By Reg Jones
Q. I am looking at retiring in September 2014 at age 57 years and five months. I will have 34 years in FERS and a little less than a year of sick leave to convert. I have $359,000 in my Thrift Savings Plan account. I am single, never married. What are my best options? I am located in an isolated area and am unable to attend any retirement seminars, especially now with the budget issues.
Q. I’m in the Senior Executive Service under FERS. Do you know a website that I can plug in dates of service, education and ending title — i.e. program manager — to find out estimated current retirement income?
Q. A federal employee who has worked for the Social Security Administration under CSRS since 1975 has, according to the earnings and leave statement, $103,887.34 in cumulative retirement. What does that figure represent?
Q. I will be retiring on Jan. 3 with 41 years and two days of creditable service under CSRS. In addition, I have 3,519 hours (approximately 20 months) of unused sick leave. I am under the belief that my unused sick leave would be added to my years of service which would allow me to receive 80 percent of my high-3 years of salary. Would this be an accurate statement?
My employee and labor relations department is telling me that I would only receive 78 percent of my high-3 because I needed 41 years and 11 months of actual service to receive 80 percent. If my unused sick leave is added to my years of service, what happens to my unused sick leave (approximately nine months) after I reach 41 years and 11 months?
Q. I have 22 years of military service and am a civil service employee. When I retire, would it be advantageous to buy my military time back to get a better retirement?
November 13th, 2013 | annuity reduction Benefits Creditable service: CSRS CSRS Offset Earnings test EMPLOYMENT High-3 PAY Postal Service RETIREMENT SOCIAL SECURITY substantial earnings Windfall elimination provision
Q. I will be 63 this month. I worked at the Postal Service from 1969 to 1981 as a letter carrier. I took the CSRS money out when I left in 1981. I worked in the private sector from 1981 to 1989. I came back to USPS in 1989, paid back the CSRS money and am now in CSRS offset.
I have about 37 years in USPS and plan to work here another three years. Where can I find some info to help me decide whether to retire from USPS now and work in private sector or keep working at USPS?
A. The only info I can give you is about what your benefits would be if you retired now. With 37 years of service, your CSRS annuity would be 70.25 percent of your high-3. However, because you are a CSRS Offset employee who would be retiring at or after age 62, your CSRS annuity would be automatically reduced by the amount of Social Security benefit you earned while a CSRS Offset employee. The amount you received would be the same; it would just come from two different places, the Office of Personnel Management and the Social Security Administration. You could, if you wished, apply for a Social Security benefit at that time, which would give you credit for all of your Social Security-covered employed. Because you would have over 30 years of substantial earnings under Social Security, you wouldn’t be subject to the windfall elimination provision.
Q. A federal employee under CSRS becomes eligible to retire with 30 years of employment in December. Also, that same individual earns a step increase in late December. If that individual decides to retire in January 2014, will the 1 percent pay raise for federal workers be calculated in his/her retirement salary along with the higher salary? If yes, please explain.
Q. I want to retire at age 57 with 28 years federal service and receive my health benefits but defer the annuity until age 62. Is that possible? My co-workers say I should work until age 59 with 30 years federal service and begin collecting all benefits then. What would the difference in the benefits be?
Q. I may be a little confused, under CSRS, as to when I should retire: Nov. 30, 2013 or Jan. 12, 2014. I heard Social Security and retirees will get a 1.5 percent cost-of-living adjustment Jan. 1. My agency may only get a 1 percent COLA in January. But, for my annuity, would the calculation for the high-3 years with that 1 percent make little difference? I chose Nov. 30 because it is the last day of the pay period and within that one-to-two-day window at beginning or ending of the month as recommended for CSRS retirement processing. I wanted to be sure I was an official federal retiree come Jan. 1. Won’t I then get that 1.5 percent COLA applied?
Q. I plan on retiring Jan. 11 or Feb. 22. With the 1 percent raise starting in January, wouldn’t it be better to wait until the February date to get the max from my 240 hours of use-or-lose leave, or would it not make a difference?
Q. I am 56 with eight years of service. With a reduction in force, would I qualify for a deferred annuity at 62? If so, is the formula still .01 percent of high-3 x eight years? Also, what about my health insurance? Would this be lost, or could I reapply at 62?
Q. I am 47 years old with 20 years in the Postal Service and am planning on separating soon. Will I be eligible to keep with my current insurance? How/where do I find how much more my premium will be? Will I get my 400+ hours of annual leave in a lump sum? How long does that take to process? (I can stay employed longer if the lump sum would still be applied to this year’s income for tax purposes.) Would I be eligible for any pension at age 59½? Would my seven months of unused sick leave count toward it?
Q. My husband is a government worker under FERS. He filed for Social Security disability and received his first check on Sept. 28 for August 2013. He was told that his FERS disability retirement of $3,114 would be reduced by 100 percent because he is receiving SSD. What does that mean? Would his SSD of $2,092 also be reduced? If he is awarded workers’ compensation, can he elect to receive that and stop the FERS disability and the Social Security disability?
Q. 2011+2012+2013 equates to three years of the unchanged salary for federal employees. For many of us, then, salary during that period would be considered when calculating the high-3 average assuming those are the highest. Recently, I asked human resources for a copy of my 2013 pay scale and was told because the budget has not been approved, there is no 2013 pay scale, that we are operating on a continuation of the 2012 pay scale. If that’s true, for a person retiring this year, assuming these are the highest salaries of consecutive years of service, will current salary (2013) be used as one of the three salaries in the equation, or will the equation be based on the average of 2010+2011+2012/13 salaries?
Q. I have 22 years for FERS service but resigned at age 42.
1. When will I be eligible for my annuity?
2. Can I begin taking money earlier? If so, what is the penalty?
3. Do I still calculate my benefits as 22 percent of my high-3, provided I begin withdrawals at age 62?
Q. I’m 49 years old and I have 18 years in with the post office. I’m under FERS. I want to get in my 20 years and then I want to leave the post office and open up a catering business. When I leave the post office, will I be able to draw on my 20 years at retirement age of 62 or will I lose the time I have in and end up with nothing for leaving early? If I get anything, how will I know how much I can expect to get?
Q. I am 73 years old and working with veterans benefits. My health and medical issues are forcing me to investigate potential retirement options. I have four years of civilian federal service under FERS and also have four years of military service. I draw nondisability Social Security. What retirement options do I have available?
Q. I am considering applying for a FERS disability retirement. I understand the percentages of pay and applying for Social Security disability if Social Security approves disability also. If you file for FERS disability retirement, you must at the same time file for Social Security disability benefits. If you do not, the Office of Personnel Management will not process your application. Based on this statement, is it true that OPM could approve, however Social Security may not approve, as they have different standards? What happens if Social Security does not approve. Will I continue to get the unreduced monthly annuity from OPM?
Q. I am an attorney for the government under FERS. I plan to retire in 2014 with 30 years of service at age 58. My high-3 is $150,000 a year. When I ran the numbers through the FERS calculator, it stated that my special retirement supplement would only be $108 a month. My only income will be my FERS annuity, and I plan to buy the Thrift Savings Plan annuity. Is this correct? I thought my SRS would be around $1,200 a month. My Social Security Administration statement states that age 62, my Social Security benefit will be approximately $1,800 a month.
Q. I am 45 years old with 15 years of FERS. My job is being moved 85 miles away and I am trying to determine the benefit (if any) to my FERS pension (beyond the addition of five years to the total) of continuing on five more years until I have 20 years and am 50 years old. Resign now with 15 years at 45 years old vs. tough out the drive for five more years and resign at 20 years at 50 years old? What advantage is there to this (if any) on my FERS pension?