Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

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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NAF to GS

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Q. How can a nonappropriated fund employee move into a GS position in the same directorate without opening the position to the general population?

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LWOP and promotion

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Q. 1. Does management have a right to use leave without pay as a basis of a “black eye” and keep an employee from being promoted even though the employee has exceptional rating for more than three years?

2. Can management require a probationary period of one year prior to promotion if the employee is qualified and filling a GS-5,6,7 position as a GS-5 where the employee was promised to be promoted once accepting the position in front of witnesses?

The employee needed to be on LWOP due to excessive use of leave taking care of a family member’s medical issues, and the family member eventually died following treatments.

The agency never offered advanced annual leave or advanced sick leave or Family Medical Leave Act to this employee.

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Law enforcement special retirement coverage

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Q. I was hired as GS-9/11 1811 criminal investigator (primary position) and, after two years and 23 days, I was promoted into a supervisory position for nine years that was classified as a secondary position. Because I did not complete three years in a primary position first, I was told that I did not meet the requirements for special coverage. But I changed agencies and spent my last eight years in a “primary position,” so I have over 10 years in a primary position. I feel that I have completed the three-year requirement. Can I get the nine years of my secondary position covered?

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Disability retirement and law enforcement

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Q. I am receiving disability benefits. I am 49 years old and a former Customs and Border Protection officer. I was basically forced to retire when I became injured, and the agency informed me I was not suitable to be an officer, and they offered me a secretarial job. The agency asserted that I could no longer fulfill my job as a CBP officer notating the job description for 6(c) coverage. I am wondering if I should be entitled to 6(c) retirement under disability or regular retirement?

Before 6(c) was authorized, I was already performing the same duties just without the title. Furthermore, the agency even provided me with a description of a CBP 6(c) officer when they rejected any other law enforcement position for me.

Additionally, if I am found medically recuperated from my injury, does CBP have an obligation to place me back as an officer or supervisor?

Isn’t there a minimum age? I retired at age 44 with 19 years of federal service. I have been on disability for five years. Would they hire me again at age 49 or 50 in a 6(c) law enforcement position? If not, why does the Office of Personnel Management continue to send periodic medical evaluations?

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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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Re-employment

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Q. I voluntarily left my GS job to take an Army Guard and Reserve position for the past 12 years. I have since retired as a reservist and applied for several federal positions.

Prior to going AGR, I had obtained GS-13 Step 5 but took a staff position for the past couple of years as GS-12 step 10 (the pay was relatively the same, and I knew the experience would be beneficial for the AGR position I sought).

After looking through your FAQs, it seems the hiring authority may have some leeway to reinstate me to a higher step level. I recently interviewed for a GS-13 position. If selected, can my previous SF-50 as a step 5 help me retain that level? Or since I went down to GS-12, will that hurt my chances?

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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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Double dip

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Q. I am a Department of Justice employee who can retire. I understand that I cannot double dip (receive my retirement from DoJ and also work at another federal position — say, for the Defense Department). But I also understand that there are exceptions and waivers to this rule. Can you please explain the guidelines to me?

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Position relocation

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Q. My position is relocating well out of the commuting area. I cannot relocate along with that position. If I were placed in a new position at my current location but at a lower grade level, would I be entitled to save pay per 5 CFR 536?

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Rehire and grade, step

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Q. I am a former federal employee who left government service after 23 years. I have held competitive and excepted service positions. I work as a federal contractor and have held this position for 15 months. I was recently offered a federal job, and the human resources department told me that they could only rehire me at the grade and step level I was at when I left (GS-13/Step 2). However, my current contracting job pays more than that, and I thought they could rehire me at a higher step rate to match what I am making, but the federal agency said they cannot offer any more money since I left at a GS-13/2. Is this accurate? I know other people who left government service and came back were hired at a much higher grade and rate than what they held previously.

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Paygrade

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Q. I am a GS-9 and filling a GS-7 position that has not been filled. I have been informed that due to the agency downsizing, my GS-9 position will be eliminated. What are my options? Am I entitled to a GS-9 save-pay if I am offered the GS-7 position?

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Unfair release?

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Q. A good friend of mine was recently fired/released from duty because he did not meet the stringent medical standards of the Pentagon Police Department. We fall under the Pentagon Force Protection Agency. He has failed several hearing tests over the past two years. His conversational hearing is fine, but he fails the low- or high-frequency portion of the rigid test. His own doctor has tested him and says he is perfectly fine for duty. But the agency did not accept the second opinion.

And one of his main concerns is that he was hired three years ago with the same hearing loss that he currently has. He is going through a lot of financial difficulty and personal trouble because of this situation. The agency has offered him a new administrative position but at a substantial pay reduction. Is he entitled to any compensation? Would hiring a lawyer be wise (although he can’t afford one right now)?

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Age restriction

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Q. I am 38 years old and work as a probation officer for the state of Michigan. A federal probation officer job just opened. Would I be able to apply for the position since it is in the same field, or would my age restrict me from qualifying?

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Break in service and step increase

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Q. I served 27 years federal service, then had a break in service of two years and one month and was reinstated to the status I had before (GS-7, Step 8. My personnel lady told me the time I served as a Step 8 before would count toward my next step increase. I was a Step 8 for one year, five months and two weeks, so do I only have to wait one year, six months and two weeks for my next step increase, or do I have to wait the full three years?

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Temporary promotion

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Q. 1. Can a person be noncompetitively temporarily promoted from a GS-14 to a GS-15 without having served 52 weeks as a GS-14?

2. Can a person act in a higher-graded position without competition beyond 120 days?

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Desk audit

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Q. My position is scheduled for desk audit. We have received a lot of misinformation or no information. If I’m downgraded, how does it affect pay?

Second, I was told by a supervisor that our pay would remain the same only for two years and if you have not found another position to match your pay, it will drop to the new GS position’s pay.

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GS-13 with GS-7 supervisor

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Q. If I am a GS-13, can a GS-7 be appointed as my supervisor in the Department of the Navy?

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LEO special category retirement and hiring

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Q. Does a law enforcement officer or firefighter have to work 20 years consecutively to be eligible for special retirement coverage? Also, if an applicant is beyond his/her 37th birthday, could the agency hire them for the LEO or firefighter position?

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Position change

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Q. I have been performing the duties of a GS-0081-09 Supervisory Fire Fighter for eight months. I am a GS-0081-08 Lead Fire Fighter. My department just posted a GS-0081-09 Lead Fire Fighter position. How do I get upgraded to the position? I am also a 30 percent or more disabled vet.

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