Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Leaving federal service

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Q. I am a federal employee (FERS employee from January 1988 to the present) who will likely be leaving federal employment for a private sector position in a different city. What happens to the following:
1. Can I either leave my money in the TSP account or roll it over; in any case, I am not touching the balance until I retire.
2. Am I correct that my retirement annuity freezes until I actually retire and that it would be based on the following calculation — years of service (.26) x the average of the high-3 annual salary?
3. Do I get a lump sum payout for annual leave?
4. Can I get my sick leave back if I return to federal service?
5. I know health care terminates after 30 days. But am I eligible to get any Federal health care after I retire from the private sector?


A.
1. You may, and probably should, maintain your TSP for life. Later, when you leave private sector employment, you may, and probably should, move your retirement plan balance(s) to the TSP account and manage it there. — Mike Miles
2. Yes, your retirement benefit calculation would be frozen on the day you left. Because you have at least 20 years of service, you could apply for an unreduced annuity at age 60.
3. Yes.
4. Yes.
5. In addition to the 31-days of premium free coverage, you could continue that enrollment under the temporary continuation of coverage provision for up to 18 months by paying the entire premium plus 2 percent. You wouldn’t be able to reenroll in the FEHB program unless you returned to federal service.

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