1995, he served as an assistant director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management handling recruiting and examining, white and blue collar pay, retirement, insurance and other issues. Opinions expressed are his own.