By Reg Jones
Q. I am a federal law enforcement officer with 17 years employment with the U.S. District Court. With the economy on the decline, I have serious concerns that staff who earn a significant salary will be forced to retire before their 57th birthday to save the district money. Is forced retirement legal? Can an employee be forced to leave before their mandatory age? Can they be forced out once they reach 20 years of service even if it’s long before the mandatory age?
Q. Are there any rules mandating an agency to shed service contractors prior to implementing a reduction in force of onboard government employees?
Q. If involuntary separated (reduction in force) from civil service with 10 years of service and 56 years old (minimum retirement age eligible), am I forced to file retirement under MRA with 30 percent penalty and draw no severance pay, or can I collect severance and MRA retirement with penalty?
Q. I have 26 years of service (FERS) and am 51 years old in the Defense Department. I am told that a reduction in force is coming. I understand that if I am RIF’ed, it is the same result as a Voluntary Early Retirement Authority without the Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay. Since my organization is not offering VERA/VSIP, can I volunteer to take the RIF?
Q. I am a new civil employee. I received an early-out due to force reduction. I am a 50 percent disability veteran I paid the severance pay to the Veterans Affairs Department before I could receive compensation. Now I want buy back my military time toward federal retirement. Is the severance pay included in my total earnings during my active duty? If so, is severance pay deducted from the amount to buy back time, since it was paid to the VA?
Q. I am 57, have worked for the Postal Service for 26 years, qualified for minimum retirement age last July. What circumstances for retirement would entitle me to the special retirement supplement to be paid until I am age 62? In September 2014, my office hours will be reduced to six per day and my wages will be cut. Will I be offered a reduction in force so I can retire with a supplement at that time? Or will I just have to take a cut in pay and a cut in hours and not be considered a postmaster anymore?
Q. I am a career conditional GS employee who can buy back more than 10 years of military time for FERS. I just learned you have to have five years to be vested in FERS and that this five years has to civil service. If I buy back my time and I am RIF’d prior to completing the five years, what happens to the money I paid in since I will not be eligible for FERS?
Q. If a base is closed due to BRAC, what are the early retirement options?
Q. I am a FERS employee with 28 years of service and have met my minimum retirement age. I will not be eligible for full retirement for another two years when I am 60 and have 30 years of service. If I am offered a Voluntary Early Retirement Authority/Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay (I work for the Army), will I get an annuity reduction if the offer is not a reduction in force?
Q. I am in FERS, born June 20, 1953, with a service computation date of Nov. 6, 1983, and eligible to retire June 19. I just saw where my position is going to be a part of the reduction in force. If the RIF happens before my retirement date, will I still get my special retirement supplement? Would I get a buyout?
Q. If a reduction in force occurs, do they consider the time you are in your current position, total time at the agency or total federal time when considering who has seniority? I am in a position for less time than one of my peers, but I have been at the agency longer and have a 30 percent service-connected disability.
Q. My command is being abolished and moved to Texas. Since I am unable to find a position in the local commuting area, I will receive a reduction-in-force notice. I am retirement-eligible but want to keep working. Can I apply for state unemployment benefits, look for a job and still receive my retirement?
Q. I was hired as a term employee Dec. 18, 2006, and am now being laid off along with 370 more term employees. I called FERS and they said because of my age, I keep my health insurance and life insurance. The qualifications were five years of service and having FERS, which I do, but I was wondering if that applies to term or temp employees also. I have worked for the Anniston Army Depot, Ala., for six years and three months. The depot is processing us out this week. My birth date is Jan. 5, 1951.
February 16th, 2012 | Reductions in force
Q: My activity is offering VSIP/VERA. I am 56 and have 22 years in service under FERS. Do I get the 5-percent penalty if I accept the offer? Am I allowed to withdraw monthly on my TSP? Can I receive the Social Security supplement?
A: You won’t be penalized for being under age 62 if you are approved for early retirement. And, because you were born between 1953 and 1964, you’ll be eligible to receive the special retirement supplement.
February 15th, 2012 | Reductions in force
Q: Our base is about to undergo a Reduction in Force. I retired from the Air force Reserve and I’m a retired civil service employee due to the fact I was in the Air Force Technician Program. When I turned 60, I was forced to retire. I am receiving an annuity and have been re-employed. Would my service computation date still help me keep my job, or would I end up at the bottom of the list since I am a re-employed, rehired annuitant?
A: As a re-employed annuitant, you are an “at will” employee. This means you can be released at any time and for any reason. Your service computation date wouldn’t protect you because, as a re-employed annuitant, you would have the lowest retention standing.
Q: It looks like our agency is going to offer buyouts/early outs. I know I would have to pay back the buyout pay if I go back to work for the federal government within five years. Does this restriction apply to quasi-governmental entities such as the Federal Reserve and the bank regulatory agencies that are funded by the regulated community?
A: The restriction applies to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve and the FDIC because they are federal agencies. Federal Reserve banks aren’t.
December 22nd, 2011 | Reductions in force
Q: I live in Minneapolis but for the past few years have worked in Madison, Wis. I rent a room during the week and return home to Minneapolis on weekends. My agency is going through a reduction in force. Will my Interagency Career Transition Assistance Plan eligibility apply to my home area of Minneapolis, my office location in Madison, or both?
A: Your position of record will determine your competitive area for RIF purposes. If your permanent location is Madison, that’s where your eligibility will be. If it’s in Minneapolis and you are either on temporary duty or some other kind of temporary assignment, it will be in Minneapolis.
Tags: Position of record
December 7th, 2011 | Reductions in force
Q: The CPAC people at my organization are unhelpful and
unknowledgable. My SF-50 does not reflect my 70 percent disability for
veterans preference for a reduction in force. I have brought the
paperwork in but was told I was not hired under veterans preference and
don’t qualify because I retired with more than 20 years from the Army. They say if I had not retired, then I would be eligible, but refuse to give me the source of that rule.
A: Based on what you’ve written, your agency is probably right. You’ll find the information needed to confirm or rebut their decision at www.opm.gov/staffing/Portal/vetguide.asp#2Why.
December 5th, 2011 | Reductions in force
Q: The U.S. Postal Service wants to lay off senior employees first. I thought in a layoff situation the junior employees are removed first.
Can they do that if you are a federal civil employee? Will I have the option to retire first before they do this? I have 32 years of service and I don’t want to lose those precious years and my pension. The postal service is saying it’s in dire straits, but they are still hiring people at headquarters and the plants. How and Why is it doing this if it’s so broke? What should I do?
A: Reductions-in-force are designed to reduce the number of employees needed at certain levels and/or in specific occupations. RIFs can be agency wide or targeted at specific geographic locations. Bump and retreat rights to other positions are based on several factors, including: veterans preference, seniority and performance ratings. If you are given a specific RIF notice and have the combination of age and service needed for immediate or early retirement, you can retire.
Tags: Postal Service
October 11th, 2011 | Reductions in force
Q: Our organization announced it was approved for a VERA/VSIP. I applied for the VERA and was told that the agency would not offer the buyout with the VERA, due to funding constraints. I was under the impression that if the VERA/VSIP was offered, a buyout automatically came with the VERA. Am I mistaken?
A: Yes, you are mistaken. The Voluntary Early Retirement Authority is a broad-based tool that allows those who have the years and service to qualify for early retirement to do so. The Voluntary Separation Incentives Payments program is more narrowly focused. It’s designed to encourage employees who are in surplus positions or have skills that are no longer needed in the workforce to separate by resignation, optional retirement, or by voluntary early retirement. It’s goal is to get employees to leave who would be unlikely to do so without the cash payment.