By Reg Jones
Q. I have 22 years in federal service under FERS and am 56 years old. I have held Tricare Prime under my retired spouse for over five years and Blue Cross/Blue Shield under my position for four years. If I take early retirement, can I carry my insurance into retirement? Do I meet the conditions to receive the special retirement supplement until I reach age 62? If not, under what conditions could I receive the special retirement supplement that would carry until I reach my Social Security age?
Q. I plan to retire in 2014 with a CSRS pension. Will my spouse’s Social Security benefits be reduced when I begin to receive my CSRS pension?
I do not have sufficient quarters to qualify for Social Security. My wife has never been employed by the federal government and has only held jobs in the private sector where she has paid into Social Security. She meets the eligibility requirements to receive Social Security benefits, and she intends to apply to receive her Social Security benefits this season.
Q. I have worked for the Postal Service for 26 years. I just turned 50. I am under FERS. If I decided to retire at the end of the year, how would I calculate what my annuity will be? Additionally, if there were another early-out offer from the Postal Service, how would I benefit from that rather than retiring outside of the offer?
Q. I’m 55, with 29 years of federal service, of which only 16 is creditable to retirement under FERS because I have never repaid my active-duty time. I am being separated due to medical reasons. I have retired on the reserve side, and so can’t remain on the civil service side. I have applied for priority placement within the local commuting area but have not received an appointment. Am I eligible for, and at what point will I receive severance pay? According to personnel, I can’t receive retirement until 62, unless I repay the active-duty time.
Note: My letter stated that I was being removed through no fault of my own, that I was eligible for immediate unreduced retirement annuity based on my federal service. Under normal circumstances, I would receive a full year of continued employment as a civilian in what was my current slot. But I was denied that year of employment based on the full 29 years which supposedly made me eligible for retirement, but I was told I could not apply for retirement based on the actual creditable time. I want to know if this was correct.
Q. I am a CSRS Offset retiree. I attended more than one pre-retirement seminar and was given examples of my retirement situation, along with reassurances that my retirement would closely follow the examples and that I was very fortunate to be CSRS Offset, and would be very happy.
I was told to check with Social Security to find out about my offset. Neither the Office of Personnel Management nor Social Security could know the exact amounts until I retired.
Following my retirement, everything, except Social Security, was in disorder for six months. OPM explained that they had to check with SS about the calculation of my offset, and that took some time. When I contacted SS, they said there was no offset for me because of my lengthy employment history and more than 30 years of SS payments (and I paid both CSRS and SS amounts since 1983).
The bottom line is, at the pre-retirement seminar, I was shown and walked through one method for calculating the offset and told that there was also another and that the one with the lowest amount would be used to determine my offset. My eventual monthly OPM payments were about $1,000 a month less than those demonstrated in the example based on all that was known about my salary and SS payment history at the pre-retirement seminar. I realize that the pre-retirement amount could be off a little, but $1,000/month is a lot. Each time I tried to sort this out, I was told by SS that there was no offset, and I was told by OPM that they used the offset given to them by SS.
To this date, this matter has never been satisfactorily explained and resolved. SS even sent me a letter stating that I was not subject to any offset, and OPM continues to state that my pension offset was based on the information supplied to them by SS. Can you supply me with someone to walk me through the calculations that were apparently so far from real?
Q. My husband will retire under CSRS. I will retire under FERS.
Concerning survivor benefits: If we elect to have a reduced annuity in each of our retirements for the spouse, will that spouse receive the maximum survivor annuity plus their own federal retirement upon the death of the other spouse? In other words, can a spouse simultaneously receive a survivor annuity and their own federal retirement pension? Are there any penalties or reductions because we both work for the federal government?
Q. My planned retirement date is Jan. 11. Will I forfeit my use-or-lose leave?
Q. I retired a few years ago with a pension and with Federal Employees Health Benefits coverage. Turned 65 a year ago. Have not applied for Social Security, as the benefit will be less than $200 per month.
All sources tell me that when I apply for Social Security, Medicare Part A will be mandatory, even though all our working careers, they said we can just have FEHB for retirement. I do not want Part A and wish to remain with FEHB only. Also with all of the mixups, I am sure they will put me into Part B, as well (even though I do not want or need).
Q. I am a FERS employee with a service computation date of March 30, 1986, and a retirement SCD of Feb. 4, 1982 (I had 4+ years of active duty, for which I made a military deposit.)
My birthday is Feb. 15, 1959, so I will be 55 in February 2014 and 56 in February 2015.
If I were to receive and accept a Voluntary Early Retirement Authority offer in 2014, would I still receive the special retirement supplement until I turn 62? If so, would it start immediately when I retired, or would I need to wait until I turned 56?
December 5th, 2013 | annuity reduction Coverage after retirement discontinued service retirement EMPLOYMENT FEHBP HEALTH INSURANCE MRA + 10 PAY Postal Service Postponed retirement Re-enrollment RETIREMENT Special retirement supplement
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.
Q. In August 2006, I was hired as a marketing/outreach/sponsorship director (nonappropriated funds). My responsibilities grew to include a supervisory role of the graphics department (two employees).
In August 2012, I had the opportunity to apply — and was selected for — public affairs specialist (1035-9). I am now the deputy public affairs officer. I was told that, with an NAF-to-GS transition, my pay would rise only to the next step. My concern is that the human resources office included locality pay as part of the equation in determining my GS pay. I didn’t receive locality pay at NAF and the cost-of-living adjustment was frozen. My annual pay at NAF was $53,000. My basic pay now is $44,333 but adding $9,217 in locality boosts the total to $53,550.
When I questioned the HR person, she said that was the way the rules were set up. Yet, the job announcement listed the salary for position at $50,000 to $65,000. This still doesn’t make sense to me. Can you help me understand the effect of locality pay on determining salary for NAF who transition to GS?
Q. I worked for the government (Department of Defense Dependents Schools) as a teacher overseas in Germany from January 1969 to June 1984. I am receiving a government pension (my retirement) of $629 per month.
I was told at the Social Security office that my Social Security benefits would be reduced by two-thirds because I worked for the government. Until 1984, DoDDS employees were not allowed to pay into Social Security. I have paid into Social Security by working at other teaching positions and other types of work.
Is what the Social Security administrator said correct? Am I penalized because I worked for the government, and is my pension considered part of my Social Security, and after 15 years, am I to get just $800 a month (including Social Security) to live on for the rest of my life?
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?
Q. I am looking at retiring in September 2014 at age 57 years and five months. I will have 34 years in FERS and a little less than a year of sick leave to convert. I have $359,000 in my Thrift Savings Plan account. I am single, never married. What are my best options? I am located in an isolated area and am unable to attend any retirement seminars, especially now with the budget issues.
Q. I have 12 years of full-time employment and am MRA +10. Instead of retiring outright, I was thinking of going to half-time for a year or two. I understand my share of health insurance premiums will go up dramatically while I am employed part-time, but what will happen when I finally retire? Will my share go back to the full-time amount, or will I continue to pay the extra half? This is a major part of my decision to stay on because my pension would barely cover the increased amount.
December 4th, 2013 | Creditable service: FERS discontinued service retirement DOWNSIZING FERS annuity computation Minimum retirement age Reductions in force RETIREMENT Special retirement supplement VERA
Q. I am a FERS employee. If my command is offering a Voluntary Early Retirement Authority and I retire at the any age and 25 years of service (I am 47 years old and have more than 25 years of service):
1. Will I get my special retirement supplement along with my retirement pay? Or will I not be entitled to the supplement?
2. If my command has a reduction in force instead, will I be able to get my severance pay plus voluntary retirement with my retirement plus the supplement until my MRA?
Q. I was born in 1958 and would like to retire from the federal government with 10 years of service at age 57. Would I be eligible for the special retirement supplement?
Q. I am a CSRS Offset employee with 30 years of service at age 55. If a Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay is offered and I’m accepted, can I use that money to buy back time — first year of federal service and two years of term employment in middle of my career (FICA-covered only) — to use toward my pension? I understand the years only paid to FICA apply to my total number of years but not toward my pension benefit.
Q. I am a Postal Service employee with an issue. I was on active duty from January 1985 until April 1994, when I separated from the military and entered the Reserve.
I started work at the Postal Service in 1995, and bought back my military time.
In January 2003, I was mobilized on active duty until 2013. During this period (approximately July 2011), I fell into sanctuary (18-year lock in) and was retained on active duty to complete 20 years of active federal service, Feb. 28, 2013.
I am now back at the Postal Service trying to make up contributions for my last 10 years away from the Post Office and am being told by the Human Resource Service Center that I cannot receive an active-duty military retirement check and use that time toward the USPS retirement.
My retirement orders put me in the Retired Reserves, but I do get an active-duty check, and my last DD-214 states under “narrative reason for separation”: Sufficient service for retirement.
Q. I am a former CSRS employee with 15½ years of service. I left the service in 1993. I need to apply for deferred retirement. Is there any benefit in waiting? I am applying for a federal position that does not close for several months and am wondering what happens once I start collecting my deferred retirement? Should I wait to apply for my deferred retirement? What happens if I take a federal job in a year?
I also took a refund of part of my CSRS deductions in 1983 (money was from 1977 to 1983) when I moved to another state. Shortly after I moved, I got a new CSRS position and worked for 10 more years until 1993 and did not take a refund when I left at that time. How does that affect my retirement?