Maximizing Your Civil Service Computation Date

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Here’s a unique combination of a reader question about federal civil service– and a free eBook from The link below is only FREE until 11:59 PM PDT Friday. If you’re reading this post at your usual Thursday morning time, then you probably have less than 40 hours left.

First, I’m posting the reader question to see if anyone else has run across this rumor.

Reader “Moondoggie” commented on the Reserve retirement post:

“Great article! Plain English is very appreciated.

Perhaps you can help with this issue… I heard a Reservist’s “grey period” could be reduced (start receiving military retirement pay before age 60) by becoming a Civil Servant employee after separating from Active Duty (but transitioning into the Reserves with no break in service). Is there any truth to this? Thanks!”

[Note for you groms and younger hodads: here’s the Moondoggie surfing reference…]

I’ve never heard of any civil service program which leads to an earlier Reserve retirement. There are some “critical skill” civil service or contractor jobs which require the employee to also hold a billet in the Reserve or National Guard, but those don’t affect the usual Reserve/Guard pension date.

The only way that I’m aware of to receive a Reserve pension before age 60 is to deploy to a combat zone for at least 90 days in a fiscal year. The Congressional legislation authorizing that earlier pension has a number of tricky restrictions, and Tricare healthcare still starts up at age 60 no matter how much earlier the pension starts.

I’m not an expert on the civil service system, but I know someone who’s already living that dream: I forwarded Moondoggie’s question to He’s a Navy Reservist who’s also in the federal civil service, and he’s an expert at the mashup of civil service and military benefits. Here’s his response:

“What a timely question!

I just finished my eBook about Maximizing your Service Computation Date, and there is a 48-hour free download promotion that starts tonight at midnight!

Back to the reader’s question – I’ve not heard of a ‘parallel path’ on-ramp straight to civil service from active duty that earns you an earlier retirement in the Reserves/Guard.

Moondoggie has probably heard of the Military Service Credit Deposit and may be confusing the reserve pension with the civil service FERS Annuity.

The two pension systems are Apples and Oranges, but you can earn additional years of credit in FERS by ‘purchasing back’ your active duty time– as long as you are not currently retired from active duty and drawing a pension.

You technically can abandon your active duty pension and buy back in to FERS, but this would be giving up the proverbial 18-pound Butterball turkey (‘in the hand’) to earn FERS seniority (‘in the bush’).”

So, Moondoggie, the bad news appears to be that your Reserve pension start date is not tied to your civil service. However, transferring into the Reserves from active duty with no break in service is generally a good idea. Your Reserve recruiter might even offer a contract that includes a waiver from mobilization for a year or two. When you eventually mobilize to a combat zone, for every 90 days of the fiscal year that you’re deployed then your Reserve pension will start 90 days earlier.

(If any of you other readers have heard about a civil service position which allows Reservists to start their pensions sooner, please point me to a reference.)

Second:  that GubMints FREE eBook download started at 12:01 AM PDT Thursday, and it expires at 11:59 PM PDT Friday. If you’re reading this blog post at my usual 8 AM PDT release time, then you only have 40 hours left!

Related articles:
Military benefits after one enlistment (part 2 of 2)
Should you start a civil service bridge career after the military?
Guest Post Wednesday: “My Road to a Reserve Retirement”
Guest Post Wednesday: Update on Ben’s bridge career
Starting your bridge career after the military
The transition to a bridge career
Calculating a Reserve retirement

WHAT I DO: I help you reach financial independence. For free. I retired in 2002 after 20 years in the Navy's submarine force. I wrote "The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement" to share the stories of over 50 other financially independent servicemembers, veterans, and families. All of my writing revenue is donated to military-friendly charities.

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