By Reg Jones
Q. I recently turned 62, and my FERS civil service disability was converted to a retirement annuity. Before being disabled I had worked civil service for approximately nine years of continuous service. I also had nine years of service in the military. Can I draw any Social Security retirement since my annuity will be substantially less than what I believe my Social Security would be?
Q. My wife is thinking of early retirement at age 50 with 22 years in. Is there any Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA) for 2014?
Q. If my Special Retirement Supplement is eliminated due to income earned the previous year, am I still taxed on the amount I would have received?
Q. I have a unique situation that I would appreciate some clarification on regarding the FERS Special Retirement Provision. I am a current federal law enforcement officer with 12 years of creditable code M coverage. Prior to becoming a federal employee, I was an air traffic controller in the military. I now have an opportunity to change my position to become a GS-2152 air traffic controller with the Defense Department. My question, since both law enforcement officer and air traffic controller positions have special retirement provisions, is how would my retirement calculation be handled? Would I still be able to retire under special provisions at 20 years/50 yrs old?
Q. I plan to retire within the next year but have some questions. I am a CSRS-Offset with 34 years of employment. I understand that after I start receiving the payments Social Security will not be taken out. Does that also include Medicare and state withholding taxes? So, if my annuity estimate states that I will receive $2,700 per month, is the only deduction I will have off of that my insurance if I choose to continue it? Also, if you deduct the withholding of Medicare and state taxes, will I be able to get them back when I file for my income taxes? Do I have to claim this retirement money as income on my taxes?
February 24th, 2014 | RETIREMENT
Q. I retired as a National Guardsman after 22 years of service, 17 of which were Title 10 Active Guard Reserve. I was recently hired as an federal employee. I’m confused about selling my time back, so here are my questions:
1. I’m only 45 and not collecting my guard retirement. As I understand it, I can sell back my federal active-duty time (17 years) and still be able to collect my guard retirement when I turn 60. Is that correct?
2. What is the cost to sell back those 17 years?
Q. I am a 48-year-old Army Reserve retiree (Gray Area). I was mobilized in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and was medically flagged during mobilization as being asthmatic and ultimately unfit for duty. After a Medical Evaluation Board, the Physical Evaluation Board offered for me to accept an early retirement in lieu of a disability separation.
Unfortunately, I was retired as an E-4 with 16 years, 2 months, 7 days of combined service and a total of 2,524 points . The breakdown is 4 years active duty Marine Corps 1983-1987, and Army Reserve 1992-2003 with one additional year of active duty from those eleven years for a total of 5 years active duty. I cannot collect my USAR pension until age 60. Since my reserve retired pension will only be about $425 a month in today’s dollars ($585 in 2025), would it possible (or beneficial) to pursue federal employment and buy back my Reserve retirement rather than let it stay as is for 12 more years and collect the small reserve retirement pension at age 60 and then Social Security at age 65-70? I have more than 20 years private-sector civilian experience but with no retirement accounts to fall back on.
Q. I retired in 2009 at the age of 59. I was a Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) employee. I am drawing my pension and have never paid into the Social Security system. My future spouse will draw his full social security at age 66. If I understand correctly, if he should die before I do, I will never be eligible to draw his Social Security. Could this be possible since my annuity is twice as much as his Social Security?
February 24th, 2014 | Uncategorized
In order for military service to be considered creditable for civilian retirement purposes, you must have done one of the following:
Served on active duty in the armed forces, which are defined as the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps or Coast Guard and, after June 30, 1960, in the Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service or, after June 30, 1961, in the Commissioned Corps of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration;
Served as a cadet in the Army, Air Force or Coast Guard academies or as a midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy;
Been called to active duty or active duty for training while in the Army Reserve Officers Training Corps or the Naval or Marine Corps Reserve Officers Training Corps.
Service in the U.S. Merchant Marine is not considered to be military service. Nor, as a rule, is service in a reserve component of the armed forces or the National Guard, unless you were called to active duty in the service of the United States.
How Social Security affects creditability
Since January 1, 1957, everyone serving in the military has been covered by Social Security. And, since January 1, 1984, every civilian newly hired by the federal government (or returning to work after a break in service) has been covered by Social Security. In 1982 the law was changed to prevent employees from getting credit twice for the same period of employment – once from Social Security and the other from a civilian annuity. The result was two sets of rules. One for those first hired before October 1, 1982 and another for those hired on or after that date.
Hired before October 1, 1982
If you were first hired before October 1, 1982, you will get credit for your military service time in determining your eligibility to retire. You’ll also have the option of making a deposit to the civilian retirement system to get credit for that post-1956 service in the computation of your annuity.
Whether you actually need to make a deposit depends on your eligibility for a Social Security benefit. OPM only checks once: at age 62 if you are retired before that age or when you retire, if it’s on or after the date on which you are 62.
If you are eligible for a Social Security benefit when OPM checks and you haven’t made a deposit for your active duty service, those years will be deducted from your total years of creditable service and your annuity recomputed without them. If you haven’t made a deposit and aren’t eligible for a Social Security benefit when OPM checks, your annuity won’t be affected.
Hired on or after October 1, 1982
If you were hired on or after October 1, 1982, you will only get credit for your military service if you make a deposit to the civilian retirement system for that time. If you don’t, it won’t be used either to determine your eligibility to retire or in your annuity computation. So, when you do retire, your annuity will be based solely on your years of civilian employment.
Special rules for retired military
If you are receiving military retired pay for you active duty service, it doesn’t make any difference when you were hired as a civilian. You’ll have to make a deposit to the civilian retirement system to get credit for that service and, with one exception, waive your military retired pay before you retire.
Here’s the exception. You can keep your military retired pay if you were awarded it because of a service-connected disability either incurred in combat with an enemy of the United States or caused by an instrumentality of war and incurred in the line of duty during a period of war.
On the other hand, if you are receiving – or will be receiving – reserve retired pay, you won’t have to waive that pay. However, you’ll need to review the rules spelled out above to determine if you need to make a deposit to get credit for any periods of active duty service that occurred within your reserve career.
When called to active duty
If you are called to active duty while employed by the federal government and are placed on Leave Without Pay–Uniformed Service (LWOP-US), that period of time will be governed by the same rules that apply to all employees who want to get credit for periods of active duty military service. You’ll have to make a deposit for the entire period of your absence on LWOP-US to get credit for that time after you return to your civilian position.
However, there are situations where a deposit won’t be required. For example, if you take annual leave or if you are approved for regular leave without pay. If you are approved for regular LWOP, you can take up to six months leave within a calendar year and get credit for that time without having to make a deposit. However, any period of absence beyond that can’t be credited for any purpose nor can a deposit be made to get credit for it.
In the next column I’ll talk about how much you’ll have to pay to get credit for your military service and how you can go about doing it.
Q. I have been receiving a monthly annuity payment after the death of my husband 3½ years ago. Would it be possible to receive the balance in a lump sum now, or do I have to continue getting the monthly payments?
Q. I have been a FERS employee since 1985 and this year will have 28 years of Social Security substantial earnings.
I was born in the U.K., a U.K. citizen, and worked there in the 1970s before marrying and emigrating to the U.S. with my U.S. Navy husband. I am now eligible to receive a U.K. state pension, 10 years of which are based on employment.
I am now told that my U.K. pension is subject to the windfall elimination provision, as those 10 years are not covered by Social Security. This seems grossly unfair as, at the time I earned my U.K. salary, I was not a U.S. citizen, resident or employee, and had no intentions of becoming one.
Q. I have been retired from CSRS since 2004 with 34 years of service. It is my understanding that I have $25,000 in life insurance to be paid to my beneficiary when I die. That will most likely be my wife. How should she go about claiming the life insurance?
Q. Must you use all of your annual and sick leave before going on leave without pay?
Q. How can a nonappropriated fund employee move into a GS position in the same directorate without opening the position to the general population?
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?
Q. At 19, I was recruited and placed into a civilian Defense Department position as a cooperative education student. I would be placed on leave without pay during periods when I was attending college and not working. This continued for five years. My start date was June 1980 and I finished my degree in August 1985. My service computation date is April 1982. Is there an option to buy those LWOP periods to bring my SCD to 1980?
Q. Is there an age restriction for potential employees if they are older than 69?
Q. My wife and I are both federal employees nearing retirement. What are the pros and cons of deciding not to have a spousal annuity for either one of us since we will have our own benefits, including our own Thrift Savings Plans and Social Security?
Q. I have 208 hours of use-or-lose leave. Will I get paid for it when I retire?
Q. I had heard that there might be an option to retire “gracefully,” e.g, work halftime for two years while also getting your retirement. I am under CSRS. Is this so?