Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Resigning during furlough

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Q. I am a GS-15 with eight years of service. My entire office (including my senior manager) is on furlough. After the start of the furlough, I was offered and accepted a position in the private sector. My new employer understands the holding pattern federal employees are in and is being flexible on my start date in the new position. How do I resign during the furlough? Whom do I contact if I am prohibited from using my access to my federal information technology resources? Is there any advantage to waiting until the end of the furlough?

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Shutdown and retirement pay

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Q. My Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay was approved with an effective date of Sept. 7. My retirement packet was received at Fort Riley on Sept. 17. I have not received any money for VSIP, annual leave or retirement due to the furlough. Will any of this money be paid during the shutdown, or will I have to wait until the new appropriation is approved?

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Retiring during furlough

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Q. I am a CSRS-covered furloughed federal employee with 43 years of federal service. May I submit retirement papers during a furlough? Will the papers be processed after the shutdown ends?

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File for unemployment during furlough?

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Q. When a fed is furloughed, may we file for unemployment benefits? Does this jeopardize possible reimbursement by the government like in 1995 when they returned to work?

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Furlough, re-employment and annuity computation

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Q. I am a re-employed FERS annuitant. My salary is being offset for my annuity. I need five years to be eligible for recomputation. Will being furloughed as a nonessential employee interrupt my five years?

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Buyout options

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Q. I am a 66-year-old federal employee with 24 years of service whose office is offering buyouts to fix furlough woes we are experiencing. I am healthy and, while I would love to be able to retire, I am uncertain. We are being told if we take the buyout, we can get unemployment benefits and COBRA coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefits plan. Would this be a smart move for me?

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VERA/VSIP

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Q. If I submit my application for Voluntary Early Retirement Authority/Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay and my VSIP incentive is denied, will I be forced to retire/resign? I have 24+ years and am over 58 years of age. My position is “overhire,” and we are undergoing furlough with very likely RIF.

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Furloughs and Jan. 3 retirement

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Q. I have heard that for CSRS employees who retire effective Jan. 3, 2014, my retirement pay will not be affected by the furlough, but if I retire anytime after Jan. 3, 2014, my pay will be 2 percent less.

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Furlough exemptions

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Q. I have been told by some people that because they retired before the end of the fiscal year (Sept. 30), they were exempt from the furlough which is due to begin July 8 and go through the 30th. Can you verify this information?

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Furlough and impending retirement

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Q. Can federal GS workers be furloughed if they are within four months of retirement?

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Furlough and mandatory retirement age

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Q. If I am sequestered and removed from my position for one day every two weeks, will that affect my mandatory retirement date as a law enforcement officer in the Bureau of Prisons? It would seem to me that if 57 years of age is the issue, then by removal of 26 duty days per year, I should be extended 26 days past my mandatory retirement date. Also, I will be 26 days short of satisfying my year of service, so my anniversary date for service or entrance on duty date becomes flexible and will be moving forward away from my established date.

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Furloughs and remaining sick leave

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Q. I will be retiring Aug. 3 with 33 years and 11 months of CSRS employment. I have four months of sick leave plus a few days. My service computation date is Sept. 4, so I know I have to leave additional sick leave days to make a full month. I will be furloughed every Friday the last month I work (four furlough days). Will the remaining sick leave days be needed to replace furlough days in retirement calculations? Or are furlough days considered workdays (without pay) in retirement calculations?

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Furlough and term employees and re-employed annuitants

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Q. What we here in Japan would like to know is when furlough notices kick in May 28 to June 5 and furloughs tentatively to begin July 8, what’s going happen to term/temp employees and more specifically re-employed annuitants?

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Sequestration and high-3

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Q. I am a Defense Department employee with 39 years of service under CSRS.

How will sequestration, specifically the potential for 20 percent reduction in pay, affect calculation of my high-3? Will it be based on my salary per the GS tables or actual pay? If it is on actual pay, it seems as though it would be better for me to retire now rather than later.

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Furlough days and budget changes

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Q. My office is requiring four furlough days in response to sequestration with the option to take all four days at once by August. If I do so, and our budget suddenly changes positively (unexpected retirements, transfers, etc.) prior to those days, would I still be required to take these days solely on being fair to other employees who have already taken their days?

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Leave without pay to complete college

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Q. Since the federal government is in sequestration and I am looking at five to seven days of furlough during the summer, I would like to finish my college education, which would be one year of leave without pay from federal service. Is LWOP allowed for this with the federal government, and what type of separation is this referred to as? Can I collect unemployment benefits due to this type of separation? I am a GS-5 with 4½  years of employment with the federal government.

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14-day furlough, leave and service computation date

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Q. If an employee is furloughed 14 days, will he or she lose annual leave time or sick leave time, or will it be as though they worked those days (hours) and were never furloughed. If an employee is furloughed 14 days, will he or she lose retirement time (i.e. will their retirement anniversary date change?)

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Best date to retire

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Q. I am a CSRS employee with the Federal Aviation Administration and wanted to be clear about choosing an optimized “date of final separation” on my CSRS SF2801 (date in Block 2 of Section B).

The date I’ve tentatively entered is May 3, which is the second Friday of Pay Period 10. My last scheduled day of work in that pay period is Thursday, May 2, with Friday and Saturday being regular days off.

In that scenario, the federal retirement benefits calculator indicates my “annuity start date” is May 4. When could I reasonably expect my first annuity payment? I was under the impression I could expect one around the first business day of June in this scenario. Is that correct?

If not, is it necessary to change my fate of final separation to an earlier date, and what date would be the latest to receive annuity payment in the beginning of June?

In my present scenario, would I get credit for the leave earned in that last pay period I worked (Pay Period 10)?

Is there anything else significant I should be aware of about selecting this date?  How might a furlough day in that Pay Period 10 affect me?

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Furlough and leave accrual

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Q. Will sick and annual leave accrual rates be affected by the furlough? For example, if we were furloughed two days per pay period, would we accrue only 3.2 hours of sick leave per pay period?

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Furloughs vs. buyouts

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Q. Can someone explain why furloughing workers would be the first step to save money? I would think  buyouts would be first. There are thousands of CSRS employees just waiting for a buyout; why aren’t they being offered?

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