By Reg Jones
Q. You responded to a recent question regarding someone retiring from the Senate at age 50 with 21 years of service. He asked if he would be eligible for the special retirement supplement at age 56. You responded by saying yes if he was FERS. If I work for the Postal Service and have almost 28 years, am 58 years of age, and am under FERS, would I be eligible for the supplement if I retired?
Q. I am a CSRS employee with 32 years of service. I am 52 years old. Under a Voluntary Early Retirement Authority/Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay program, could I apply for early retirement and not be penalized for the years before age 55?
Q. I have 34 years of civilian service. I heard a rumor that the people under CSRS might get offered 80 percent of their pay to retire. Could this possibly happen?
Q. I am a Postal Service letter carrier under FERS retirement. I would like to retire Oct. 1 (early retirement). I will be 59 with 27 years of service. Will I qualify for the supplemental annuity at 60? And how can I calculate that annuity?
Q. I’m 62 and have worked for the federal government for 35 years. I know I have the age and years of service to retire, but if my agency offers a buyout, would I get penalized and reduce my annuity if I accepted it?
Q. I am 55 with 36 years of federal employment, including two one-year breaks in service. The last break was in 1985. I withdrew the funds I had paid into CSRS each time I broke service and have repaid a minimal amount of it. I thought I would be one of those people who worked forever; however, I have a progressively degenerative medical condition and likely will not be able to work more than another year at the most. I am totally ignorant about retirement and to what benefits I am entitled. For example, will my pension benefits be reduced because I am retiring early? Do I continue to pay the same health insurance rates once I retire until I become eligible for Medicare? Will my health benefits remain the same until I become eligible for Medicare? I used the pension calculator and am more confused. For example, I calculated using the percentage for the first five years and the different percentage for the next five years, and then the 2 percent for the remaining years past 10. Is this the amount plus interest, plus matching funds what I pay into CSRS from my paycheck, or do I have to do yet other calculations? I have requested a meeting with my HR department, but it has to wait until it receives information for payroll and tells me it will be weeks before I can get a meeting. My neurosurgeon and neurologist are telling me I should consider retiring immediately, but I need to make this major decision as knowledgeably as possible.
Q. I have 20 years of military service and will have 10 years three months of federal service when I am scheduled to return from overseas. I will be 52½. I want to submit for early retirement with 30 years’ combined service. Should I buy back my military time or receive dual retirement if my request for early retirement is approved?
Q. I was just notified that my commander would like to meet to offer me early retirement. I am 51 years old but only have 12 years civil service. I retired from active duty with 20 years before that and am collecting my retirement. My position was eliminated over a year ago and I am thinking this is why it’s being offered. Any advice?
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 retired with the VERA/VSIP on April 30, 2012. I chose the option to receive my $25,000 bonus in two installments, half six months from the date I retired and the other half six months later. I received the first installment and was told I would receive the second installment April 30, 2013. I have not received it. What do I need to do?
Q. I work for USPS under FERS. On Feb. 4, 2015, I will be 57 and have 30 years of service. I will also have approximately six months of sick leave. Can I use my sick leave as days worked and retire six months earlier?
Q. I’ve worked 10 years as a government employee, and I’m 58 years old. Can I retire early?
Q. I am 53 with 30-plus years of excepted civil service with the National Guard. I believe my MRA is 56. At age 56, can I voluntarily retire with no penalties? Could I voluntarily retire early?
Q. I took early retirement from the post office Feb. 28, 2009, with 26 years of service at age 48. Will I be eligible for supplemental income at age 56?
Q. I’m about to turn 55 in May and will have 20 years at a quasi-government agency (Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.) under FERS in July. My benefit statement indicates that I am eligible for ‘Voluntary Early or Discontinued’ in July with the early retirement if my agency has authority. The agency is reorganizing and human resources advised that they have sought approval from the Office of Personnel Management to offer buyouts and were awaiting a response from OPM. But HR was not sure how selectively my agency would offer them or whether they would only be offered to specific (and rumored) departments.
1) Is the proper or formal way to make it known that I’m interested via HR, or should I just wait for a possible announcement from the agency?
2) Could you explain the FERS supplemental annuity and whether it would apply in my case and when?
3) I work as a program analyst in a department full of financial analysts, and they would love to replace my position with a financial analyst position. Is it likely the department would be amenable to qualify my position as ‘voluntary discontinued’ due to job abolishment, thereby qualifying me for the ‘voluntary discontinued’ early retirement option? If so, would it be a good idea to have them initiate the effort to qualify me for the voluntary early?
Q. If a base is closed due to BRAC, what are the early retirement options?
Q. I am a CSRS employee who will be turning 55 in January. I will have 32 years of service. If I retire during the summer of this year, how much will I be penalized?
Q. I am a FERS employee who will be retiring under early retirement rules for air traffic control. I will turn 55 in April 2014 and plan to retire Jan. 4, 2014. Everything I read says that if I retire in the year I turn 55, there will be no early withdrawal penalty for my Thrift Savings Plan. My human resources specialist says I must retire after I turn 55 — after my birthday in April. Which is correct?
I also understand the advantages of retiring close to the end of the month, ideally the last day. However, Jan. 4 works better for me. I understand that I basically won’t be getting any pay until the annuity begins Feb. 1. My HR specialist tells me that my benefits, health, life, dental, etc., will not be in effect from the time I leave service (Jan. 4) until my annuity begins (Feb. 1), so basically no benefits in the month of January. I haven’t read this anywhere. Is it true?
February 22nd, 2012 | Early retirement
Q: The congressional supercommittee proposed eliminating the FERS supplement. The committee failed to reach agreement, but I can’t help but think these proposals will surface again. Had they been successful, would this elimination have applied to all employees retiring under FERS after enaction of their proposals? Or would it only have applied to new hires with less than five years of service? What if an employee retired under early out provisions before enaction? I’m 53 with 30 years of service and won’t be eligible for the FERS supplement until October of 2014. If the proposed action would have passed or has potential to pass in the future, do you know if I would be affected, or would still be eligible for the supplement if I took the early out before it’s enacted?
A: You want what you can’t have, a prediction of future events. You’ll just have to wait to see what changes, if any, occur and, if they do, how they will be applied.
February 16th, 2012 | Early retirement
Q: 1. Early retirement at age 51 and 23 years of service — If RIF, what will be offered to me for my retirement plan? 2. CSRS versus FERS — started with government on May 8, 1985; I started with CSRS and my agency changed me to FERS, because I was informed I should have been hired with FERS. 3. Quit government — Oct. 1, 2010, through April 7, 2011; worked as a contractor. How many years and months of service should I have reflected on my OFP records? 4. Promoted to GS-13-5 in 2009 — when should I expect another step increase?
A: When you entered the government in 1985, you were placed in an interim system – CSRS and Social Security. When FERS became effective Jan. 1, 1987, you were automatically transferred to FERS because you had fewer than 5 years of CSRS-covered service. Since you are a FERS employee, if you were eligible for early retirement, your annuity would be calculated using the following formula: 0.01 x your high-3 x your total years and full months of service. (If you didn’t receive a refund of your retirement contributions when you left government, you would receive credit for all the time you’ve worked for the government. If you took a refund, you wouldn’t get any credit for that time unless you repaid the amount, plus accrued interest.) As an early retiree, you wouldn’t be subject to the age age penalty for being under age 62. You would be eligible for the special retirement supplement when you reach your minimum retirement age, which in your case would be 56. Since you were placed in step 5 of your grade, assuming satisfactory performance, your next step increase would be due after 104 weeks.