Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Adding husband to insurance

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Q. I work for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and I will be mandatory in 2-1/2 years. I got married in December and my husband is covered by VA. If I add my husband to my health insurance during open season in 2014, will he be able to remain when I retire in January 2016? I’m wondering because he will not have been on my insurance for five years. Read the rest of this entry »

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High-3 computation

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Q. Between 2009 and 2012, I served two deployments in Afghanistan as a GS employee (CSRS). Can my salary during those deployments be used in the computation of my high-3?

A. No. Only actual basic pay earned while a federal civilian employee can be used in that computation.

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Annuity computation

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Q. I’m a law enforcement officer with 16 years federal service. I also have three years federal service (non-LEO).  I’m looking at deferred retirement next year with 20 years of federal service and being able to draw my retirement at age 60, I’m currently 52. According to all I have read, the following would be how I calculate the income.
Base pay  80,000 X 17years X 1.7 for law enforcement.
Base pay 80,000 X 3 years X 1 for non-law enforcement federal service.
I have bought back 13 years prior military service but not sure where this counts.
Could you please review this and tell me if I’m figuring the amounts out correctly? Read the rest of this entry »

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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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Special retirement supplement

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Q. If I retire with MRA and 30, can I waive the special retirement supplement and draw the increased annuity at 62?

A. Even if you waived the special retirement supplement — which I don’t think is possible — it would have no affect on your FERS annuity. That annuity is set on the day you retire and doesn’t change until you reach age 62 and are first eligible for a cost-of-living adjustment.

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Retirement penalty?

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Q. I am FERS employee. I am 60 and this September I will have 29 years of service. Will I be penalized if I retire before I turn 62 and with only 29 years?

A. No, you won’t. You can receive an immediate, unreduced annuity at age 60 with as few as 20 years of service.

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Spousal annuity

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Q. In the FERS retirement system, do I have to be married at the time of my retirement  to obtain a spousal
annuity benefit, or can I get married after I retire and then change my status to spousal annuity? If I am married at the time of retirement and obtain a spousal annuity and later my spouse dies, can I change to the higher nonspousal annuity? Read the rest of this entry »

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FERS retirement

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Q. In an article entitled “Calculating CSRS, FERS annuities,” you indicated “that you could also retire early at age 50 with 20 years of service, or, if you have 25 years of service, at any age. I have 27 years and four months of service and I am 50 years old. Am I correct to understand that if I retire now, there would be no age penalty? Read the rest of this entry »

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Restoration of sick leave

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Q. I retired on FERS disability on Dec. 6, 2010, at age 53 with 21 years of federal service. I had 1,050 hours of sick leave. In May 2014, I returned to federal service in a virtual job that I work from home. OPM has not found me recovered.
1. Because my sick leave was not used in the calculation of my annuity (I retired under 62 years of age), should all my sick leave be restored?
2. The new hiring agency has offset my salary by my annuity and is deducting retirement. Should the agency use the old rate (.8 percent) or the new rate (4.4 percent), since my original hire date was in 1989?
3. What happens when I retire a second time? My agency tells me that I will get two annuity checks if I work less than five years and my retirement will be recalculated if I work more than five years? Read the rest of this entry »

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Retirement under CSRS

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Q. I am a CSRS offset, full-time, Term (NTE April 2015) federal employee. I am also a formal federal employee (all permanent positions) with breaks in service. My service comp date is 1983 and I am 60 years old. Can I apply for retirement now as a Term employee? I have paid into CSRS in my previous and current position. Read the rest of this entry »

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Can I retire now?

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Q. I am 53 years old with 32 years of creditable service. I am under the FERS retirement system, and my MRA is 56. Could I retire now? Read the rest of this entry »

CSRS Offset

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Q. I am a 56-year-old re-employed annuitant and CSRS Offset. I retired at 51 with 30 years of service and took an 8 percent reduction. I plan to work at least 5 more years so my annuity will be recalculated. I have been offered another government position and believe I could switch to FERS. Would I receive full benefits from FERS for the entire 36 years of service (31 under CSRS Offset and 5 under FERS) or would I receive 2 separate retirements? Also, would I be able to receive my entire Social Security benefit if I switched to FERS? Read the rest of this entry »

Deferred annuity

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Q. I worked as a full-time carrier from 1988-1996. I recently heard that I am vested and will receive some money when I’m in my 60s. Is that true? I also had almost 8 years of sick leave saved up. Does that count for anything? I know that some federal agencies receive medical insurance if they paid for it for 5 years — Is the USPS one of those agencies? Read the rest of this entry »

Retirement annuity

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Q. My husband is already retired from the federal government under CSRS and receives a monthly annuity. He did not buy back his military time before retiring. He retired with 24 years under the Federal Law Enforcement Retirement System; he had two years and eight months active military — for a total of 27 years. Will he suffer any penalties in the future for this? Or will his retirement annuity be reduced when he is 62 years of age? He is 60 years old right now. Read the rest of this entry »

VERA vs. VSIP

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Q. My agency sent out applications to apply for VERA/VSIP. I am 57 years old (MRA is 56). I have a almost 34 years creditable service. With my sick leave it will be almost 35 years. Will I be VERA or VSIP? Is one better than the other, or do I even have a choice? Read the rest of this entry »

Retirement options

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Q. I am 28 years old and trying to understand my retirement options. I currently have six years of civilian and military time combined. I would hit 30 years at 52. Under FERS would I be allowed to retire with full pension payments at that age, or do I have to wait until I am 55, 56 or 62? I have heard each of these answers. If I wait until I am 56 with 33 years, could I receive payments then or have to wait until I am 62? Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

Leave without pay

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Q. How much leave without pay in a calendar year can a United States Postal Service employee use without affecting the time going to their retirement? Read the rest of this entry »

Withdrawn CSRS contributions

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Q. I left government service in 1995 and withdrew all of my CSRS contributions so I could start a business. I have never returned to federal service. I had over 15 years service including my military service time. Even though I withdrew my contributions, do I still have any pension available to me? Also, is it possible at this point to repay those contributions? I am now age 68. Read the rest of this entry »

Social Security benefit

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Q. My husband is a CSRS retiree with 34 years of service, he also has enough credits to qualify for his own Social Security. I am a FERS employee retiring this year with 33 years of service. We are both GS-15 retirees. Obviously, my Social Security is much higher than his. Would it matter if he files for Social Security under himself or under my benefits? Or will the offset be equivalent? Read the rest of this entry »