Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

No need to stop special retirement supplement

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am a retired federal law enforcement officer receiving a FERS supplement. I turned 62 on March 17, which means my FERS supplement should end. However, when I looked on the OPM website, I saw where the supplement will be included in my April pay. Do I have to initiate action to stop the supplement, or will it be done automatically ?

A. You don’t have to do anything. The special retirement supplement ends on the last day of the month in which a retiree turns age 62. Because annuity payments are made retroactively, your April payment was for the month of March.

Credit for military service in FERS retirement

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am a carrier with the USPS and recently paid back 14 years of active-duty military service toward my FERS retirement. I will be eligible for a Guard/reservist retirement at age 60. If I retire at age 62 from FERS and am applying the 14 years I bought back toward my annuity computation at that time, does it mean I have to waive my military retirement I will have been receiving since age 60? If so, to get two retirements I would only be using my Postal Service time for computation. Did I waste my time buying back the 14 years since I can only apply them toward one retirement? If this is true, can I still get the money back? Read the rest of this entry »

Creditable civilian service

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am 65 and have been working for federal government (FERS system) since June 7, 2010. I also bought back three years of military service during the first four months I was working for federal government. I have a service comp date of 6/14/2007.  I want to retire, but when I called the Army Benefits Center, they said that I needed five years of creditable civilian service and that the three years I bought back did not go toward the five-year creditable civilian service. The Office of Personnel Management and other areas state that Military buyback time goes toward creditable service towards FERS. Will my military buyback service of three years go toward the five-year requirement to receive immediate benefits?   Read the rest of this entry »

FERS and medical retirement

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am 67 years old and still working Civil Service with the Air Force. I was not planning on retiring anytime soon, but I fell at work, completely tore up my shoulder and will have to undergo reverse total shoulder replacement. I have been told this is a “career ender” and that I will be medically retired. I have been paying into FERS for 30+ years. I am drawing an allotment from the VA for Agent Orange diabetes mellitus. How do medical retirement and FERS and VA allotment work together? Read the rest of this entry »

CSRS annuity calculation and FERS

Bookmark and Share

Q. I switched from CSRS to FERS with about 10 years in CSRS and 25.5 yrs in FERS. When my service in CSRS is calculated, my total service, including 918 hours of frozen sick leave, equals 10 years 2 months and 17 days.  Is there any way to apply the 17 days to either credit service in CSRS or even FERS (17 days in CSRS is worth more than 34 days in FERS) or do I just lose the 17 days? Read the rest of this entry »

VA disability and FERS medical

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am a civilian FERS employee who received a work related injury.  Right now, I’m in the process of buying back my active military service (four years).  My injury is one that may eventually put me out on FERS medical retirement.  Can I collect federal medical retirement and VA disability?  Would it be beneficial for me to stop my military buyback? 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 »

Planning for retirement

Bookmark and Share

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 »

Late application for FERS annuity

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am 64 years old. From 1986 to 1995, I worked for the federal government and was covered by FERS. I just now realized that I may be eligible for a pension, starting at age 62. If I apply now, will I be somehow able to recover the two years’ worth of payments that I did not collect? Can I wait even longer, until the time that my total income (and my tax bracket) will be lower than it is now? Read the rest of this entry »

Involuntary termination annuity penalties

Bookmark and Share

Q. I have been working as a term federal employee paid by a research grant and covered by FERS. The funding for my position may end soon, forcing me to be involuntarily terminated from my position at age 58 with 29 years towards retirement. I understand that if I quit voluntarily and took an immediate annuity it would be reduced because I am under age 62. However, if I were permanent and were involuntarily separated I would not see this reduction. Since I am term and separated involuntarily, will I have a reduction in an immediate annuity? Read the rest of this entry »

Conditions of new federal position

Bookmark and Share

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 »

FERS rehired annuitant and VERA/VSIP

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am a discontinued service rehired annuitant. I worked at a U.S. Army post and was phased out during a base closure and realignment in 2011. I received priority placement in 2012 at a nearby Army post and was rehired. I’ve been here almost two years. VERA/VSIP is now being offered with a $25,000 buyout. I have the age and years in. I’m not interested in leaving yet; but as a FERS rehired annuitant, would I be eligible for the VERA/VSIP $25,000 buyout presently being offered? Read the rest of this entry »

FERS retirement with military credit

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am considering accepting an excepted service position. I am 55 years old and have no prior civil service. However, I do have 17 years of active duty service with the military and am retired from the Naval Reserve. I will begin collecting my pension for my Naval Reserve service at age 60. In reading about retirement under FERS, it seems to me that I could retire at age 65 under FERS using the MRA + 10 provision. Is it also correct that I could pay a deposit for my 17 years of active military service, subsequently receiving FERS credit for 27 years of service (17 years military active duty + 10 years service as a federal civilian employee), while still receiving my pension from the Navy Reserve?
Read the rest of this entry »

Credit for CSRS service

Bookmark and Share

Q. I joined the federal government on Dec. 19, 1983, under CSRS and later switched to FERS in January 1988. No social security was paid in from 1984 to 1987. I am planning to retire now, and this is my first and last job in the federal government.

Will my 4 years of service under CSRS ( 1984-1987) will be credited to FERS? Read the rest of this entry »

LEO and ATC coverage

Bookmark and Share

Q. I have a unique situation that I would appreciate some clarification on regarding the FERS Special Retirement Provision. I am a current federal law enforcement officer with 12 years of creditable code M coverage. Prior to becoming a federal employee, I was an air traffic controller in the military. I now have an opportunity to change my position to become a GS-2152 air traffic controller with the Defense Department. My question, since both law enforcement officer and air traffic controller positions have special retirement provisions, is how would my retirement calculation be handled? Would I still be able to retire under special provisions at 20 years/50 yrs old?

Read the rest of this entry »

Foreign pension and WEP

Bookmark and Share

Q. I have been a FERS employee since 1985 and this year will have 28 years of Social Security substantial earnings.

I was born in the U.K., a U.K. citizen, and worked there in the 1970s before marrying and emigrating to the U.S. with my U.S. Navy husband. I am now eligible to receive a U.K. state pension, 10 years of which are based on employment.

I am now told that my U.K. pension is subject to the windfall elimination provision, as those 10 years are not covered by Social Security. This seems grossly unfair as, at the time I earned my U.K. salary, I was not a U.S. citizen, resident or employee, and had no intentions of becoming one.

Read the rest of this entry »

Military buyback and career status

Bookmark and Share

Q. 1. I have three years of active duty in the Army from 1976 to 1979. I have been a federal employee in the Indian Health Service for 2½ years. I am at GP Grade 12, Step 3. I receive a basic pay and a locality pay. My service computation date for leave is May 8, 2008. My retirement plan is FERS and FICA. FLSA category is exempt.

I have recently learned that I can buy back my military time in active duty, but I do not understand what this means. What exactly am I buying back, and how is this reflected on my retirement?

2. At this time, my position occupied is competitive service. After three years as a federal employee, your position occupied will convert to career status. If I buy back my time in the military, will those three years of active duty be added to my 2½ years of federal employment to bring me to a total of 5½ years, putting me into career status?

Read the rest of this entry »

Buying back LWOP for annuity calculation

Bookmark and Share

Q. At 19, I was recruited and placed into a civilian Defense Department position as a cooperative education student. I would be placed on leave without pay during periods when I was attending college and not working. This continued for five years. My start date was June 1980 and I finished my degree in August 1985. My service computation date is April 1982. Is there an option to buy those LWOP periods to bring my SCD to 1980?

Read the rest of this entry »

Spousal annuity and dual career FERS employees

Bookmark and Share

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?

Read the rest of this entry »

Military retirement deferment

Bookmark and Share

Q. I have read on your site where, in some instances, military retirees are told when they retire from there civilian job, they will be required to waive their military retired pay. At times, they are told they can receive both pensions. I am a National Guardsman with 24 years on active duty. I plan on accepting a federal position (GS). If I leave active duty and revert to M-Day (weekend duty) in the National Guard, buy back my years in the federal system and work for five to eight years until age 56½, will I be able to collect both pensions upon retirement? Will I collect a federal pension at 56½ and have to wait until age 60 for military pension? If, before age 56½, I go back on active duty for a year, how will that be affected?

Read the rest of this entry »