Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Law enforcement retirement

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Q. I am a federal law enforcement officer and currently have 22 years of service. I’ll turn 46 in March of this year. I also have five years of Marine Corps time that I was active duty.

I understand the rule that I can retire at any age with 25 years of creditable service or retire at age 50 with 20 years of service. I will fall into the 25 year rule, since I will be less that 50 when I am eligible. I know I am supposed to get a Social Security bridge when I retire until my regular Social Security age. I am not sure if that age is 57, mandatory retirement for LE or is it 62, 70 or some other number.

I am also confused about the amount of money I can earn, such as through consulting work or private business, when I retire and still maintain my supplement.

I am also confused that if I leave my current law enforcement job with 22 years and start working for another federal agency will I be mandated to retire at 57? When I do retire, will my computation be a law enforcement computation or a regular federal employee computation?
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Age restrictions

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Q. Is there an age restriction for potential employees if they are older than 69?

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Law enforcement and SRS eligibility

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Q. I am eligible for a 30-year retirement in July at age 50. If I do not get another job, I am eligible for a special retirement supplement due to the mandatory early retirement that federal law officers must take.

If I don’t work for, say, six months and then get a job in the private sector and work two years, or if I get a job immediately upon retirement and only work a couple of years, will I still be eligible for the supplement after leaving the private sector?

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Dual status technician and mandatory retirement

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Q. Do dual status technicians have a mandatory retirement age?

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Mandatory retirement

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Q. I am an airline pilot and forced to retire at 65. Why am I penalized because I received Social Security at age 65 when it is forced retirement? I feel this is discrimination, and I am being unjustly penalized because if I was not forced to retire I could wait until full retirement age to get maximum Social Security benefits. How can I get the maximum benefits at age 65?

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Discontinued service retirement

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Q. I am a dual status military technician, who will be 57½ years of age at my mandatory retirement date and have 23 years federal service under FERS. Due to the MRD of July 31, 2016, I will be involuntarily separated from my federal job, and not make 25 creditable years of service. Can I get a FERS retirement without a reduced annuity?

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Unemployment and law enforcement annuity

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Q. If a person is receiving law enforcement pay after mandatory retirement (worked as a counselor for the Bureau of Prisons), will collecting unemployment affect the law enforcement pay?

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Re-employment

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Q. I am a federal firefighter under FERS. When I reach age 57, I will have 20 years of service.

1. Can I resign from the Forest Service without drawing my retirement?

2. Can I then collect my firefighter retirement at age 62 or later?

3. Can I resign from the Forest Service and move to another government position?

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Special category employees and SRS

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Q. I am trying to understand the special retirement supplement. I am under FERS. I plan on retiring from a position of air traffic controller at my mandatory retirement age of 56 with 33 years and four months of service (I was born in 1962). I have been told by a few people that because I am forced to retire at age 56, the special retirement supplement will not be means tested. Is that correct?

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Retirement age and rules

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Q. I work for the Bureau of Prisons and will be forced to retire in 22 months. I started my career just before I turned 37, so I will only get my 20 years of service in and that’s it. In the year or so prior to my hire date, the maximum starting age was raised, and I’m interested in whether there is any chance of it being raised again prior to my retirement.

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LEO retirement recalculation

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 Q. I retired on disability in 2008 in a 6(c) (law enforcement) position. I would have been eligible to retire this year (at age 52) had I not become disabled. When will my retirement be recalculated since I fall under the age 57 mandatory retirement?

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Law enforcement retirement

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 Q. I resigned from a federal Series 1811 law enforcement officer position several years ago. The resignation from federal employment was prior to obtaining 20 years of service and while I was younger than 50. The mandatory retirement age for my position is 57.

At what point can I apply for the deferred annuity payment, and will that payment be reduced by 5 percent for each year that I am younger than 57? Also, how do I apply for the annuity? Whom do I contact — the Office of Personnel Management? My agency? And will I need to supply any type of documentation regarding my employment (SF-50, etc.)?

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Retirement options

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Q. I am a 58-year-old retired Army officer (1977-1997) with 20 years of active service and have collected monthly retirement pay since 1997. I then worked 16 years in the civilian sector, paying into Social security. I have recently been selected as a foreign service officer and expect to start federal service again this year. I will face mandatory retirement at age 65 (2020). What is the best option for me as far as retirement planning goes?  Should I convert my military pension? Do I forfeit my retirement pay while I work for State Department?

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Survivor benefits

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Q. 1. I retired from Department of Justice/Drug Enforcement Administration with nearly 33 years of service. Upon federal law enforcement mandatory retirement at age 57, I elected to have my wife receive 55 percent benefit if I precede her in death. Thus, my annuity is reduced. If my wife precedes me in death, is there an adjustment upwards of my annuity? How do I go about getting this changed? We have been married since 1979.

2. I started collecting Social Security benefits at age 63. Based on 42 quarters and the amount I paid into Social Security, my benefit is only about $150 per month. When I die is my wife eligible to receive partial Social Security benefits based on my Social Security account? She does not have enough quarters to qualify for her own Social Security payment.

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Law enforcement pay

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Q. My husband is a federal police officer on Fort Benning, Ga. The police officers do not receive law enforcement pay, but the firefighters do. Does law enforcement pay affect retirement very much?

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Firefighter retirement

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Q. I am a FERS-covered firefighter with a retirement date of Dec. 30.

I have been on the job since Dec. 30, 1984 (at retirement, I will have 29 years and one day) and I am 49. I have easily met the FERS firefighter retirement requirement of 25 years, any age.

I know the mandatory retirement age is 57 (I don’t need to concern myself with that).

I have been informed to be prepared for three to four months (potentially up to six months) before I would receive a “full/normal” retirement check.

I have recently started a small business which will be my self-employment after the fire department retirement.

I have read that I would be exempt from the “earnings test” as it pertains to the special retirement supplement reduction until I reach the minimum retirement age.

1. Is there a minimum retirement age for firefighters? If so, what is that age?

2. Have I already passed that age?

3. Is there a limit on what I can make in my self-employment and still draw the Social Security supplement?

4. Is three to four months (or more) to receive a “full/normal” retirement check a true/realistic time frame?

5. Is it true that “scheduled/mandatory” overtime is to be included along with the high-3 calculations?

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Re-employment after mandatory retirement age

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Q. I was required to retire from a federal law enforcement position in 2011 after 22 years (GS-13, step 10) due to reaching the maximum age. I may have an opportunity to work with another agency in a permanent position at the GS-12 level. What are the ramifications on my retirement and health benefits? Also, what if this were a re-employed annuitant position?

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6(c) retirement and earnings cap

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Q. I am looking at retiring in about a year. At that time, I will be 53 with 26 years of 6(c) coverage under FERS. I know I can retire right now, but will I be penalized for not waiting until I am 57 (mandatory retirement age)? Also, I understand I can earn as much as I can after retirement, but until what age? I had an officer tell me it was 57 and another said it was 62, the age when regular Social Security benefits are paid. I also believe that the Social Security benefits at 62 would be reduced but by how much?

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CSRS Offset, spouse benefits and Medicare

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Q. I am a retired federal employee on CSRS Offset. Law enforcement with mandatory retirement at age 57.  My wife is older than I am and is drawing on her own Social Security. Until I am 62, all of the money is CSRS.  When I turn 62, I will start to draw Social Security and my CSRS annuity will be reduced. Would my wife then be able to draw the spouse one-half amount of my Social Security (or whichever is the larger amount between us), or is there any language in which she would be restricted from my Social Security due to the fact that it is tied to my CSRS amount? She is having to sign up for Medicare because she is 65.  We pay a lot of money for our federal health insurance. They will take $104. This would protect us with the Blue Cross secondary. Do you recommend signing up for Medicare even though it will decrease her benefits with Blue Cross health insurance?

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Mandatory retirement and unemployment benefits

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Q. Are air traffic controllers who are forced to retire under mandatory retirement rules eligible to collect unemployment in New York state?

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