Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Annual leave

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Q. When I ETS from the Army, I was allowed 30 days of terminal leave with the remainder of unused  annual leave a forced buyout. I had been unable to take leave due to the needs of the Army.

Because of that I lost almost a month of BAH, specialty pay, etc.

I was told at that time the federal government cannot force more than one buyout of unused annual leave during your federal career.

I am resigning from civilian federal service with a deferred retirement. Can they once again force a buyout of unused annual leave? Can they not allow me to take terminal leave?

A. No, they can’t. The comptroller general of the United States has ruled that federal civilian employees may not take terminal leave.

 

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Conditions of new federal position

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Q. I worked from 4/1987 through 8/1998 as an Architect/Engineer SR with the USPS. I resigned with a good record. I have a form 50 that states my service which I submitted when I applied. I recently was hired to a new position.

I cannot get a clear understanding about my retirement, my vesting and if I have a probationary period and how long it is. I was not reinstated. I was FERS, and I never took my basic .8 contribution out. I did transfer my Thrift Savings Plan to a private brokerage account. They used the .8 to continue my FERS plus gave me the service time as far as leave goes (six hours/pay period).

1. How is my retirement calculated? What age can I retire? I am 57 now.

2. How long before I can be considered a vested federal employee with competitive rights to apply for another position?

3. How much service time do I have according to the VA? My personnel record has it like I am starting over.

4. Do I have a probationary period, and how long is it? Read the rest of this entry »

Retirement at 30 years

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Q. I just received my 30-year pin for government service time worked as a FERS employee. I’ve been considering relocating to Florida and can’t find a government job. If I took a job at a town hall in Florida, would I be able to resign from my current government job and have them keep all my retirement and Thrift Savings Plan on ice until I would have been eligible to retire at age 56 without penalty? If so, would I also be eligible at age 56 for the special retirement supplement, even if I were working for the town, or would I have to retire from the town job to be eligible for the supplement?

The only reason I ask is that after seeing your answer to someone else’s similar question (they only had 20 years vested), part of your answer was: “The only way to reduce or avoid the reduction would be to retire and postpone the receipt of your annuity until a later date.”

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Postponing, deferring and unused sick leave

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Q. I intend to retire from government civilian service at age 60 under MRA + 10. At the time of my retirement, I will have 15 years of service. Accordingly, as I understand it, I will be eligible to defer or postpone my retirement annuity until age 62, thereby bypassing the age reduction penalty. Would I lose any of my accumulated sick hours (currently 1,200 hours) under either the deferred or postponed retirement programs?

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Retirement or resignation?

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Q. I have reached my MRA+10, and I am considering retiring. Since I am 60, I would like to postpone receipt of my annuity until 62 to avoid the age reduction. I have been told by my servicing HR department, which is not in my agency, that I must resign my position.

I have read the FERS handbook and noted that it recommends one not resign since it could affect survivor benefits should I die before applying for the annuity. Also, I read that the HR department must fill out the SF 3100 and add a remark “Appears to be eligible for immediate MRA+10 retirement annuity.” Also, a remark should be added to indicate if the employee appears to be eligible to continue Federal Employees Health Benefits and Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance coverage.

I would like to pick up my FEGLI when I begin my annuity at 62. My husband is a federal employee and pays for my FEHB and LTC insurance. The HR department seems unwilling to assist me and is just telling me to resign and submit the RI 92-19 60 days before the date I choose to receive the annuity. What is the correct way to separate from federal service in this instance? If it is retirement and not resignation, how does one separate without resigning? Do you have any suggestions on how to get the HR department to assist?

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Deferred retirement vs. disability retirement

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Q. I am a 51-year old FERS employee with 28 years of service. Because of my declining health, I plan to resign and take a deferred retirement. With more than 20 years of service under FERS, I can begin receiving a deferred annuity at age 60. Can I receive a reduced annuity at age 56, my minimum retirement age? If so, will the reduction be 20 percent or 30 percent? In other words, will I be penalized 20 percent (5 percent per year for four years) between the ages of 56 and 60, or 30 percent for the six years between the ages of 56 and 62?

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Applying for retirement

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Q. Do I have to be on active federal service to apply for retirement?  In other words, can I resign from my current GS job, not work and check the “retired scene” for a month or two (i.e. take a break), then apply for retirement if I so desire, but keep the option not to retire and apply instead for another job if I find not working to be boring?

And if my decision is to go ahead and retire, are there special requirements? How do I apply for retirement if/when I am not on current register?

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Creditable service for state time

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Q. I worked for the Postal Service for 12 years and then resigned in 2005. If I had stayed, I would have had 20 years in this past August. After getting a state job, is there any way that I could use my years of federal service in conjunction with my state time toward retirement (early, etc.)?

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VSIP and health insurance

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Q. I am 52 years old, 25 years in FERS, potentially being offered a Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay. If I do the VSIP, I will be employable at my current salary outside the government.

If I take the VSIP, can I carry my Federal Employees Health Benefits into retirement if I pay for it?

Can I delay collecting my retirement until age 62 and carry my FEHB through to retirement?

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Refund of military service deposit

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Q. If I have repaid my military service deposit but then resign from federal service, can I request a refund of the military service deposit? Also, if my agency is offering Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay, does the military service deposit count toward the VSIP buyout?

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Resignation

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 Q. Whom do I talk to about resigning, and how long does it take to get your lump-sum payment from accrued leave after resigning?

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6(c) retirement

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Q. I was employed 19 years as a law enforcement officer in a 6(c) position under FERS. My agency closed my post of duty and attempted to locate me some 300 miles away. It should be noted that the agency and agents had a mobility agreement in place. Due to family issues, I resigned. After a couple of years, I returned to an LEO position. However, it is not designated as a 6(c) position. I am getting ready to retire. Because of the closing of my duty station, and a relocation outside my commuting area, am I still entitled to 19 years of 6(c) retirement benefits? Also, is AUO computed into the high-3?

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Re-employment

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Q. I am a former federal employee seeking reinstatement. I worked full time for seven years (1990-1997), then worked part time for another two years. During this period, I initially worked 32 hours per week, then cut back to 20 hours per week. I resigned in 1999 to become a full-time parent. At the time I resigned, I was GS-14, Step 3. I had been at the GS-14 level for one year, but part of that time was part time and part was leave without pay after the birth of a child. When calculating years of federal service, is it based on full-time employment? Am I eligible for employment at the GS-14 level, or should I be applying for jobs at the GS-13 level? I was a GS-13 for several years before being promoted.

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FEHB coverage

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Q. My wife is 65 and is retiring under FERS from federal service at age 66 (in one month). I resigned under FERS two years and three months ago while not old enough for Medicare but was self-employed for the past two years, now employed by a nongovernment contractor.

I had Federal Employees Health Benefits coverage separate from my wife’s FEHB coverage while employed in federal government service. My wife had her own coverage until I quit federal employment, then she started FEHB family coverage to cover both of us. She had Medicare coverage simultaneously for part of the last year because she was required to apply for Medicare benefits at age 65 and she was not sure of how to keep my coverage so we doubled up temporarily.

In a retirement seminar, my wife was told to stay with her FEHB plan when retiring because of better coverage for her extensive medical needs than a Medicare plan would give. Will I be covered as a spouse under her plan while my wife is retiring and be covered into her retirement without being dropped? I have had continual FEHB coverage for over 20 years, including the past two years in the family plan and the previous 20 in a single plan.

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Annuity eligibility

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Q. I have worked for the Postal Service for nearly 15 years. If I resign and go work for the state of California, will I be able to claim annuity when I am old enough to retire? I am 42. Will I lose the time I spent with the Postal Service, or will I be able to get both federal and state retirement?

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Deferred retirement

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Q. I am a military reservist with more than 20 reserve and 17 active years. I was hired into GS about six months ago. I have calculated my military buyback and am prepared to buy it back (roughly $18,000). My breakeven is about 17 months after I retire at age 62 for the $18,000. So it is definitely worth it.

I am considering going back to the private sector, where I should make at a minimum 1½ to two times what I make as a GS employee (I work in the IT field). I have crunched the numbers and the difference at age 62 between retiring with a 17-year deferred GS retirement vs. working as GS until age 62 and getting a 31-year retirement doesn’t even come close to the income that I am missing out on in the civilian sector.

If I put the salary difference in the bank and just drew the difference between the two retirements out every month after 62, I would have to live to be 100 to break even.

1. Is there a minimum time you must be in a GS position to receive a deferred retirement at age 62, or does the 17-year buyback cover me for the five-year minimum requirement?

2. If I were to resign with less than one year of actual GS service, but 17+ with the buyback, how do they calculate the high-3?

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Re-employment

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Q. I worked for the federal government as a civil servant from 1984 to 1989, when I resigned as a GS-13 to take a private-sector job. I am now considering a return to government service at the same grade/level as when I left.

1. Will the five years I worked previously be credited toward my retirement (anticipated in 2018) for a total of 10 years of service? I was under FERS for my previous five-year employment.

2. Will my vacation be reinstated at the same rate (hours per pay period) as when I left federal service?  I believe I was accruing vacation at an annual rate of 20 days a year?

3. When I left, I had 50 to 60 days of unused sick leave. Does that get reinstated?

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Retirement withdrawal

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Q. I am 31 years old and have been employed by the Veterans Affairs Department under FERS for the past 10 years and 10 months. I resigned from my position because I unexpectedly had my third child and, for a few months, I was told I could drop down to part time. Then I was told that was no longer possible two months before the start of my maternity leave. Since cutting down my hours was no longer an option, I had to resign, and submitted the paperwork to withdraw my retirement. It took three months of waiting, and over a month of daily calls to the Office of Personnel Management before finally getting a call back about my refund to find out I’m not getting any of the portion that the government has paid into it. Is there anything I can do about this?

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Law enforcement retirement

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 Q. I resigned from a federal Series 1811 law enforcement officer position several years ago. The resignation from federal employment was prior to obtaining 20 years of service and while I was younger than 50. The mandatory retirement age for my position is 57.

At what point can I apply for the deferred annuity payment, and will that payment be reduced by 5 percent for each year that I am younger than 57? Also, how do I apply for the annuity? Whom do I contact — the Office of Personnel Management? My agency? And will I need to supply any type of documentation regarding my employment (SF-50, etc.)?

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Resignation vs. optional retirement vs. early retirement

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Q. What is the difference between retiring by resigning, optional or early? Particularly, the number of years associated with each?

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