Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Did I just lose nine years of credit?

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Q. I recently made a lateral move from one federal law enforcement agency to another, after about four years with my former agency. I moved from one FERS-covered position to another. On my leave and earnings statement, my military service credit purchase/payment, which I paid in a lump sum about five years ago, has disappeared, and my cumulative FERS retirement funds reset to zero. I contacted the Office of Personnel Management, which instructed me that my former agency should have forwarded my “account” to OPM for maintenance, and that I would receive a letter stating the account was in maintenance with OPM at some point in the future. Should I be worried? What can I do to make sure I didn’t just lose nine years of credit when retirement rolls around?

A. I wouldn’t be worried. However, I’d be prudent. Go back to your former agency and alert them to what they failed to do and press them to correct their error, if possible. Also, let your current agency know what you learned from OPM and what you are doing to correct the error.

Comments

  1. Gene Luscinski Says:
    April 5th, 2013 at 9:53 am

    I am losing $190,000 in retirement because of the Catch 62 provision. I was an air traffic controller and was guaranteed 50% at retirement. Everything I ever read said that at age 62 I would lose my military credit. I took it it mean that they would take away the 4% extra $180/mo I was getting for military service. It is 600% more. The way that OPM computes the Catch 62, it basically takes me back to 10 years ago. I lose 9 years of Cola raises. It is really a horrible thing to realize. I was told for years that I was guaranteed 50% at retirement 2003. I had 21 years as a controller. They do not compute it from 2003 but as if I just retired in 2013. I took the fact that the OPM sf2801 form did not mention air traffic controllers that the new computation did not apply to me. The catch 62 provision will take back every cent that they paid me in the past 10 years and cost me an additional 200,000 to 300,000 in the next 21 years. I went to two retirement seminars and they mentioned nothing of this. I realized when I received my adjusted annuity that I basically had absolutely no choice. Had the FAA or OPM given me any indication that the resulting annuity reduction would have been so severe, I would have had to pay it back. I had 6 years military and it put me just over 28 years. My guaranteed 50% put me just shy of 27 years by itself. Had I had no military service I would be making $9094 more a year. My payback 2003 was $16,784.

  2. Marie Says:
    April 5th, 2013 at 10:09 am

    I am a FERS employee and have changed agencies a couple of times. I have never had an issue with OPM correctly tracking my FERS contributions or years of service. You can verify the numbers are correct when your annual benefits statement is issued. That should reflect the correct service computation date. Your new agency earnings and leave statement will never reflect your previous FERS contributions. When you move to a new agency, only the payroll information from that agency is reflected, even if you continue in the same payroll system, such as NFC. You should make sure you maintain the last earnings and leave statement from your previous agency(s).

  3. Pat Says:
    April 5th, 2013 at 10:32 pm

    Marie, what is this Yearly Benefits Statement of which you speak. I had 36 years in DOD and never received one. Now my FERS annuity is short by 2%, which represents 2 years of active duty for which I paid a deposit. I have asked OPM to correct this for over 4 months, and have never even received an acknowledgement of my email (just an automated reply). Gene – don’t trust OPM to maintain correct records – be sure to keep a copy of everything.