By Reg Jones
Q. I am in CSRS. I want to retire Jan. 11, 2014, as I will be on a mission trip out of the country from Christmas until Jan. 9, 2014, and I would like to get paid for my unused annual leave for 2012. I understand that I will not receive a retirement check for that month since it is past the third day of the month. I have had Federal Employees Health Benefits coverage since Jan. 12, 2009. Does that qualify as five years of health coverage? What will happen to my health coverage for the rest of January as I won’t receive a check for that month?
Q. I work as a staff physician for the Veterans Affairs Department. I previously completed my four-year residency at a university that required extensive time working at the local Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Do those four years count as government service toward my retirement?
Q. I’m a rural mail carrier and am wondering if I would qualify for an early out when/if offered. My duty date is April 1984 (29 years), but I was hired as a sub (rural carrier associate) and didn’t become regular until 1990, so my retirement computation date is January 1990 (23 years). But I recently turned 49, so I would need 25 years of service to retire under an early out because I am under age 50. I would have 25 years in if the counting period included my sub years.
Are my years of service calculated from when I was hired as an RCA in 1984 or when I went full time in 1990? I realize my annuity would be based on my full-time service, but would my years to total service be calculated with my part-time years? I realize rural carriers have not been offered early-outs yet , but there is much talk about it, and I’m afraid if they offer it before I turn 50 , I won’t qualify since much of my time was as a sub carrier.
Q. I was given a directed reassignment from Washington, D.C., to St. Louis, to be effective this July. At that time, I will have the age and 29 years and eight months of service (CSRS), four months shy of 30 years of service in a quasi-government agency. If I refuse the directed reassignment (paid for by the government) what penalties would be applied to my retirement, if any?
There is a catch: If I accept the directed reassignment, I will not be allowed to retire for two years from the effective date of the reassignment. If I accept and retire before the two-year period, I will have to repay all expenses associated with the direct reassignment. If I do not accept the reassignment I will have to choose from the following options:
Voluntary optional retirement
Lump-sum payment of retirement contributions
Availability of other nonbargaining vacancies
Volunteering for a craft position, or
Resignation in lieu of involuntary separation.
Q. My previous and current employers added seven years to my service computation date for my work at USDA from April 1, 1981, through March 31, 1988.
The credit is documented in SF-50-B forms from these agencies dated Oct. 15, 1994, and Feb. 19, 1995. My current employer’s Employee Self Service website also incorporates this seven-year credit in calculating my estimated monthly annuity. My current employer’s HR unit, however, will give me only one year and two months’ credit under FERS for my work at USDA because the work was part time.
Since more than five years of my service at USDA took place before FERS started, am I entitled to an annuity calculated under CSRS rather than FERS rules?
Q. I’m curious as to whether a year of paid internship in clinical psychology (1991-92) will count toward my years of retirement. I have been employed in the Veterans Affairs Department for 20 years.
Q. My entrance on-duty date is May 1971, and I was reading that employees stop getting the government contribution to their retirement at 41 years one month. Would this apply for part-time employees? If not (being optimistic), would they factor in the part-time years of service and add on the years to equate to this timeline? For example, for someone who worked 10 years at 20 hours a week, deduct five years and continue contribution till the total 41 years one month are completed. Also, is there a ratio of how many retirees elect to take out an insurance policy on their spouse versus opting to pay for the survivor benefit? I find many elect to do the insurance option due to cost savings.
Q. I’m 52½ years old. I came into the civil service as an air reserve technician in April 2007. I bought back 10 years of active-duty service, which brings me to 16 years creditable service. In 2008, I had a botched surgery and have also developed a foot problem, both no fault of my own. My case is being reviewed by a medical evaluation board. If I lose my dual status, under these circumstances, can I remain in my job as civil servant, or will I be offered a civil service position to remain in the civil service until I retire in 2020? Title 10 USC 10218 says I would. USAFR Instruction 136-114 says I would.
However, I have heard that I would only be considered for a position should one exist at my current assigned base and under my current wage grade (WG-11). If none exists, I would be medically retired and qualify only for an annuity, based on my creditable service of 16 years. I think it’s 25 percent of my annual salary at 16 years. I do not think I would qualify to draw my Social Security. However, I haven’t been able to find any directives stating these rules within the laws or regulations governing air reserve technicians. Can you advise?
Q. I served four years active duty from 1972 to 1976. I started working for the Veterans Administration in 1983 until current under CSRS. Human Resources at that time was having issues and the staff overhauled. I was not informed about the military buyback until several years later, when I was told it was called Catch-62.
I am told I now have 34 years federal time, however only the 30 years at VA count toward retirement pension. I sent the forms to check what I would have to pay back, and was told it is around $6,000 because of the interest the government added. Is it worth it for me to try to pay $50 a month to try to buy back some of the time if I plan to retire within next five years?
Q. I served in the Army (active duty) from 1982 to 1986 and bought this time back. I have worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for six years and with the Army Corps of Engineers for 13 years for a total of 23 years. After my active duty, I served in the Army Reserve for two years (1987-88). Does the time I went on weekend drill for two years and the time I went on annual two-week training count as federal time? Can I buy back this time?
April 24th, 2013 | annuity reduction Creditable service: CSRS Creditable service: FERS CSRS annuity computation EMPLOYMENT FERS annuity computation Minimum retirement age Re-employment RETIREMENT term employee
Q. I was allowed to go back into CSRS after an 18-year break in service even though I cashed out of it in 1991, with eight years of service. I can pay the redeposit back and have 12 years of service, if that is the wise thing, but I am waiting to see if I get a permanent job when this temporary job expires in 2014. Since I am only 54, I am beginning to wonder if I should have gone back into CSRS, because if I can’t find another federal job, and it is looking difficult with the budget questions, I still have to wait till age 62 to retire in CSRS, whereas if I were in FERS, I could retire at 55. Am I missing something?
Q. I started my employment as a CC military spouse in Germany in 1981 (no military service myself), then resigned (as we were directed) just before we returned to the U.S. in late 1983. I got picked up into a fed position in September 1984, which set the dates for leave and retirement as 1982. I had been told I was FERS at that time, and I have been contributing and planning toward that, along with attending the FERS retirement classes. However, when I received an estimate for retirement last year, I was told that I was CSRS Offset, with four years and 10 months of creditable service before being picked up in the U.S. I emailed with HR to make sure of that, and the HR person said that I was CSRS offset.
I now have 31 years of federal employment, and thought I had figured out my retirement numbers, until I received the CSRS offset news.
Since I haven’t firmly fixed a date to retire, I hadn’t really looked into it, but now I am wondering what that means exactly with regard to my retirement numbers.
Q. I worked with the government for about five years with the Peace Corps and then I was a personal services contractor for about four years (2000-2004) with the U.S. Agency for International Development. I then joined USAID as a foreign services officer doing the same job I did as a personal services contractor. USAID credited my Peace Corps time. I would like my four years as a personal services contractor with USAID to count toward my retirement since I was doing the same job that I did as a foreign services officer. What can/should I do?
Tags: creditable service
Q. I need your help in calculating my future annual or monthly annuity. I’m 57, birth year 1955. I’m waiting until I’m 62 to ask for my monthly annuity.
I was hired in 1995 into the GS system. I left in 2008.
Would my high-3 be my GS salary? It was averaged out using 1 percent of my high-3 to $560.48 x 15 years creditable service = $8,407.20 annual annuity divided by 12 months, which would be $700.60 a month. Is this correct? Am I still eligible for this monthly annuity, even though I left federal service? I have not received any refund.
February 27th, 2012 | Creditable service: CSRS
Q: I am a 57-year-old CSRS employee with 35 1/2 years creditable service. I am eligible to retire now (since June 21, 2009) but enjoy the challenge of my job, so I have stayed on. I gave serious consideration to retiring Dec. 31, 2011, but I am not 100 percent certain that is what I want to do (my wife wants to work a while longer). Am I running a risk of losing any benefits by staying a while longer? What is the minimum amount of time required after mailing my retirement application, and the effective date I retire?
A: As to your first question, at this point, no one knows what risk you are taking by staying on. Only time will tell. On your second question, you can submit your paperwork up to the day you leave work. However, prudence suggests that you let your employer know what your plans are well in advance and that you take enough time to have your application reviewed by your personnel office. The consequences of putting your application in at the last minute include having it bounce because of errors or omissions and/or delays in processing by your agency that keep you from getting your initial interim annuity payment until months after you leave.
Q. I am 61 years old and in the Civil Service Retirement System. I have paid back my military deposit, and don’t have enough quarters/credits under Social Security to qualify. I am anticipating retiring when I am 62-plus, and don’t plan on working to earn quarters/credits under Social Security. I have heard that I can request a refund of my military deposit after I retire; is this correct? If so, who handles that request?
A. You were misinformed. You can’t get a refund of the deposit you made for your active-duty service. What’s done is done. If you retire at age 62 and aren’t eligible for a Social Security benefit at that time, you’ll never have to worry about losing those years and having your annuity recomputed. OPM only checks once with the Social Security Administration: at age 62, if you are already retired or when you retire, if it’s after you reach age 62. Note: The “no refund” rule doesn’t apply to employees who resign from the government and ask for a refund of all their retirement contributions or to those who have retired from active duty, make a deposit to get credit for that time, and, at retirement, decide not to waive their military retired pay.
Q. I’m told employees stop getting the government contribution to their retirement at 41 years, 1 month, of service, but can get a lump sum when they retire. This doesn’t quite make sense to me. Is there any other option? I will reach this much service time in February 2012. I am age 67, in the Civil Service Retirement System, and plan on continuing to work.
A. Here’s the story. When a CSRS-covered employee has worked for 41 years and 11 months, he’s earned the maximum annuity based on actual service that’s allowed under law: 80 percent of his high-3. Although retirement deductions continue to be taken from his pay, they will be returned to him, with interest, and he will have the option of accepting the payment or using it to buy additional annuity that isn’t subject to the 80 percent limit. Note: Credit for unused sick leave also isn’t subject to the 80 percent limit.
Q. I have a question about early outs. I am 53 and have 25 years of Federal Employees Retirement System service. If an offer is made in 2012, will I be penalized for the number of years I am under age 62? Reading the past posts, I am confused. Also, are health benefits based on the non-postal rate for federal employees? Is unused sick leave added to the annuity or years of service in the coming year?
A. Retiring CSRS employees are penalized for being under regular retirement age; retiring FERS employees aren’t. The premium rates for retired Postal Service employees are the same as those for all other employees and retirees. The lower premium rate for Postal Service employees is the result of union contract negotiations, which don’t carry over into retirement. FERS employees retiring before Jan. 1, 2014, will only get half credit for their unused sick leave; after that, they’ll get full credit.
Q. I am a Civil Service Retirement System/Federal Employees Retirement System offset employee with 31 years of service, and I have been offered Voluntary Early Retirement Authority and Voluntary Separation Incentive Payments (VERA/VSIP). I would like to know how a VERA/VSIP would affect my retirement. I have been depositing the maximum in my TSP account, and I see that the government is not required to match it. Does government matching or not matching my deposit depend on the agency I work for?
A. To estimate what your annuity would be, use the formulas for each retirement system:
FERS: 0.01 x your three highest consecutive years of average salary (your high-3) x all years and full months of FERS service.
CSRS: 0.015 x your high-3 x 5 years of CSRS service, plus 0.0175 x your high-3 x 5 years of CSRS service, plus
0.02 x your high-3 x all remaining years and full months of CSRS service.
Unused sick leave that doesn’t exceed the amount you had to your credit when you transferred to FERS will be added to your CSRS service. If you retire before 2013, half of any remaining hours will be added to your FERS service. In both cases, hours that don’t add up to a month (approximately 174 hours) will be dropped.
As a FERS employee, if you retire before age 62, you will be entitled to the special retirement supplement, which is approximately the amount of Social Security benefit earned while you were a FERS employee. Here’s the formula: Social Security benefit estimate provided by the Social Security Administration x total years of FERS service rounded up to the next higher year divided by 40.
The basic rules on the amount of a Voluntary Separation Incentive Payment are as follows: An amount equal to the severance pay you would be entitled to, without an adjustment for any previous payments made or an amount determined by the head of your agency, not to exceed $25,000. Only your agency can tell you if you’re eligible for a VSIP and, if so, in what amount.
Q. Does the reduced annuity under age 55 apply to Civil Service Retirement System law enforcement officers who opt to take the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority and Voluntary Separation Incentive Payments (VERA/VISP)? Or is the CSRS law enforcement category exempt from this reduction?
A. Assuming that you aren’t talking about retiring as a CSRS law enforcement officer, the law enforcement category isn’t exempt. The 2 percent reduction for being under age 55 would apply. On the other hand, if you are talking about a CSRS law enforcement officer who retires under the special age and service criteria – age 50 with 20 years of service - then he wouldn’t be retiring early and the reduction for being under age 55 wouldn’t apply. Accepting a VSIP wouldn’t change the picture in either case.