By Reg Jones
February 21st, 2014 | Benefits Creditable service: FERS DOWNSIZING Earnings test FERS annuity computation High-3 PAY RETIREMENT service computation date SOCIAL SECURITY Special retirement supplement VERA
Q. I am a FERS employee working for the Department of Agriculture. I have been offered a job outside of the government and am trying to see the pros and cons of leaving. I am a FERS employee with a service computation date of Aug. 17, 1986, and am 46 years old. If I apply for Voluntary Early Retirement Authority, what would the disadvantages or advantages be?
Q. I retired on a Voluntary Early Retirement Authority in January 2013. I turned 56 on Feb. 6. I understand I am eligible for the special retirement supplement. Do I need to notify/contact someone to get this processed? How long before I start receiving this benefit?
Q. My agency is offering Voluntary Early Retirement Authority/Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay. I have been approved for both. However, I have become disabled (chemo damaged my nerves, resulting in severe peripheral neuropathy). I thought I could leave via the early-out option for much needed relief and rest, then file for my federal disability.
My human resources department advised that, per the Office of Personnel Management, if I take the VERA, I cannot file for disability later, e.g. within one year.
I consulted with a lawyer, who specializes in federal disability retirement, and he advised that he has many clients who took the VERA option and later filed for disability within the one year.
Q. I am CSRS with 33 years of service at age 52. I am considering a Voluntary Early Retirement Authority offer and understand the annuity is reduced 2 percent for each year under age 55. Is this a one-time annuity reduction at time of retirement, or is the reduction computed every year against the inflation-adjusted annuity?
Q. How does the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority work for cost-of-living adjustments and Social Security?
Hypothetical situation: Person retires at age 52 years old with 30 years as a FERS civilian in 2014. S/he does not get any COLAs until age 62 in 2024. If this person’s annuity is $2,000 a month, then their annuity remains the same until age 62. Would his/her annuity be readjusted with COLAs to the year 2024? If the person’s minimum retirement age is 56 in 2018, would COLAs kick in and his annuity be readjusted?
Q. I have worked for the Postal Service since 1985. I did not reach career status until January 1994, when I became postmaster in my Level 11 office, so the 8½ years prior do not count, unfortunately. I have worked here my entire career. In September, it will be reduced to a Level 2 and I will not be allowed to stay. I would like to take the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority being offered. Will I be penalized the customary 5 percent per year under 30 years? I am 55 and, as of Jan. 22, have 20 years of career service (this excludes my work prior to 1994). Also, will I be able to take advantage of the special retirement supplement?
Q. Would I be penalized if I am a FERS employee, 49 years old with 26 years of government service. I just got a GS-11 job, so I do not have a high-3 at that level. My high-3 is at the GS-7. My job is offering the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority/Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay. Can I go out with no penalties?
Q. I am 55-year-old postal employee with 27 years of postal service. I have read that a Voluntary Early Retirement Authority will be offered to eligible employees. Would I be eligible for the special retirement supplement? I also have an Equal Employment Opportunity case that has not been adjudicated, how would this affect my case? Would it still go forward?
Q. Is there always a reduction in force after a Voluntary Early Retirement Authority/Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay?
Q. I began working for the Defense Department in 1981. In 1993, I took a Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay. I received severance pay at that time. I came back to work in 1998. My adjusted service computation date is 1987. I have 26 years with DoD, and I am 52. If a Voluntary Early Retirement Authority is offered and I apply, provided I am approved, would I receive severance pay minus the amount I received in 1993 or none at all?
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?
Q. I retired under a Voluntary Early Retirement Authority in January 2009. I was also approved for Social Security disability in 2008. I’ve had 22 years under FERS, and I’m now 58. Should I have been receiving the special retirement supplement since I never applied for FERS disability?
Q. I have eight years and six months working for the federal government, but I am 64 years old. No CSRS time, only FERS. Am I eligible to participate in the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority/Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay, if one is offered and would I be able to carry over my health care benefits?
Q. If I retire at age 54 with 31 years of service under FERS, am I subject to the age penalty? Would I be subject to the same penalty if I were to retire at age 56 with 33 years of service. My minimum retirement age is 56.
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?
Q. I am a GS-15 in the Department of the Air Force in San Antonio. My parent office in D.C. is relocating all field representatives (there are nine of us) back to the National Capital Region. I am 57½ years old and have more than 13 years of service. I know I am always eligible for MRA + 10 retirement, but do I have other options? If I can retire and not lose the 5 percent per year, I would seriously consider this. There is also a Voluntary Early Retirement Authority window still open to me, I believe.
Q. I’m 51 years old with 26 years of service and would like to retire because of health conditions. I’ve heard some activities are getting offered Voluntary Early Retirement Authority but haven’t heard anything from my own activity. How can I get offered a VERA? Can I apply for it somewhere? Is there a list of activities that are currently offering VERA?
Q. I am a postmaster under FERS. I have 30 years of service and will be 53 years and 11 months old when I receive separation notice in September. All my research suggests I will be able to retire under discontinued service retirement. It seems illogical the Postal Service would offer a VERA eight months before that. It seems to suggest that an obscure fact will be revealed then that will disqualify myself and others from DSR. How could I protect myself in that event?
Q. Is there any talk of extending the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority? I understand it expired Dec. 31. I will hit minimum retirement age in two years, and am hoping for a VERA at that time, as I cannot afford to retire before I get my special retirement supplement, and I know I cannot qualify for that until I hit MRA.
Q. I am 59 years old with 29 years of service. I received my Voluntary Early Retirement Authority package. I would like to take the offer. However, I have received conflicting answers when I call human resources. My minimum retirement age is 56. I understand that I will be eligible for the special retirement supplement under the “age 50 with 20 years” or “any age with 25 years.” Do I understand this correctly?