Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Annuity reduction

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Q. I served three years on active duty from 1966 to 1969. I was hired as a federal employee in 1970. I retired in 2009 at age 61 and not eligible at that time for any Social Security benefits. I did not buy back my military service because of the provision under section 22A5.1-3G of the CSRS/FERS Handbook, where it states that “employees who retired prior to age 62; and are not eligible for Social Security at age 62; continue to receive credit for the post-1956 military service even if they become entitled to Social Security at a later date and the military deposit was not made.”

Because of some part-time work I have been doing over the past four years, I am now eligible for Social Security benefits. If I apply for such benefits, will it affect my CSRS annuity? I understand that the windfall elimination provision will apply to me.

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Collecting retirement

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Q. I am a federal air technician with the Air National Guard. I have 34 years in the Guard and 27 years as a federal full-time technician. I am in FERS and have a minimum retirement age of 56. I will be 53 this year.

It has been communicated to me that I will probably not be retained this year, meaning that Dec. 31, 2014, I will be involuntarily retired, thus losing my full (technician) and part-time (traditional Guard) employment. When can I begin collecting my retirement pay, Social Security, Thrift Savings Plan? Are there any penalties if I was forced to retire?

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CSRS frozen service

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Q. I’m a Defense Department employee who was initially hired part time under CSRS in 1979, but elected to switch to FERS. At that time, I’m not sure if I was refunded the money I put into CSRS. I’m showing eight years of frozen service (with no mention of CSRS Offset), Thrift Savings Plan eligibility date of July 11, 1993, TSP service computation date of Jan. 1, 1984, and TSP status date of July 11, 1993.

The first entry I’m seeing in my FERS account is dated Feb. 1, 1988. Am I eligible for a CSRS retirement annuity for the eight years of frozen service, or am I only entitled to a FERS annuity for all of my years of service?

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FERS disability retirement

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Q. I work part time while on federal service. If approved for FERS disability retirement, I understand I can earn up to 80 percent of what was being earned by federal service. Does this take into account military retirement annuity, present earnings from my part-time job performed from home and the amount of the disability annuity? What is taken into account in determining wages/self-employment to ascertain reaching the 80 percent authorized amount?

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Part-time re-employment

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 Q. I received an annuity based on my FERS employment at the Social Security Administration. Am I eligible to apply for part-time employment at a Defense Department commissary?

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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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Annuity calculation

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 Q. I served 15 years in the Air Force. I started work at the Veterans Affairs Department after that, part time (50 percent) at age 38. I bought back my military time (15 years). When I retire at my minimum retirement age, I will have 34 years, including my military time (19 years FERS part time and 15 yrs active-duty USAF). How will my retirement be calculated?

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Re-employment after disability retirement

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Q. I am on a disability retirement after 32 years of CSRS service with the Postal Service. I am 59 and have been retired for about nine years. Can I take a job at a state prison working part time in the mail room without jeopardizing my disability retirement?

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Part-time work and annuity reduction

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Q. I am a CSRS Offset employee who wishes to retire from a Defense Department agency in early 2014 and begin collecting my annuity. I also wish to be employed by different DoD agency part time (less than 1,000 hours per year) immediately after I retire.

Will my retirement annuity be reduced to offset any portion of my new part-time income from the new DoD agency?

If my retirement annuity is not reduced by any portion of my new part-time income, will any portion of my new part-time income be reduced by any portion of my retirement annuity?

Is there any threshold (i.e. number of hours) working part time for a federal agency which, if exceeded, would result in either a reduced annuity or reduced part-time pay?

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Health insurance premium and going part time

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Q. I have 12 years of full-time employment and am MRA +10. Instead of retiring outright, I was thinking of going to half-time for a year or two. I understand my share of health insurance premiums will go up dramatically while I am employed part-time, but what will happen when I finally retire? Will my share go back to the full-time amount, or will I continue to pay the extra half? This is a major part of my decision to stay on because my pension would barely cover the increased amount.

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CSRS military credit

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Q. I retired in 2008 with 33 years credited, of which three were in the military. I never bought back my military time. I am almost 59 now and have 35 quarters of Social Security banked. I understand that if I get over 40 before I turn 62, my pension will be affected. Most of my Social Security quarters earned were either military (in the 1970s; wasn’t much) and part-time work.

So I do not have much money vested in Social Security.

If I get 40 quarters and my pension is offset, how can I figure how much that will be? I may decide it’s to my benefit to continue part-time work.

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FEHB options for part-time employees

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Q. I am 50 years old and have worked for the Department of the Navy for 25 years under FERS. The last five years of my career has been part time (20 hours per week). My wife has also worked for the Navy for 12 years (full time under FERS) and provides our Federal Employee Health Benefits family plan coverage. I have been covered by an FEHB plan consecutively for over 25 years. If I were offered early retirement, could I pick up the FEHB family plan coverage and carry it into retirement with me? If not, why not?

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Medicare

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Q. I am turning 65 in December. I am retired from the federal government and have Aetna HMO. I am also retired from the Army Reserve and have Tricare and I am 30 percent disabled from the Veterans Affairs Department (diabetic). I live in New Jersey with my wife at 59; my son is still in college at 22; my 19-year-old daughter is also in college. I work part time and use my retirement health care and Tricare to cover myself and family. I am not filing for Social Security until I am 66.

I am totally confused on Medicare Part B. I have read that if I don’t take Medicare Part B, then I don’t have Tricare. If I take Part B, do I have to pay a monthly fee?

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Part-time work after retirement

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Q. I am under FERS. If I retire when I am eligible, can I go to work part time for a different government agency and still draw my retirement?

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Part-timer changing from self only to self and family

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Q. I work part time and carry self-only health insurance, using my husband’s nongovernment health insurance for the family since it’s less expensive. Upon our retirement:

1. Can we drop my husband’s health insurance, switch my self-only insurance to self-and-family insurance?  Or would I have to carry family insurance for the five years, not just self-only?

2. Also, I’m carrying the least expensive health insurance. Once I retire, can I switch to a better health insurance, or am I limited in some way because I’ve been paying so little over my active federal government years?

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FEHB premiums and part-time work

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Q. I have over 25 years of service as a full-time employee under FERS. I plan to switch to working part time for the next year or two before I retire. I know that I’ll pay a higher Federal Employees Health Benefits premium while in part-time status because the government pays proportionally less. When I retire, will I have to continue paying the higher premium or will the government share revert to what it was when I was in full-time status?

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FEHB eligibility

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Q. My son-in-law is in his early 40s and is thinking about resigning after working full time for approximately 13 years. Is he entitled to any benefits such as health insurance, or partial retirement pay? Would the above answer in any way be altered if he continued to work part time?

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Postponed annuity and FEHB re-enrollment

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Q. My husband is planning to retire from the government under FERS at age 62 with 27 years. We have a health insurance family plan under his name. I started to work for the government almost four years ago. I am a part-time employee (about 48-50 hours per pay period). I will not be able to collect any pension for many years, and I do not plan to stay on the job after my husband retires, so no annuity for me. If my husband decides to retire earlier with a postponed retirement, it is my understanding that he will have to pay a much higher rate for the health benefits (COBRA for 18 months) plus 2 percent administrative fees until the start of his annuity. If he postpones retirement and I start a health insurance family plan for all of us, will he then be able to restart his health plan at retirement (I know I will not be able to carry it with me because I will not get an annuity)?

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Retirement, part-time work and penalty

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Q. Last week, I told Joplin Social Security that I was going to retire Nov.30, but my work has asked me to work half days for a few months. Will this affect my first Social Security check in January? How much can I make without paying a penalty? Do I have to tell the Joplin office that I am going to work 20 hours after I told them I was going to retire Nov. 30?

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Suspending medical insurance after retirement

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Q. I want to see if I can suspend my medical insurance (I am retired FERS). I have taken a part-time job that offers medical benefits if I want them. I need to make a decision soon and was told that when I retired, I would be able to suspend my medical if I found work. What is the amount I can earn before I have to pay back to the Social Security (as I am 59), and do I pay back dollar for dollar?

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