By Reg Jones
Q. I turned 55 in April and have more than 33 years in CSRS. I have 3,069 hours of accumulated sick leave, and 304 hours of annual leave in my current year balance, 164 restored annual leave with a term date of January 2014, and 444 hours of restored annual leave with a term date of January 2015. To get credit for my sick leave, I need to retire with total service and sick leave equaling a multiple of 174 hours? And, I’ll get a lump-sum payout from my annual leave of 912 hours at my current hourly rate?
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 am planning on retiring when I am 60. I will have 16.5 years of law enforcement employment (age waiver for entrance). I also have bought back 9¼ years’ active-duty time. Will I get the special rate of 1.7 percent for my law enforcement time and then 1 percent for the buyback time?
Q. I will be retiring from federal employment soon. My service time exceeds 41 years and 11 months. I’m in CSRS. How are the retirement contributions beyond this service time handled?
Q. I am a 66-year-old CSRS employee still working. Can I draw Social Security on my wife’s Social Security? She is a 70-year-old retired FERS employee.
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. I have heard a rumor that President Obama changed the Office of Personnel Management guidelines regarding the sale back of accrued sick leave. Do you know of such a change? I will be leaving federal service in August and have quite a bit of sick leave. I will not be retiring because I don’t have five years’ service.
Q. I received a refund of my CSRS contributions when I separated from federal service in 1993. Four years later, I returned to federal service. I am CSRS offset.
Because I withdrew my contributions from CSRS, and federal service where Social Security taxes are withheld is not affected by the windfall elimination provision, will withdrawing CSRS contributions change my Social Security benefit when I retire?
Q. After 25 years of service, I was approved for OWCP disability. Now, 15 years later and at age 68, I am still receiving the annuity. If I die still receiving OWCP benefits, will my wife receive survivor benefits from my CSRS service? Should I leave the money in the CSRS or draw it out?
Q. I am a federal worker at a VA hospital. I am a General Schedule employee under CSRS. I switched to night shift and work lots of weekends to boost my last three years of earnings. I read in OPM under CSRS/retirement/High-3 Average Salary, “Your basic pay is the basic salary you earn for your position. It includes increases to your salary for which retirement deductions are withheld, such as shift rates. It does not include payments for overtime, bonuses, etc.”
I still am not sure if night shift will work out to a bigger retirement annuity. I make plenty more in my night differential pay for night tour. What I noticed is retirement deductions in my Pay Statements remained the same as before when I worked the day shift. This is puzzling.
Q. I was a nonappropriated funds government employee from 1979 to 1990 holding UA7, UA8 and UA9 positions (AAFES and Army NAF). I resigned in 1990 and have worked in the private sector since.
Now I plan to return to federal government employment as a GS5 or GS7.
How will my service time count toward retirement, and is it possible to repay my NAF pension funds into the system? Also, how will my accrued sick leave be handled?
Q. I have been a FERS employee since 1991. I heard that if I stay for about 42 years, my retirement benefit will be at its highest. Is this true?
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 retired from the Department of Housing and Urban Development on Jan. 3, 2007, after working there for 33½ years plus 1½ years of credit for accumulated sick leave. I elected to provide full survivor’s benefits to my wife.
Can I determine what my annuity would have been had I not elected to provide full survivor’s benefits to my wife? I know this information was provided to me before I decided to retire, but I cannot locate those documents.
Q. I am retired under CSRS. I am 60. I have four years of military time that I have not paid back.
I have 22 quarters of Social Security. If I start working in the private sector, I will not acquire 40 credits by my 62nd birthday. Can I still have my CSRS retirement reduced if I acquire 40 credits after my 62nd birthday?
Q. My husband worked for the government for 25 years under CSRS and receives a pension. When he retired, we applied for spousal benefits because I had no qualifying employment. He then went to work in the private sector and will complete his 30 years of substantial earnings for Social Security next year. When he retires, he will receive another pension from his private job. As we understand it, we should not be affected by the windfall elimination provision. However, we are confused by the government pension offset. Will he not be entitled to draw his full Social Security at age 66 or later? How will it affect my half of his Social Security payments? How will it affect my spousal benefit of his federal pension should he die before I do? Am I correct in understanding that the pensions are not considered earned income and should not reduce the Social Security amount?
Q. I am a federal law enforcement retiree after serving 22 years (GS-13) and reaching the maximum age limit. I may have an opportunity to work for a federal agency in a permanent position GS-12. What will the ramifications be on my retirement?
Q. I came to the Postal Service under CSRS in 1983. I paid back my four years of active duty into my retirement, which made my annuity date 1979. While continuing my postal career, I served 18 years in the reserve for a total of 22 military years. Those 18 years in the reserve put me over my 40 quarters for Social Security, but I did not pay them into my CSRS retirement. I’m now 60 with over 33 years CSRS and my military retirement just kicked in. I have a target of age 62 for retirement from CSRS.
My most recent Social Security benefits statement shows me receiving a fairly decent benefit. But I believe the windfall elimination provision will wipe out most if not all of it. How much of a reduction can I expect? Does the WEP version of the online calculator provide a fairly decent estimate?
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?