Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Retirement annuity after job switch

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Q. I have recently retired from an air traffic controller job, collecting a retirement annuity from the government. I am 55 years old and was wondering if I can now get a job with another government agency (Homeland Security) and still retain my retirement annuity. Is there anything written about this, and where would I find it?

A. Whether you can get a job with another agency is up to them. As a rule, your new salary would be offset by the amount of your annuity. However, there are limited authorities that allow an annuitant to receive both his annuity and his full salary. Before you accept a job, you’ll have to be sure which rule applies. If you find a position that allows you to receive both, when you retire again, your annuity won’t be recomputed to include that new period of service.

Conditions of new federal position

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Q. I worked from 4/1987 through 8/1998 as an Architect/Engineer SR with the USPS. I resigned with a good record. I have a form 50 that states my service which I submitted when I applied. I recently was hired to a new position.

I cannot get a clear understanding about my retirement, my vesting and if I have a probationary period and how long it is. I was not reinstated. I was FERS, and I never took my basic .8 contribution out. I did transfer my Thrift Savings Plan to a private brokerage account. They used the .8 to continue my FERS plus gave me the service time as far as leave goes (six hours/pay period).

1. How is my retirement calculated? What age can I retire? I am 57 now.

2. How long before I can be considered a vested federal employee with competitive rights to apply for another position?

3. How much service time do I have according to the VA? My personnel record has it like I am starting over.

4. Do I have a probationary period, and how long is it? Read the rest of this entry »

Annuitant considering rehire

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Q. I retired from the federal government in 2007, receive an annuity and would like to come back to work for the federal government as a rehire. Federal job applications have a section entitled “Who May Apply.” If the position advertises for “United States Citizens,” am I eligible to apply as an annuitant?
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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 »

Spousal annuity and dual career FERS employees

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Q. My wife and I are both federal employees nearing retirement. What are the pros and cons of deciding not to have a spousal annuity for either one of us since we will have our own benefits, including our own Thrift Savings Plans and Social Security?

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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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Medicare

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Q. Does my wife have to sign up for Medicare? If so, when does she have to sign up? And, if my wife does not sign up for Medicare, will she incur any penalty?

Scenario: I am a working FERS employee and my wife still works. She is not a government employee. I have self-and-family Federal Employees Health Benefits coverage. I am not yet age 65. My wife will turn 65 this year.

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Annuity reduction

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Q. I turned 60 on May 17. As of this past November, I have 27 years as a fed. If I retired now, with less than 30 years, is there a penalty? How much?

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Sick leave and retirement

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Q. I’m FERS and will have 28 years and nine months in at my minimum retirement age of 56. I have a sick leave balance of 2,819 hours (I’ve never used any sick leave in my whole career). I’m 54 now and will work at least until 56. My sick leave credit will give me more time toward my FERS annuity (approximately 30 years). Does the sick leave give me 30 toward the special retirement supplement if I go at my MRA, or do I need to work until I have 30 years of service, which is three years from now. My hire date is Aug. 2, 1986.

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Insurable interest vs. survivor annuity

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Q. I am a retired federal employee under CSRS Offset. My male partner and I are getting married soon. My pension is set up so he has an insured interest. I took a reduction in my monthly annuity, so if he survives me, he will get a portion of my pension. I believe it is 35 percent. As married spouses, how will this change? What percentage would he get? Would my annuity be reduced some more for him to receive the spousal as opposed to insured interest annuity?

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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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Special retirement supplement and TSP

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Q. I am looking at retiring in January 2015. I will be 56 years old Oct. 15. I will have 30 years in as of Dec. 24. Waiting until the end of leave year to cash in all available annual leave. I am looking at cashing out my Thrift Savings Plan in a lump sum to pay off all debts. Will that income be considered part of earned income so that the special retirement supplement is reduced?

If so, would it be in my interest to retire at the end of 2014 so that my annual leave hits that year instead of 2015? I will have more than 1,800 hours of sick leave accrued by the end of 2014. Can that be used to offset the age so that I could perhaps retire earlier so that the TSP lump sum is counted in 2014?

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CSRS pre-10/01/82 deposit

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Q. I entered federal service under a temporary appointment on March 16, 1981, until being converted to a career-conditional appointment on Jan. 12, 1982. The Office of Personnel Management has calculated that I owe a CSRS pre-10/01/1982 deposit of $878.88 and interest of $1,398.85 for a total of $2,277.73. If I understand it correctly, unless I pay the deposit in full, my annual annuity will be reduced by 10 percent of the amount of the unpaid balance at retirement. In this case, my annual annuity would be reduced approximately $227.77 or $18.98 per month. Does this reduction ever change? Are there ramifications other than this reduction to be considered, i.e. cost-of-living adjustments, etc.?

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FERS annuity

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Q. I am 57 with 22+ years of service with the Veterans Affairs Medical Center. I’d like to find out what my FERS balance is and what would be the best time to start an annuity. I served from 1989 to 2010 + two years active military bought back.

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Dual status retirement

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Q. I am a military technician who is reaching age 60. At that time, I will only have 16 years civil service. Will I receive a full retirement with the special retirement supplement? Or will it be a reduced retirement?

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VERA and one-time annuity reduction

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Q. I am CSRS with 33 years of service at age 52. I am considering a Voluntary Early Retirement Authority offer and understand the annuity is reduced 2 percent for each year under age 55. Is this a one-time annuity reduction at time of retirement, or is the reduction computed every year against the inflation-adjusted annuity?

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Windfall elimination provision

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Q. If I continue to work at a Social Security-covered job past the age of 62, will the windfall elimination provision deduction be reduced?

I retired from the Postal Service as a CSRS employee in 2004. Prior to my Postal Service time, I had 12 years of substantial earnings in the private sector. Since my retirement in 2004, I have worked for 10 years in a job that pays Social Security deductions. So, as of now, at the age of 62, I have 22 years of substantial earnings.

I have contacted the Social Security Administration and been told to use the WEP detailed calculator to determine what my benefit would be if I made a Social Security claim. However, that did not answer my question. I realize that the longer I work, the greater the Social Security benefit will be. But, as I work longer, will the WEP deduction be reduced, too? Or is it permanently set at age 62?

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CSRS Offset

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Q. I am a CSRS Offset employee with five years of “pure” CSRS and 22 years of CSRS Offset and three additional years of Social Security substantial earnings (so 25 years total of substantial Social Security earnings).

I am getting different answers as to how much my CSRS annuity will be adjusted at age 62 (i.e., the offset) and how much my Social Security benefit will be affected by the windfall elimination provision. My question is whether the combined benefit at age 62 of CSRS pension plus Social Security benefit ever ends up being less than the CSRS Offset benefit was before the offset took effect?

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Retirement at 30 years

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Q. I just received my 30-year pin for government service time worked as a FERS employee. I’ve been considering relocating to Florida and can’t find a government job. If I took a job at a town hall in Florida, would I be able to resign from my current government job and have them keep all my retirement and Thrift Savings Plan on ice until I would have been eligible to retire at age 56 without penalty? If so, would I also be eligible at age 56 for the special retirement supplement, even if I were working for the town, or would I have to retire from the town job to be eligible for the supplement?

The only reason I ask is that after seeing your answer to someone else’s similar question (they only had 20 years vested), part of your answer was: “The only way to reduce or avoid the reduction would be to retire and postpone the receipt of your annuity until a later date.”

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CSRS Offset at 62 vs. 65 or 66

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Q. I am a retired federal employee covered by CSRS Offset with 31+ years of federal service. I understand that, at age 62, my CSRS federal pension will be reduced and Social Security will pay the reduced amount to receive approximately the same in monthly annuity. Would my Social Security amount increase if I did not claim Social Security until I reached age 65 or my full Social Security retirement age? Also, I believe I have 30 years of substantial earnings with Social Security. Does this have an impact on when and how much I will receive from Social Security after age 62?

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