Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

FERS retirement

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Q. My USPS retirement eligibility date is Dec. 30 (56th birthday).  My annuity projection shows about a $10,000 difference if retiring Dec. 30 vs. April 15 next year, which would be exactly 30 years.  Is this  correct?

A. If you retired at your MRA but with fewer than 30 years of service, you’d be retiring under the MRA+10 provision, which would reduce your annuity by 5 percent for every year you were under age 62. To avoid that hit, you’ll need to wait until you have 30 years of service to retire.

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DSR and annuity supplement

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Q. I received a Discontinued Service Retirement (DSR) from my agency in 2011 at age 53 with over 20 years of federal service (FERS). I receive an unreduced annuity. I have now reached my MRA of age 56. I believe I now should be able to receive the annuity supplement, but the Office of Personnel Management has not yet begun paying it to me. FERS Handbook Chapter 51 indicates to me that I am indeed eligible for the supplement. I noticed that, in your response to a similar question, you stated that the questioner retired under the MRA+10 provisions and was therefore not eligible for the annuity. What provision in the rules am I missing here?

A. You aren’t missing anything. Since you have reached your MRA, you are entitled to receive the special retirement supplement. If it doesn’t show up in your next annuity payment, call OPM at 1-888-767-6738 and talk to one of their benefits specialists.

Minimum retirement age stipulations

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Q. I got out of the Coast Guard (honorable discharge if that matters) with 14 years of active-duty service. I worked for the Transportation Security Administration for eight months before settling into a position with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, where I bought my military time back. Can I combine my military time with my federal time to meet my minimum retirement age?  Read the rest of this entry »

Voluntary FERS retirement and OWCP

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Q. I’m currently receiving Worker’s Comp. payments for a work related knee injury in July 2012. I’ve had two surgeries and tried numerous physical therapy sessions and the problem has only worsened. I’m in pain all the time. I haven’t returned to work since my injury. I told my doctor that I couldn’t keep up the therapy because it was too painful. My agency required a medical answer from my surgeon as to whether I was able to do anything. He stated that I was permanently incapacitated at this time. I was surprised my agency hadn’t separated me, and I was still on leave without pay. I told my doctor, boss and agency, I didn’t see any other way but to retire. I’m 57 with 17 years under FERS. If I take an immediate retirement, MRA + 10. Can I elect to continue my OWCP payments in leu of my OPM annuity until my injury is resolved through additional surgery i.e. knee replacement? Or, do I lose the compensation?

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FERS MRA+10 and heath coverage

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Q. If my wife chose to retire now, at her minimum retirement age of 56 with 13 years of FERS service, would she be able to postpone her annuity until age 60?  She currently carries FEHB (self), as long as she has had it the last five years, can I pick her up under my FEHB (self+1 or family) once she retires and then when she becomes 60 she can reinstate her own self-plan at that point? Read the rest of this entry »

FERS retirement

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Q. I am FERS with a minimum retirement age of 56. I resigned from the government last year at age 50 with 25 years of government service. I am now 51 years old. Can I get a reduced FERS annuity right now with a five percent reduction for each year that I am under age 62?

If the answer is no, what is the minimum age at which I can begin to receive FERS retirement benefits. And what percent of my high-3 would I receive?
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FERS disability for term employee

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Q. My husband is a helicopter maintenance instructor on a term-appointment due to expire Dec. 31, 2014. He was taken out from his position as a primary instructor and put in the an assistant instructor position due to memory problems that are affecting his ability to teach and do proper fixes on the aircraft. His supervisor recommended in a counseling statement that he seek medical attention to identify any issues. He has been recently diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and excruciating face pain. He will meet the MRA + 10 retirements in August of this year (all term appointment time) but that provides very little in way of an annuity. Is he eligible to apply for FERS retirement disability? Does he have to apply for Social Security first? He is retired military but receives no disability benefits from the Army or VA. 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

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Q. This is a two part question. I’m a FERS employee with a minimum retirement age of 56 1/2.
I would like to retire at my MRA if possible but want to make sure I understand the penalties and rules. First, I will be about 1 1/2 years short of 30 years with the government at age 56 1/2. It’s my understanding that I can still retire at that age but can postpone receiving an annuity to avoid the 5 percent per year penalty if I don’t take benefits until age 60. Is this correct?

Second, if I decide to postpone taking the annuity until age 60, I won’t be eligible to receive health care benefits until that time. I would need to find alternative health care during that gap between age 56 1/2 and 60. But would I be able to re-enroll again at age 60 with no issues?
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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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Early retirement and penalties

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Q. Can I retire with 26 years of service if I’m 56 years old?  I am under FERS.  If so, is there any penalty? Read the rest of this entry »

Special retirement supplement and TSP

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Q. I am looking at retiring in January 2015. I will be 56 years old Oct. 15. I will have 30 years in as of Dec. 24. Waiting until the end of leave year to cash in all available annual leave. I am looking at cashing out my Thrift Savings Plan in a lump sum to pay off all debts. Will that income be considered part of earned income so that the special retirement supplement is reduced?

If so, would it be in my interest to retire at the end of 2014 so that my annual leave hits that year instead of 2015? I will have more than 1,800 hours of sick leave accrued by the end of 2014. Can that be used to offset the age so that I could perhaps retire earlier so that the TSP lump sum is counted in 2014?

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FERS annuity

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Q. I am 57 with 22+ years of service with the Veterans Affairs Medical Center. I’d like to find out what my FERS balance is and what would be the best time to start an annuity. I served from 1989 to 2010 + two years active military bought back.

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Dual status retirement

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Q. I am a military technician who is reaching age 60. At that time, I will only have 16 years civil service. Will I receive a full retirement with the special retirement supplement? Or will it be a reduced retirement?

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SRS eligibility

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Q. FERS discontinued service retirement with 29 years and nine months. After five months of trying to reach the Office of Personnel Management, I was told I’m not entitled to the special retirement supplement due to less than 30 years. I am 56 years old. All paperwork received prior to retirement indicated that I was entitled to it.

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Retirement at 30 years

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Q. I just received my 30-year pin for government service time worked as a FERS employee. I’ve been considering relocating to Florida and can’t find a government job. If I took a job at a town hall in Florida, would I be able to resign from my current government job and have them keep all my retirement and Thrift Savings Plan on ice until I would have been eligible to retire at age 56 without penalty? If so, would I also be eligible at age 56 for the special retirement supplement, even if I were working for the town, or would I have to retire from the town job to be eligible for the supplement?

The only reason I ask is that after seeing your answer to someone else’s similar question (they only had 20 years vested), part of your answer was: “The only way to reduce or avoid the reduction would be to retire and postpone the receipt of your annuity until a later date.”

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Deferred annuity and FEHB

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Q. I am 57 years and two months old. I have 21 years of federal service (FERS), including two years and 11 months of military buyback time. I am considering early retirement. I have maintained Federal Employees Health Benefits since I started 18 or so years ago. The human resources experts here are telling me that if I defer my retirement to age 60 (which I am eligible) that I can never again receive FEHB. I cannot find that statement anywhere. I have seen a local in-service slide presentation that you can defer retirement until age 60 or 62 and pick up health insurance at that time. Can you tell me what is correct in this scenario?

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Re-employment after retirement

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Q. I retired, I believe, under the MRA + 10 program, at the end of my member’s term. I have a total of 13 + years with the House of Representatives. I get a small annuity. I may have an opportunity to return to full-time service with the Department of Homeland Security. How will that affect my retirement? I assume the annuity would go away but am not sure how the health care would be handled. And I have been retired almost five years now. Will this new position accrue along with my previous 13 (since they were with the House and not GS)?

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Retirement eligibility

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Q. I worked with the state as a wildland firefighter for 13 years. I am now considering a secondary position. From my understanding, this would not be a 20-year position for me. What would the retirement time be? 25/30?

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FERS annuity

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Q. I am a dual status military technician. I was hired as a GS-13 in October 2009. I began an active-duty military tour in January 2012 and will return to GS-13 in July. Provided I buy back the time while on leave without pay for military duty on this tour (as well as buy back five years of active-duty time served prior to GS-13 employment), will I be eligible for any GS retirement benefits if I leave the GS-13 job in January 2015? I have contributed 10 percent into my civilian Thrift Savings Plan and received a 5 percent employer match while on GS status.

If so, what would they be based on (five years and three months of civil service + five years of prior active-duty service = 10 years and one month of credit?) When would I be eligible to receive it?

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