Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Temporary time

Bookmark and Share

Q. I was on a worker trainee, temporary appointment from August 27, 1981, to September 30, 1982. Do I have to buy back that time for it to be calculated in my retirement?

Read the rest of this entry »

FERS disability for term employee

Bookmark and Share

Q. My husband is a helicopter maintenance instructor on a term-appointment due to expire Dec. 31, 2014. He was taken out from his position as a primary instructor and put in the an assistant instructor position due to memory problems that are affecting his ability to teach and do proper fixes on the aircraft. His supervisor recommended in a counseling statement that he seek medical attention to identify any issues. He has been recently diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and excruciating face pain. He will meet the MRA + 10 retirements in August of this year (all term appointment time) but that provides very little in way of an annuity. Is he eligible to apply for FERS retirement disability? Does he have to apply for Social Security first? He is retired military but receives no disability benefits from the Army or VA. Read the rest of this entry »

FEHB and deferred retirement

Bookmark and Share

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 »

NTE position and VSIP eligibility

Bookmark and Share

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?

Read the rest of this entry »

CSRS actuarial reduction

Bookmark and Share

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)?

Read the rest of this entry »

CSRS or FERS?

Bookmark and Share

Q. I was hired as a temporary employee with the Defense Department on Oct. 15, 1984, and received a permanent position in June 1985. Am I supposed to be under FERS or CSRS?

Read the rest of this entry »

Creditable service

Bookmark and Share

Q. I will be 56 on April 27, 2017. My service computation date is Dec. 31, 1986. I was in the Coast Guard from 1982 to 1986 and with the National Park Service since Dec. 31, 1990. Seven years ago, I bought back my four years of service to add to FERS, but when I was hired by the NPS, for three years or so, I was under a temporary not-to-exceed one year appointment that got renewed each year until the Office of Personnel Management declared those appointments no longer valid. We were basically full-time employees with no benefits. So I’m assuming those three years or so of temp employment will not count toward my time? And that you can’t buy that time back like I did my military service time?

Read the rest of this entry »

Old W-2 forms

Bookmark and Share

Q. I worked for the federal government as a temporary employee twice: August-November, 1972 as a clerk-typist in a 90-day position. I believe I was not in the FERS plan but rather paid into Social Security. The second time was the following year:  February-March, 1973.  I am pretty certain that this was also a temporary position of six months, which I left after two months. If I am correct, and it was a temporary position, I probably was exempt from FERS and again paid into Social Security.

I am now trying to add up my Social Security credits. I think I should have two quarters (August-November 1972) and one quarter (February-March 1973) from these two temporary federal jobs. How can I prove this without talking to Social Security? I want to be able to prove this in case the Social Security Administration challenges it. I think I would need my W-2 forms for those years, but I cannot find them. I can’t locate my tax forms for those years either (I was 18 years old at the time).

Can I get my old W-2 forms from the Department of Labor (first job) and the Department of Defense (I think that was my second job … DCASR)?

Read the rest of this entry »

Rehire of FERS annuitant

Bookmark and Share

Q. I got a letter from the National Association of Retiring Federal Employees stating, “Federal agencies are now re-employing federal retirees on a limited part-time basis without an offset to their annuity.” Can you explain this a little further? How would I find and apply for one of these positions?

Read the rest of this entry »

Wrong retirement system?

Bookmark and Share

Q. I was active-duty military from February 1976 to February 1980. Then, from February 1980 to 1982, I was a temp employee. In February 1982, I was made permanent in the same position and placed in CSRS, where I remain today. I have paid both deposits for my military and temp time and my service computation date is February 1976. I read in your column where employees have been placed in the wrong retirement system and wanted to confirm I’ve been placed correctly in CSRS.

Read the rest of this entry »

Term position, leave and creditable service

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am a term employee (not to exceed five years) participating in FERS. My term is ending in April. If I get a permanent position prior to that, what happens to my annual leave and sick leave. Does my term time count toward retirement?

Read the rest of this entry »

Civilian deposit/redeposit

Bookmark and Share

Q. I’m a federal civilian FERS employee. I’m 54 years old and will be 55 in March. Now that I’m almost at the 30-year mark and with my minimum retirement age around the corner, I recently sat down with my retirement adviser to figure out my annuity computation numbers for retirement. My service computation date is Jan. 28, 1984. While there, I found out that I was on a not-to-exceed appointment until June 10, 1984. I filled out a request for civilian deposit/redeposit application. I found out that I had owed $48 during that time and now I owe $287 with the interest. Since I will have the 30 years this month, and by June it will be 30 years at a permanent civilian position, what would be the advantage to paying that off? If I don’t get that paid, what is the penalty when I retire either in March 2015 or in an event of an early-out?

Read the rest of this entry »

Temporary time buyback

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am a FERS employee who will have 30 years of permanent GS employment in December 2015. I have six months of temporary time as a GS employee, which would move my 30 years to April 2015. Can I buy back the temporary time? If so, how do I start this process?

Read the rest of this entry »

Re-employment and avoiding offset

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am retired under the CSRS/firefighter retirement benefit. At the time I retired, I was told that after five years, I would be able to hold a temporary, 1039 position without a pay offset of my annuity. Is this true?

Read the rest of this entry »

CSRS vs. CSRS Offset

Bookmark and Share

Q. I have worked with the understanding that I would enjoy a CSRS retirement. When I turned in a request for retirement computation, I found out that I was a CSRS Offset employee, and they began removing Social Security payments from my paycheck. I am over 55 and have worked over 30 years with the same federal company. I had a break in service to have a baby (that was back when the Family Medical Leave Act did not exist, and I had to quit and return to work as a temp for a year and then be made permanent again.

I did not know if I am expected to pay 30 years of back Social Security. Some say that CSRS should move my contributions to SS, and some say they will not. I have 17 quarters of SS. I plan on working another five years.  When I plan on retiring, I will have paid in 39.25 quarters and be 60 years old. There will be six years of payments to SS upon retirement.

I have a great fear of retiring at 60 and then, on the magic becoming of 62 years old, and huge wrench will be thrown in the works and I will have a reduced annuity from the CSRS and no annuity from Social Security. What type of proactive actions should I be taking now to resolve my anxiety?

Read the rest of this entry »

Retirement eligibility

Bookmark and Share

Q. I’m a permanent Department of the Army civilian employee under FERS. I was hired July 27, 2009, as a temporary term employee and converted to permanent status Feb. 14, 2010. I’ve had full benefits from the start of my employment, except for medical, which I started in January 2010. All of my benefits have continued without interruption (I think I had either two or three days leave without pay while on term).

I have two years and seven months of military service from the 1960s. I’ve been looking into buying back my service time, but since I don’t have the buyback numbers yet, I haven’t made a decision one way or the other.

I’m 66 years old. What would be the earliest date I could retire maintaining my pension benefits and medical insurance (vesting)?

Read the rest of this entry »

Lapse in coverage and five-year rule

Bookmark and Share

Q. I left the government after being enrolled in the Federal Employees Health Benefits plan for two years. I returned to the government 20 years later and elected to re-enroll. There was a two-week (one pay period) lapse in the coverage due to paperwork processing. I worked for another four years, and then my term appointment expired. Does the two-week lapse in coverage affect the five-year rule?

Read the rest of this entry »

Term not extended

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am a Department of Army term employee overseas and was recently informed by human resources that the Army will not renew (extend) my term appointment once I complete 24 months in January 2014. I have 25 years (18 military, seven FERS) of combined service for retirement purposes from civil service. If I can’t continue federal employment by the time I complete my current 24-month term assignment, what status should I choose if I intend to return to federal employment in the near future? In other words, if I must have a break in service, I want to ensure I have my ducks in a row once I return to civil service. Once I return to civil service, I don’t want to be told, “Well since you didn’t elect to blah blah blah, I am afraid you don’t qualify for blah blah blah. Didn’t anyone advise you to blah blah blah when you left federal service?” I have three children under age 5 and a spouse.

Read the rest of this entry »

Temp time and annuity eligibility

Bookmark and Share

Q. I worked for the federal government for approximately three years temporarily from 1980 to 1982. Can this temporary time be bought back and used toward retirement?

Read the rest of this entry »

Military buyback

Bookmark and Share

Q. I served eight years and five months in the Army. I left on a service-connected disability with $22,000 in severance pay, which, over the years, has been paid back. I have been working as a temporary GS-13, Step 1, for seven months and I just received an offer for a permanent GS-12, Step 7. I wanted to get an idea as to what the cost might be for me to buy back my military service. They gave full credit for service when I started as a GS-13 (service computation date Sept. 22, 2004).

Read the rest of this entry »