Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Credit for military service in FERS retirement

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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 »

Earned years toward retirement

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Q. I am a federal employee with the VAMC. My appointment is Excepted without time limit. I am currently a GS-8 supervisor with one year in my current position. I have been with the VA since August 2010. I also bought back my military time (4 years). My Service Comp Date is 07/2006. My husband was put on orders to Ft. Leavenworth for school from 06/2014-07/2015. My question is: If I have a break in service where I do not work for the federal government will I:
1) lose my earned years toward retirement?
2) will I lose my earned GS level for reemployment with the government?
3) would I lose my years that I bought back from the military?

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Reserve time and federal civilian buyback

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Q. I have severed in the Air Force Reserves for 10 years. I have about three to four years of active duty time during that time in the reserves due to deployments and working extra days on military orders. If I buy back that time for my federal civilian position, how will that affect my retirement with the reserves should I go back in for my last 10 years in the reserves? Read the rest of this entry »

Service separation bonus and annuity computation

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Q. I have 14 years and 8 months of active Army service. In 1993, when Regan was initiating draw down of troops and instituted SSB (Service Separation Bonus),
I received a Service Separation Bonus in 1993′s drawdown of $40,000 before taxes and separated from the Army in Sept. 1993. In June 1995, I entered the federal service as a full time Civilian Government Employee working for the Army Material Command where I work today. At the end of this month, I will have 18 years and 9 months as a federal government worker. I am currently 56 years old.

Would it be more beneficial to add my active military service time to my federal government service time in order to receive a higher pension upon retirement? And if so, will I have to “pay back” the SSB I received in 1993? In general, my annuity would be based on the following formula: .01 x (your high-3) x (your years and full months of service). If I use this formula, then I would require a deposit, correct? Read the rest of this entry »

VA disability and FERS medical

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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 »

Military buy back

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Q. I am trying to get information regarding the military service buy back program. I served in the military for four years and got medically retired. I receive compensation from the Veteran’s Affairs, so I thought that it would not be a good idea to buy back. But people say that I should get expert advice on this particular matter.  Could you tell me if the buy back program is beneficial for me? Read the rest of this entry »

Buying back FERS active duty time

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Q. I served five years and 11 months in U.S. Navy between 1992-1997 and was recently hired to work for the VA. Would my active duty time be applied towards my retirement, or do I need to “buy back” that time?
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Creditable service and early retirements

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Q. When is creditable service NOT creditable? As an Air National Guard Federal Technician, my local human resources office insists that three-plus years of Title 10 Active Duty military service (which I’ve paid my deposit for) cannot be used to satisfy the 20-year minimum service criteria for early/involuntary (loss of military membership) retirements in IAW 5 USC 8414 (c)(2). Is this correct?
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Military deposit refund for CSRS

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Q. I am CSRS and presently employed be the Air Force. I paid my military deposit in full, and as I will never have Social Security quarters, I would like to have it refunded back to me. Although OPM cannot quote the regulation, they said that if I was still making payments on it I could request a refund but because it is paid in full I cannot. Can you quote the regulation that states that? Can you quote the regulation that says that I can have this refunded! 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 »

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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Seniority and military service deposits

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Q. Does seniority play a part in military buy back? Do you move up in seniority with your buy back time? Read the rest of this entry »

FERS retirement with military credit

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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?
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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 »

Active duty, Reserve and civilian buyback

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Question:  I served five years active duty and am currently in the drilling reserves.  I am also a civilian government employee.  If I buy back my five years of active duty time, does that reset my reserve time?  In other words, currently I need only 15 more (good) years to retire from the reserves.  If I buy back my five years of active, will I need to complete 20 (good) years in the reserves?

A: Making a deposit to get credit for your active duty service wouldn’t reset your reserve time, nor would it have any effect on your entitlement to reserve retired pay.

 

Prior service adds to service comp time

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Q. I am currently a DoD employee with prior military service as well as time with USPS. My service computation date was adjusted to reflect my prior military time. Am I allowed credit for the time I was with USPS. If so, how is that time computed/reflected?  Read the rest of this entry »

VA disability and FERS benefits

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Q. I am considering filing for VA disability for a military injury that occurred in a parachute jump during airborne training.  This was 22 years ago.  I did have a severely broken ankle requiring surgery.  Now I have arthritis in that ankle as well as severe knee degenerative joint disease that may require knee replacement in the same leg.

I have some concerns:

1.  I never retired from active duty.  I will receive a reserve retirement at age 60, however.  I never applied for military disability retirement (was doing OK at that time).

2.  I joined the federal service and “bought back” my military years for FERS credit (19 years).  Did over 5 yrs in Veterans Affairs, so I became eligible for a deferred FERS retirement that I will elect to take at 60.  Evidently, I can collect both reserve retirement and FERS without any reduction in either (I verified this).

3.  If I apply for VA disability benefits (I am 50), and they are granted, will any reduction occur to either military or FERS retirement benefits?  Would I lose either?

4.  How does having an injury during “hazardous duty” affect me personally in terms of benefits? Read the rest of this entry »

Military buy back/reserve question

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Q. I have 15 years of active duty military service and no reserve service.  I have been selected for a job with the State Department with a GS paygrade.  I plan on buying back my active duty military time.

My question is this:  If I decide at a later date to go into the reserves, can I still use my 15 years of active duty toward a reserve retirement or is it no longer usable once I buy it back for my federal civilian retirement?

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Military buyback and career status

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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?

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Military retirement deferment

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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?

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