Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Retiring under MRA

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Q. I am 52 with 31 years of FERS service. If I retire now, would I still get the special retirement supplement when I turn 56?  Or is that only if I were offered a voluntary retirement?  Can I get my retirement now? What is the penalty given my age and years of service? Read the rest of this entry »

Federal retirement

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Q. I spent eight years active duty in the Air Force as a physician in the late 1990s. I would like to end my career practicing at the VA. I am 59 years old. If I work at the VA for 11 years, I will only have 19 years of federal service. Will I be entitled to any federal government pension? Must I work a full 20 years for the Fed? Will that effect the Social Security funds that I have contributed to for the past 25 years? Read the rest of this entry »

FERS retirement calculations

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Q. You recently stated in your posts you can receive your FERS retirement benefits calculated at the rate of .011 with 20 years of service, at age 62. Does this benefit rate of 1.1, apply if you left your employment before the MRA (resigned), have more than 20 years of service and elect to receive a deferred retirement at age 62? At age 60, benefits are calculated at .01. Is there a choice? Read the rest of this entry »

Late application for FERS annuity

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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 »

Leaving federal service

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Q. I plan on leaving federal service with the VA after 15 years of employment, having worked various jobs at GS-7 and GS-5 levels. I will be 48 years old upon my voluntary leave. Can I collect my VA pension immediately or do I have to wait till I reach a certain age to collect a monthly pension? And if I can collect my VA pension now, can I continue to pay for health insurance via monthly deduction from the pension amount? Read the rest of this entry »

Deferred retirement at 31 years of service

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Q. I have 31 years of federal service at age 50: 27 Civil Service and 4 military which I bought back. Do I wait to fill out my retirement paperwork near my minimum retirement age, or do I fill that out at the time I resign? I read that because I have five point preference that my reinstatement rights don’t have a three year time limit? If I resign and then apply for a federal job and get hired at age 55, work one year and then retire at my MRA of 56, would I be eligible for the Social Security Supplement? Can I leave my Thrift Savings Plan money where it is and not transfer it to an IRA? Read the rest of this entry »

Disability vs. early retirement

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Q. I am 51 years old and have suffered a stroke. I realize I could probably apply for FERS disability retirement, but I have a dilemma. I am buying back my military service time, but I have about five years to buy it all back. Which is better to apply for disability retirement or regular early retirement? Read the rest of this entry »

Conditions of new federal position

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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 »

USPS pension

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Q. I worked for the USPS 1987-1996. Is there a pension for me that I’m not aware of that will be available me at retirement age? I cashed out my savings plan that I was contributing to when I was working, but I am referring to a pension that I may have become vested in. This would be great news, but where do I find out? Read the rest of this entry »

Qualifying for disability

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Q. I’m 47 and have been at my job for 28 years. I’ve been off work for nine months for major surgery on my shoulder. The doctor says I’ll never have full range again. Chances are I’m not gonna be able to perform my job. I’ve also suffered from severe depression for years with suicidal tendencies. I take medication for this and see a psychiatrist. Do I qualify for disability retirement? My shoulder, arm and strength will never be the same. Read the rest of this entry »

Retire from law enforcement at 48

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Q. I am currently employed with the Bureau of Prisons,and in three years, I will have 20 years law enforcement time. But I will only be 48 years old. Can I just retire from the BOP in three years with total of 20 years law enforcement at age 48? I’d wait until I am 50 years old and start collecting my retirement. From age 48 – 50 I plan just to work at Wal-mart or a grocery store. I also bought back 6 years of my military. Read the rest of this entry »

Buying back LWOP

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Q. I am a CSRS-offset employee planning to retire at the end of the year and trying to get all my ducks in a row.

While working for the Postal Service as an Army Reservist, I was on leave without pay for two months and six days in 1984, and four months and 19 days in 1994. I thought I would have to pay this time back in order to receive retirement credit. However, in the 2014 CSRS Retirement Planning Guide published by FEDweek, on page 40, I read, “A total of six months of LWOP (including furlough days) in any calendar year is considered to be creditable service. In other words, for calculating your length of service, it’s treated as if you had never been on leave. Further, you don’t have to make a deposit to get credit for that time.”

Does this mean I will be credited my time on LWOP for service and retirement? Read the rest of this entry »

Firefighter retirement

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Q. I am a Fuels Planner (GS09) and have worked in fire in various capacities over the past 16 years.  If I take a job outside of fire, will I forfeit my firefighter retirement entirely?  Is any of the time I have put in counted in my final retirement?  Is there a period of time that I can get back into a firefighter position to finish out my four years in order to get the additional retirement?  If so, how long do I have to do so? Read the rest of this entry »

Dual status federal technician facing MEB

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Q. I am a dual status federal technician in the National Guard facing a Non-Duty Related Medical Board.  I am 51 years of age with 11 years of active duty time that I bought back, so now I have just over 20 years guard time for points and fed tech time for retirement.  I was told that since I’m over 50 with 20 years of creditable service that I would not get a disability retirement on the technician side with or without the medical evaluation board.  Is this true, or am I still eligible for disability retirement? Read the rest of this entry »

Disability and retirement

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Q. I am 50 years old. I did six years active duty which I have not paid back to get credit, and I have 24 years civil service.  I had a heart  attack two years ago. I have a stint and  defibrillator, but I am able to  work.  There is no way my boss would give me a positive disability letter. I have a little different outlook on life now. I’d like to travel, etc.  Luckily, I have a few hundred thousand in my Thrift Savings Plan. What are my retirement options, if any, right now?  I know I have no leave and need to somehow buy back my military time.  Is it even possible to retire?  If I could even get disability, would buying back my military time add to my retirement? Read the rest of this entry »

Same sex spouse benefits

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Q. I retired as of March, 2013. At that time, same-sex marriages were  not recognized by the federal government. I designated my spouse as a person of insurable interest when I retired and submitted my paperwork. Now, I would like to process the annuity selection as spouse with a 50%  benefit. However, the OPM specialist working on my case has said that my status as single at the time of retirement means I must stick with the former choice.

Does it matter?  Isn’t my spouse entitled to benefits regardless?

A. According to OPM, “It can be done. You should write to our Boyers, Pa., office. There is an entire unit devoted to all thing ‘DOMA’ and ’same sex’ that can assist. The adjudication would be done first and then the customer notified regarding the difference owed. The customer can then decide to proceed or not.”

Here’s the address: U.S. OPM, Retirement Services and Management, P.O. Box 45, Boyers, PA 16017-0045.

Calculating deferred annuity payments

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Q. I worked for  the  USPS from 1989 – 1999 as a full time Clerk.   Will I get a retirement pension of benefit in the future?  When it will be and  how much monthly payment I can get? Read the rest of this entry »

Pension and re-employment

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Q. I plan to retire from a covered 6C law enforcement officer position and collect my pension annuity.  Will I be able to be re-employed at a non-covered, non-LEO position and collect a salary and previous pension together?   If so, what are the specific criteria so as to not “double-dip”?

Read the rest of this entry »

Discontinued service retirement eligibility

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Q. I am 57 years old and have 28 years of federal service with the Navy. Due to my declining a transfer of function outside of my commuting area, I will be separated from government service July 31. Am I entitled to a discontinued service retirement?

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Early-out and SRS eligibility

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Q. I will be 52 years old March 9. I am covered under FERS, and I have 31 years of federal service. If my base offers an early-out this year, I plan to take it.

I have a substantial balance in the Thrift Savings Plan and would like to withdraw it in its entirety when I take the early-out so I can invest it in my daughter’s business.

1. Will I be penalized for withdrawing my TSP funds early? If so, how much? I know I will be taxed, and I am OK with that. My husband plans to keep working. He is a GS-12, retired military and we have no bills, so we will be fine.

2. I know I cannot draw Social Security, and I don’t plan to do so until I reach the required age. In the meantime, will I be eligible for the special retirement supplement if I retire now? If not, at what age will I be eligible, if at all?

Read the rest of this entry »