Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Buying back LWOP

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Q. I am a CSRS-offset employee planning to retire at the end of the year and trying to get all my ducks in a row.

While working for the Postal Service as an Army Reservist, I was on leave without pay for two months and six days in 1984, and four months and 19 days in 1994. I thought I would have to pay this time back in order to receive retirement credit. However, in the 2014 CSRS Retirement Planning Guide published by FEDweek, on page 40, I read, “A total of six months of LWOP (including furlough days) in any calendar year is considered to be creditable service. In other words, for calculating your length of service, it’s treated as if you had never been on leave. Further, you don’t have to make a deposit to get credit for that time.”

Does this mean I will be credited my time on LWOP for service and retirement? Read the rest of this entry »

FEHB and deferred retirement

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Q. I started work in an letter of authorization appointment in June 2004. In January 2005, I was hired under a TERM contract not-to-exceed four years. I completed that term and a second one. At the end of that period, my only option to continue was to return to an L/A appointment. Because I was coming from a position with benefits (FEHB and FERS), I was able to keep them in the L/A appointment. The L/A appointment rules are changing (all the time, it seems), and at this point I don’t know if my L/A appointment can be renewed.

Though I’ve never been a permanent federal employee, at the end of this appointment, I will have nine years, and one and a half months of full time FERS, plus 10 months at 3/8 time. I will be 52.

I understand that as a general rule FEHB benefits cannot be picked up in the case of a deferred retirement, but I’m wondering if there is an exception because neither myself nor my employer are wanting me to stop working, there just isn’t a way to keep me working. (Well, there is a possibility I could work under a service contract act but would not have federal benefits.) Read the rest of this entry »

CSRS annuitant considering reemployment

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Q. I’ve read where normally one’s salary is cut by the amount of annuity he or she is receiving, but what happens if the new salary is less than the existing annuity? Read the rest of this entry »

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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Age restrictions

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Q. Is there an age restriction for potential employees if they are older than 69?

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Law enforcement and SRS eligibility

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Q. I am eligible for a 30-year retirement in July at age 50. If I do not get another job, I am eligible for a special retirement supplement due to the mandatory early retirement that federal law officers must take.

If I don’t work for, say, six months and then get a job in the private sector and work two years, or if I get a job immediately upon retirement and only work a couple of years, will I still be eligible for the supplement after leaving the private sector?

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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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11 questions on military buyback

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Q. 1. How are the days of active-duty service calculated?

2. Is that a one-to-one credit added to years of service?

3. Can you buy it back after you retire and adjust the annuity accordingly?

4. Can you buy back portions of it?

5. Can you pay in installments?

6. What percentage of military pay per year would you get in retirement? For CSRS, it is roughly 2 percent based on high-3; would it be calculated on actual salary back then or adjusted for inflation?

7. Any chance for a retroactive payment once established?

8. Will I lose any benefits if I do this?

9. Can I do this if I was not in the military long enough to earn a pension?

10. How does Social Security fit into this picture?

11. Can I get all three (FERS/CSRS, Social Security, military/Defense Department) separately? What is the penalty for collecting multiple pensions if done separately?

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NTE position and VSIP eligibility

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Q. Would I be eligible for a Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay if offered? I am 57 and will have 33 years of service under CSRS in June. I took an NTE position in 2009 that ended in Sept 2011 and was unemployed from Sept. 30, 2011, to June 2012, when I was reinstated. Because I had the break in service — and since that break have been working less than three years continuously, would that make me ineligible for a buyout?

Also, is there a limit on how many times you can be turned down for a VSIP or any recourse after multiple times while others get approved for it?

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Military retirement + civilian retirement

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Q. I left active duty after 14 years and joined the reserves. Due to my specialty in certain investigations (CID agent), I was involuntary mobilized prior to obtaining a civilian (1811) job. I was mobilized for four continuous years, bringing my active-duty time to 18 years. Once off active duty, I was able to report for my first day of work as an 1811 in the GS. Since I was not eligible for active-duty retirement, I was able to use my 18 years for sick/vacation time. My unit is planning to mobilize this year (for a year), and my plan is to mobilize and hope to stay on until reaching 20 active-duty years, thereby clinching an active-duty retirement. If I buy the 18 years back now for the GS civilian job, and then I mobilize for two years, would I be eligible for the active-duty retirement since I will have reached 20 years?

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State taxes

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Q. I am going to be a retired CSRS employee. The Postal Service does not take state taxes out of the CSRS retirement check. How do I go about paying my state taxes?

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Disability retirement

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Q. I have 25 years of service with the Postal Service. I am extremely ill and have been told by my doctor that I would need to consider disability retirement. My base pay is $57,000 per year. Could you please tell me what my disability retirement will be?

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Survivor annuity

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Q. My husband passed away in 2004. He was retired when we married, and I am wondering if I am able to receive any benefits from his pension. We were married for 25 years. He was a postmaster and worked for the Postal Service for 30 years.

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Reserve + Postal Service retirement?

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Q. I’m 61 (born in 1952) and am retiring this year at age 62. Beginning in 1970, I served three years of active duty in the Navy, 10 years in the Reserve, 16 years of active-duty reserves. I retired to the fleet reserve in 1999, which delayed my retirement pay to age 60 (2012). I joined the Postal Service in 2001. At that time, I entered FERS and did military buyback. With my Navy and postal time, postal computation shows I have 30 years this year and am eligible to retire from the Postal Service. Will I be able to receive both Naval Reserve retirement and Postal Service retirement, or am I only eligible to collect Postal Service retirement?

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39 quarters

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Q. I am 61 years old and have been retired from the fire service. I have, according to Social Security, 39 units which were not earned at fire service. If correct, I need one unit to earn Social Security at age 62, and I need this unit also to be eligible for Medicare at age 65? Is there any other way to get this one quarter other than going to get a job for three months?

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CSRS actuarial reduction

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Q. I worked under CSRS from 1963 to 1984 and withdrew my contributions when I left. I returned to a term position in 2002 and was informed that I couldn’t elect CSRS, so I selected a FERS pension. I am 72 and still employed. When I retire, I will receive an actuarially reduced CSRS pension. Does the reduction computation continue each year into retirement? What is the reason (law or regulation) that this reduction is itself not reduced or eliminated if I retire at a more advanced age (and will receive the pension for fewer years)?

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Military buyback

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Q. I am a 52-year-old veteran who works as a civilian for the Postal Service. I began my military career with 10 years of active-duty Army service and then honorably separated and went to work for the Postal Service. I bought back those 10 years at that time and joined the Army Reserve. I served eight years with the Postal Service full time and USAR duty as required. In 2002, my Reserve unit was called up in support of Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom, and I remained an active-duty reservist until February 2012, when I qualified for lock-in. As required, the Postal Service held my job for me. Upon my return to the post office, I inquired about the process to make up the contributions to retirement and Thrift Savings Plan as outlined in the FERS guide and was told I could not because I was receiving reserved retirement pay, and that the time that I spent activated with the Reserve would not count toward postal retirement. Furthermore, the USPS wants to refund the money that I already paid to buy back my active duty service and not credit that time toward my USPS retirement. Is this correct? It does not appear to be under the following:

10 USC § 12741 – Retirement for service in an active status performed in the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve after eligibility for regular retirement

10 USC § 12736 – Service credited for retired pay benefits not excluded for other benefits.

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FERS redeposit and taxes

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Q. My wife left her government job a number of years ago and withdrew the money from her FERS account. She re-entered government service a few years ago. She then requested the redeposit amount required to bring her FERS account whole again. To make her FERS redeposit payment, she took a withdrawal from her IRA.

We received a 1099-R from her IRA firm showing the withdrawal and we will need to report on our taxes as income. Since the money went back into FERS, can I deduct that amount as if it were being rolled over into an IRA?

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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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Annuity eligibility

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Q. I worked for the Postal Service from 1988 to 1999 and took my retirement money with me. Someone told me that they only gave me what I put in and I am entitled to the money they matched. Is that true? Am I entitled to any pension from the post office when I am old enough to retire for good?

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