Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Planning for retirement

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Q. I will be 62 the end of June this year. I am in FERS, would like to retire this year and am trying to make a sound decision regarding what date would be best.
1) I have 918 sick hours accumulated. Will they convert 100% into service time?
2) When trying to calculate how much I will get for retirement, is it based on basic pay or total pay with locality adjustment?
3) Is there any penalty if I retire at age 62 if I have less than 20 years of FERS service?
4) Is there any offset with Social Security? Read the rest of this entry »

High-3 and locality pay

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Q. I live in the Boston commuting area. My salary includes locality pay. My SF-52 shows basic pay and locality pay for a total adjusted basic pay. When factoring my high-3 average, is it based on my total adjusted basic pay, which includes the locality pay?

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Terminal leave payments

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Q. The following is from the U.S. Postal Service Employment and Labor Relations Manual:

512.732 Entitlement Amounts
Separating employees may receive lump-sum terminal leave payments as follows:

Nonbargaining Unit Employees. Nonbargaining unit employees may receive a lump-sum leave payment for accumulated annual leave carried over from the previous year; accrued annual leave for the year in which they separate, including amounts over the carryover maximum; any unused donated leave; and for full-time and part-time regular employees, holidays that fall within the terminal leave period.
I retired Oct. 31 with an annual leave balance of 576 hours, for which I received a lump-sum payment.

That balance, if used, would have carried me into February 2014. Shouldn’t I have also been paid for all the holidays between my retirement date and the time my annual leave would have been exhausted?

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Locality pay

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Q. If a civil servant moves after retirement into an area with a higher locality pay (i.e., the rest of U.S. to the Boston area), do their retirement benefits adjust to meet the need of living in the new area?

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Disability retirement and locality pay

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 Q. I am a FERS employee being considered for the 60/40 disability retirement. When calculating the amount the person receives based on the high-3 average, is locality pay included? Also, if locality pay is included, is the disability payment adjusted if the person moves to a different locality?

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Locality pay and NAF-to-GS transition

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Q. In August 2006, I was hired as a marketing/outreach/sponsorship director (nonappropriated funds). My responsibilities grew to include a supervisory role of the graphics department (two employees).

In August 2012, I had the opportunity to apply — and was selected for — public affairs specialist (1035-9). I am now the deputy public affairs officer. I was told that, with an NAF-to-GS transition, my pay would rise only to the next step. My concern is that the human resources office included locality pay as part of the equation in determining my GS pay. I didn’t receive locality pay at NAF and the cost-of-living adjustment was frozen. My annual pay at NAF was $53,000. My basic pay now is $44,333 but adding $9,217 in locality boosts the total to $53,550.

When I questioned the HR person, she said that was the way the rules were set up. Yet, the job announcement listed the salary for position at $50,000 to $65,000. This still doesn’t make sense to me. Can you help me understand the effect of locality pay on determining salary for NAF who transition to GS?

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NAREAA buyback

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Q. Public Law 111-84 provided for a phased-in conversion from nonforeign area cost-of-living allowances to locality pay over a three-year period beginning in 2010.  Since the three year phase-in period has been extended (no change in COLA in 2013 or increase to locality rate as anticipated), doesn’t that change the rules for the buyback period, too? Shouldn’t we be allowed to buy back up to the time the final/full locality rate is actually achieved? Do you feel this is something worth pursuing?

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Locality pay

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Q. If I am a GS-12, Step 3 with the locality of rest of the U.S. and move to Houston, would I get pay at the Houston locality as a GS-12, Step 3?

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Locality pay and high-3

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Q. For FERS retirement purposes, what pay is used for 78 pay periods of high-3 average basic pay calculations: basic pay or adjusted basic pay with locality adjustments?

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Locality pay and high-3

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Q. I will be eligible to retire Aug. 3, 2016 (55 years old, 37 years of service – CSRS). I work in D.C., and the cost of living is added to my salary. Do I use this figure or the figure before the cost-of-living allowance to calculate my high-3 salary?

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Retiring from overseas

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Q. Since my high-3 occurred in San Antonio between 2005 and 2009, will my locality pay associated with that period be incorporated into my retirement pay if I elected to retire immediately after returning to the U.S., or will I have to take an assignment in the U.S. and remain on station for a year to receive the locality pay of that region?

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Locality pay changes

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Q. If the locality pay changes after I start receiving retirement pay, will my retirement amount change by the same percentage, or does it have no impact?

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COLA conversion to locality pay

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Q. Checking to see if you have any information when the cost-of-living adjustment for Hawaii will be completely converted to locality pay.

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Disability retirement

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Q. I am 43 and recently was retired on FERS disability from federal service due to multiple sclerosis. I know that a person can’t make over 80 percent of their base pay and not have their retirement suspended.

I have three questions:

1. When they say base pay, is that just the general base pay for everyone, or does that include the locality pay? I’m in San Francisco.

2. If I’m able to be re-employed (nonfederal) and exceed the 80 percent threshold from this point forward, will I be able to get my federal retirement at age 62?

3. If I make over the 80 percent for a limited time, will I be able to be reinstated after my wages fall below the 80 percent?

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