Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Deferred/postponed annuity

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Q. Do I have any options for early retirement that will allow me to keep Federal Employees Health Benefits if I retire at age 52-55 with 20-23 years of service with a minimum retirement age of 57? I know I can take postponed, but then I lose FEHB. So I was wondering if there was any other way.

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Postponing, deferring and unused sick leave

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Q. I intend to retire from government civilian service at age 60 under MRA + 10. At the time of my retirement, I will have 15 years of service. Accordingly, as I understand it, I will be eligible to defer or postpone my retirement annuity until age 62, thereby bypassing the age reduction penalty. Would I lose any of my accumulated sick hours (currently 1,200 hours) under either the deferred or postponed retirement programs?

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MRA+10 and postponing annuity

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Q. I plan on separating from the government Jan. 10, 2015, at 56 years, six months and nine days old and postpone getting my annuity until June or July 2018, when I will be 60 years old. My service computation date is May 6, 1990.

To accomplish this, my understanding was to submit an SF-52 with Section E filled out to resign and then, approximately 90 days before I wanted my annuity to start, submit a RI92-19 to apply.

But I keep reading where I can retire under MRA+10 on a regular retirement form, and there is a way to postpone receiving my annuity that way. What is the procedure?

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FEHB into retirement

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Q. Reading some of the questions that are being answered, there is some confusion. Some say if you retire at your minimum retirement age, you will not be able to continue health care coverage, but you must wait to retire at 60 to be able to remain in program. Other answers have been you can have your health care coverage renewed when you reach 60 when you apply for your deferred annuity. Can you clear this up? If I retire at my MRA which is 56, will my health care coverage continue?

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Changing from self and family to self only

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Q. My wife and I were both career federal employees. She left federal service a few years ago with FERS MRA+10. She postponed retirement until now to avoid the penalty.

Just before leaving service, I changed my Federal Employees Health Benefits coverage from self only to self and family to cover her. She then terminated her coverage (had been covered more than five years continuously prior to that).

When she starts retirement, she can enroll in FEHB self-only coverage. Can I also change my coverage to self-only at that time? Is her eligibility to continue FEHB coverage a qualifying life event for me to change from self and family to self only?

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FERS early retirement

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Q. I have been told by the Office of Personnel Management that if I postpone my retirement until age 60, I would be penalized for every year I am under 62 and will not be eligible for the special retirement supplement.

I am 59½ with more than 28 years in the Postal Service. Our facility is consolidating, and our jobs are at stake. I am a clerk and do not want a carrier position because of my health. I plan on retiring in February to reach my 60th birthday. If I don’t accept a carrier position, can I:

1. Take an involuntary discontinued retirement; or

2. Retire and postpone my annuity until 60

I want to receive the special retirement supplement and no penalty on annuity.

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FEHB in retirement

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Q. When I reach age 56, I will have 20 years of federal employment. I realize I can retire at MRA + 10 with a reduced benefit of 30 percent. Can I defer or postpone my retirement to age 60, qualify under the 60/20 and not take a reduced benefit? Also, how does this affect my health benefits? Do I purchase my own health insurance and then re-enroll when I apply for my annuity?

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FEHB and FEGLI

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Q. I turn 60 on Jan. 1, 2015.  I am a FERS employee who will have 20 years creditable service in January of 2014.  If I retire Dec. 13, 2014 (the end of a pay period) do I understand correctly that my Federal Employees Health Benefits and Federal Employees Group Life Insurance coverage will be extended for 31 days at no cost to me?

I plan on postponing my annuity receipt until Jan. 1 (when I turn 60) to avoid the under-62 penalty.  Also, do I understand correctly that since my postponed annuity date will be Jan. 1 that my first annuity payment will not be until February?

I am also an Air Force Reserve enlisted ART employee, so I have to leave at 60, but because of the changes to Reserve retired pay eligibility based on active duty orders, I qualify for Reserve Retirement pay earlier than 60. But as you know, if I retired when I was eligible, I would not be able to enroll in Tricare for retirees (except the plan for “gray area,” which involves paying the entire monthly premium).

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Transfer of function, annuity postponement, SRS and FEHB

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Q. Our Postal Service plant is going through a transfer of function. Jobs are being offered out of the area. If I refuse a position, I want to postpone my annuity until age 60 with more than 28 years of service. I have been told by human resources that if I postpone, I will not receive the special retirement supplement. Also, I will not continue Federal Employees Health Benefits during my postponement because of cost out of pocket but restart FEHB once my annuity begins at 60. Is this all possible?

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Postponed annuity and FEHB re-enrollment

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Q. My husband is planning to retire from the government under FERS at age 62 with 27 years. We have a health insurance family plan under his name. I started to work for the government almost four years ago. I am a part-time employee (about 48-50 hours per pay period). I will not be able to collect any pension for many years, and I do not plan to stay on the job after my husband retires, so no annuity for me. If my husband decides to retire earlier with a postponed retirement, it is my understanding that he will have to pay a much higher rate for the health benefits (COBRA for 18 months) plus 2 percent administrative fees until the start of his annuity. If he postpones retirement and I start a health insurance family plan for all of us, will he then be able to restart his health plan at retirement (I know I will not be able to carry it with me because I will not get an annuity)?

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Postponed retirement and FEHB

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Q. I am a FERS employee and may have to postpone my retirement without suffering the age penalty. I am over 59 with 28 years of service. If I postpone my retirement until age 60 and do not carry the optional insurance that I will have to pay for plus 2 percent, would I still be eligible to restart my Blue Cross/Blue Shield coverage once my retirement begins. It will be almost six months that I will not have coverage. I have been enrolled in an insurance plan throughout my entire career. Also, if I am given separation papers involuntarily because of a transfer of function, could I resign and take an immediate retirement before 60 without penalty and also be eligible for the special retirement supplement?

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FEHB family coverage during postponed annuity

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Q. I am a FERS employee with 14 years at Department of Agriculture, and will turn 60 this month. I plan to retire in January under MRA+10 but want to postpone receiving my annuity until I reach age 62 to minimize the 5 percent-per-year reduction.

My wife (nonfederal) and I have been enrolled in Federal Employees Health Benefits family coverage for the past 14 years. Can I continue my existing FEHB family coverage during a postponed annuity (at my own expense, plus 2 percent, for 18 months from my retirement date) at the conclusion of which I’d begin my annuity, and be eligible to receive full government contribution toward family FEHB coverage?

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Postponed annuity

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Q. Once I separate (retire) from my agency, do I have to begin receiving my pension right away, or can I delay it and begin receiving it for a couple of years? I want to leave when I’m 62 years and four months old and have 23 years of service.

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Health benefits and postponed retirement

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Q. I may separate from federal service (Veterans Affairs Department) at age 62 with approximately 16 years of total service. I am CSRS offset. Am I able to postpone taking the annuity until I retire at age 65 or 66? Is there any advantage to postponing taking the annuity? I have been continuously covered by Federal Employees Health Benefits for six years or so. From what I read, if I am employed outside of the federal system, I can discontinue FEHB coverage until I fully retire, then “rejoin” FEHB at the time I retire. Is this correct?

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Deferred vs. postponed retirement

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Q. What is the difference between a deferred retirement and a postponed retirement for someone who meets the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority requirements for her agency?

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Postponed annuity and continuing health insurance

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Q. I am a 58-year-old FERS employee with 20 years seniority, planning to retire, and want to defer my annuity to age 60. Am I eligible to continue my current health benefits on COBRA for now, then get them reinstated when I start collecting my annuity at age 60?

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MRA+10

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Q. I am a FERS employee. I am planning to do an immediate retirement (MRA +10). Date of birth: March 1952. Service computation date: February 1996. This gives me 17 years in FERS and well within the minimum retirement age. I would like to postpone the receipt of my annuity until my next birthday (62), eliminating the penalty. This should allow me to use all my sick leave for annuity computation. Is this possible?

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Phased retirement and VERA or postponed annuity

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Q. When will federal employees be allowed to take phased retirement? And are you eligible for this if you take a Voluntary Early Retirement Authority or postponed retirement (MRA+20 years)?

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MRA+10

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Q. I retired from the Air National Guard with 20 years (16 FERS and four active-duty buyback). Under MRA+10, can I apply for my annuity at my minimum retirement age (56 years, four months)? I read that I will be penalized 5 percent for every year I am under 62. Doing the math, it appears that it would take roughly 18 years to make up the difference in retirement pay if I waited until age 62. In other words, am I better off taking a 25 percent penalty at 57 rather than drawing at 60 or 62?

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FEHB coverage after retirement before age 59

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Q. Will I still be able to keep my FEHB coverage at the employee rate with 20 years of service under FERS if I leave federal service at age 59? Do I have to wait until age 62 to get my full annuity with 20 years of service under FERS ?

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