Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Possible re-employment

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Q. Can a GS retired employee work for a Morale, Welfare and Recreation organization or other government agency?

A. There is nothing that would prevent a retired government employee from working again, either in or out of government. However, if you return to work for the federal government, as a rule the salary of your new position would be reduced by the amount of your annuity. You’d need to check with your potential employer to learn if that rule would affect you.

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Re-employment ramifications

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Q. I retired three years ago under FERS. I am considering applying for another position with the federal government. Will I forfeit any pay or retirement if I am rehired?

A. As a rule, the salary of your new position would be offset by the amount of your annuity.

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Eligibility to receive benefits

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Q. I worked for the post office for 23 years under FERS and resigned at the age of 48 to work in the private sector. I am 53 and would like to know when I would be eligible to receive retirement benefits. Also, I worked for four years with the state government. Would those years count towards retirement?

A. If you didn’t receive a refund of your retirement contributions when you left, you’d be eligible for a deferred annuity at age 62. That annuity would be based solely on your years of FERS service.

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High-3 calculation

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Q. I have been a federal employee for Homeland Security for 6-1/2 years. I have been medically disqualified from my job. I am going to try to get disability. I have worked full time for the first 4-1/2 years, and went part-time down to 25 to 30 hours a week. Will they use the highest three salaries, even if when discharged I was working part-time for the agency? How does the calculation work for this situation?

A. An employee’s full-time salaries are used in determining his high-3, even if he is in a part-time position.

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Re-employed annuitant benefits

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Q. I retired in January as a CSRS annuitant after 32 years of service with the Navy and Marine Corps. I am considering returning to the Navy as a re-employed annuitant. In accordance with DoD policy, I understand that I will be able to draw my full salary and my full annuity without a waiver from OPM. I believe Social Security taxes will be withheld, and I cannot make CSRS contributions if I draw both a pension and full salary. Will I be able to contribute to TSP? Will I accrue annual leave and sick leave? If so, how many hours of leave will I accrue? Will my FEHB premiums be withheld from my salary, or continue to be withheld from my annuity? Will I be able to have a FSA health savings plan? Read the rest of this entry »

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Refund of contributions

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Q. I went to work for the federal government in 1974 under CSRS and worked until 1984, when I resigned and drew my retirement out. I returned to federal service in 2007 under FERS. I will have 20 years service counting military next May 4th. How will drawing my retirement out affect my retirement check?

A. Although you got a refund of your retirement contributions before October 1, 1991, you’ll still get credit for that time in determining your length of service; however, your annuity will be actuarially reduced based on the amount you owe, including accrued interest, and your age on the day you retire.

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FERS supplement

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Q. I retired from federal service in February 2010 under the FERS Special system and my MRA is Febuary 2016. I understand that if I work after February 2016, my FERS supplement will be means tested against how much I am making in salary. If I work after my MRA, making 150K for only two years and therefore lose my supplement during that time frame, would the supplement restart after I worked those two years, and would the supplement stay at the same amount as when I retired in February 2010? Read the rest of this entry »

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Waiting for Social Security

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Q. I am 60 and retired three years ago under CSRS with the post office. Will my annuity be reduced if I do not claim Social Security benefits at 62? I want to wait until I am 65 to claim Social Security. I worked nine years under Social Security when I was younger.

A. Because you retired under CSRS – not CSRS Offset – your CSRS annuity will never be reduced. If you are eligible for a Social Security benefit, the fact that you retired from a retirement system where you didn’t pay Social Security taxes means that your Social Security benefit will be subject to the windfall elimination provision. The WEP reduces the Social Security benefit of anyone who has fewer than 30 years of substantial earnings under Social Security. Note: If you only have nine years of coverage under Social Security, you won’t be eligible for a Social Security benefit. You have to have 10 years – 40 credits – to receive that benefit.

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Prior LEO service

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Q. I worked for 10 years and five months under CSRS prior to moving to a law-enforcement covered position. How will the first 10 years be calculated with the 21 years as a LEO?

A. All time beyond 20 years of covered service will be computed using the standard formula, not the enhanced one for LEOs.

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Credit for part-time hours

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Q. I am a CSRS employee with a period of “post-April 6, 1986” part-time service of about 10 years. During that time, I occasionally worked hours above my scheduled tour of duty. How do I get credit for that time in my retirement annuity?

A. The extra hours you worked are already a matter of record and you’ll get credit for them in your annuity computation.

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Reduction to part time

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Q. I will have 18 years in FERS and I am 59. My job  will be reduced to a part-time position in September and I need to know if I should retire before it gets reduced? Should I take the hit and stay with the part-time position until I turn 60? Will the part time reduce my annuity if I stay for the following six months? Read the rest of this entry »

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Severance pay

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Q. I am 52 with 17 years in the federal government (FERS). I am not eligible to retire yet and am not eligible for a discontinued service retirement. My agency field office is closing, and I have decided to decline their directed assignment outside of my state. I am eligible for severance pay due to the fact that it is not a reasonable job offer (it is outside of my commuting area, and I am not subject to a mobility agreement). I have submitted my information and found I am eligible to receive one year’s worth of severance payments. I know that if I receive severance payments but soon after get hired into another federal job, the severance payments will stop. Read the rest of this entry »

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Mandatory removal

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Q. I am a Dual Status Military Technician GS-12 and I will reach my Mandatory Removal Date in 2019 when I am 50 and not eligible for retirement yet. This will end my Federal employment as a military technician. What options are there for me to gain new employment in the federal system and what impact does my previous GS-12 grade have? Read the rest of this entry »

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Seniority

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Q. Does a person have seniority when two people in the same section are applying for the same job? Both have the same experience, one from active duty and retired from active duty of 23 years. But he will only have two years as a federal employee in August 2014. The other has 12 years federal service and 11 years active duty. Both are a GS-07 and looking to apply for a GS-09. I realize management has the right to hire anyone who they feel is qualified. Read the rest of this entry »

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Re-employment

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Q. I am a FERS retiree since 2003. May I work as a temporary fire lookout for the same agency?

A. There is nothing that would prevent you from being rehired by your former agency if it wanted to do so. However, you need to find out what the effect of taking that job would be. As a rule, the salary of a re-employed annuitant would be reduced by the amount of his annuity. If that turns out to be the case with the temporary lookout position, you’d end up working for nothing.

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Lump sum for unused annual leave

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Q. How soon would I receive my lump sum payment for unused annual leave when I retire?

A. Only your agency payroll office can answer that question.

Within grade pay increase

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Q. I will separate from the military in September with 11 years, 6 months of service. I am looking to get a federal GS job where I can buy back my military time. I know this goes toward the pension plan, but does it also count anything toward GS within-grade pay increase?

A. As a non-retired former member of the military, your active-duty service will be used to establish your service computation date and, thus, your annual leave accrual category. It doesn’t count toward the step at which you are hired. However, if you have special skills that would make you highly desirable, you can try negotiating for a higher entry step with the agency that is considering hiring you.

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State to federal

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Q. I’m considering moving from a state job in New Jersey to a federal job. Will any of the state pension deductibles be transferable to the federal government?

A: No.

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WEP effect

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Q. I served 5 years, 8 months, in the military, then 30 years in the Post Office. I had roughly 6 months of sick leave to use, so 37 years total. Military time was repaid prior to VERA in June 2011. My Social Security statement is 38 credits as of 2012. My VERA incentive was calculated under Social Security. If I become employed before I’m 62, how will my annuity be affected and how much will my Social Security benefits be? Is there a calculator to determine this amount using specific amounts?

A. Because you’ll have fewer than 30 years of substantial earnings under Social Security, your Social Security benefit would be subject to the windfall elimination provision. The WEP would reduce – but not eliminate – that benefit. To learn more about the WEP and how it would affect you, go to http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10045.pdf.

 

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‘Retire, FERS’ refund

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Q. My wife worked for the federal government from 2011 to 2012 and resigned in August 2012 due to medical reasons. During that two years of service, $222.07 was deducted from her pay for “Retire, FERS” and there were matching funds of $3281.31, so the total is $3503.30 for the “Retire, FERS.” Can my wife request that money be refunded?

A. If she doesn’t plan to return to federal service, she would only be entitled to a refund of her own retirement contributions. Doing so would cancel her entitlement to any future retirement benefit. However, if she got a refund and later returned to federal service, she could redeposit that money, plus accrued interest, to get credit for that period of service.