By Reg Jones
May 15th, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. I am a traditional guardsman and am considering federal employment.
Does any of my inactive duty or mobilized time count toward retirement or leave accrual? I’m 43. What is the minimum number of years I would need to work to qualify for a pension, even deferred? Whom can I contact for more information?
May 14th, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. I’ve been offered a position with the Defense Intelligence Agency as a GG-13, step 6. I’m a GS-13, step 6, and have been for nearly a year. I accepted my position last year, going from my previous salary as a GS-13, step 4. Can I ask for a raise in the new position? Or, since I’ve been a step 6 for only around a year, am I ineligible? Also, with DIA, will my leave award of six hours per pay period apply? Should it? My new position with DIA will be outside the contiguous United States, so the allowances and leave days are different. And DIA is offering all applicable OCONUS allowances.
Q. I retired from the Army with more than 22 years of active duty. I submitted my paperwork to FBI HR to get credit for my military time on my first day of employment in October 2010. I inquired numerous times about the status of the documents but never received a satisfactory answer. Then, after more than a year of asking, I found out the HR person submitted the paperwork to an incorrect address (now November 2011). The paperwork was resubmitted by another HR person because I told them all that they submitted it incorrectly. I finally received six hours of annual leave per pay period, which began this year. How can I get credit (six hours a pay period) from the beginning of my employment with the FBI? FBI HR told me it was from the time of the documents submitted getting certified. What are your thoughts on this situation?
Q. After 35 years with the federal government, I retired Feb. 29, 2012.
During my last full pay period, I used 16 hours of sick leave. I discovered after a call from OPM recently that a correction to my final sick leave balance was made by my former employing agency, modestly increasing my sick leave balance. OPM informed me today that after the correction, my sick leave balance was six hours short of the number of hours needed to bring my total creditable working hours up by one more full month.
After hearing this, I realize that had I used six hours LESS sick leave (instead of 16 hours) in my last full pay period in pay status, and used just 10 hours of sick leave plus six hours of annual leave for the time I took off during that last full pay period, I would have had enough creditable work hours to complete another full month toward the calculation of my annuity.
My question to you now is whether or not leave I used in my last full pay period can be recharacterized almost a year since retiring because that would initiate another updated correction to my sick leave balance, which would be forwarded to OPM via the National Finance Center, and subsequently permit a recalculation of my final annuity amount.
I was paid a lump sum for unused annual leave a few weeks after retiring but would gladly reimburse the agency for six of those hours if possible if a correction to my time and attendance report for the last full pay period could be done, allowing for a recharacterization of leave I used during my last full pay period, which would increase my annuity, even if only a little.
Q. I was injured in September 2010 and was out of work until I retired on disability in March 2011. I exhausted my annual and sick leave, since my initial workers’ compensation claim was denied.
After numerous appeals, my workers’ compensation claim was approved in October 2011. I began receiving interim retirement payments in September 2011 but have yet to receive payment from OPM for annual and sick leave I would have accumulated during that period. I have contacted DFAS and OPM, along with filing two congressionals regarding this issue, but no resolution.
Shouldn’t I be paid for the time I would have been on workers’ compensation? Shouldn’t OPM pay the lump sum after receiving notification that my workers’ compensation claim was approved? I have contacted OPM, and it seems to lack adequate professionals to decipher this mess.
Q. I am an active-duty member of the Air Force with five years of service.
I am planning to stay in for five more years to transfer my post-9/11 education benefits to my kids. I am looking to get out of active service at the 10-year mark and would like to remain working for the federal government. How would my years of service count toward retirement if I began to work for the Veterans Administration versus switching service branches (i.e. public health services corps)?
Q. I’ve been in CSRS since Feb. 10, 1975, and I turned 65 in January.
1) Which day, in late leave year 2015, would be the best day to retire?
2) What should be my schedule for submitting retirement documents?
Q. A Postal Service employee had to use all his sick and annual leave because of illness. He used leave without pay. When he retired, he was not entitled to benefits. He received only his contributions. Why did he get back only his funds and not the complete package because of LWOP? Read the rest of this entry »
March 29th, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. I read the March 25 posting “Annual Leave and cashing out.” I’m retiring June 1, I will have 320 hours of annual leave and, in addition, a 40-hour time-off award. My Civilian Personnel Advisory Center representative advised I could not cash out the time-off award, that I could only use it or lose it. I would like to add it to the regular annual and cash it out. Are they correct about not being able to cash out those 40 hours?
March 27th, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. I understand having an Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal will allow me to accumulate more leave per pay period, starting my third year as a DA civilian (from four to six hours).
Will having a second one increase that by two years? I served 21 years in the Marine Corps and have one AFEM on my DD-214 (Lebanon). While on active duty, I should have pushed for a second AFEM for my two tours in the Persian Gulf (1988-1990). If I would get a second year of increased leave accumulation by having a second AFEM, I’ll push to NavPerCom (PERS-312B) for action.
March 25th, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. I will have approximately 503 hours of annual leave when I retire at the end of May (183 hours were carried over). I also have 24 hours of a time off award and 30 hours of home leave unused as a result of a previous overseas assignment. Will my payout for leave include the 24 hours of the time off award added to my 503 hours? Will I receive a payout for the 30 hours of home leave, will I simply lose it, or will it be added as creditable service in my retirement calculations?
March 22nd, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. If I am subject to a reduction in force with just under 25 years of service (say, with 24 years and nine months), can I use sick or annual leave to make up the difference? If not, is there any recourse to take a retirement in lieu of a RIF when you are so close to the 25-year threshold? I am 46 years old.
A. While you may only use sick leave for purposes spelled out in law and regulation, your agency can allow you to use your annual leave to continue past the date on which you’d be separated if it will allow you to qualify for retirement.
March 22nd, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. My service computation date is April 24, 1971, and I plan on leaving at the end of April after 42 years with a load of annual and sick leave. I have always been told to leave at the end of the year because of the annual leave business, but I want to start a consulting firm and devote my time to it. My father-in-law, a former federal employee, says just get out because it is time and I should not miss the beach and I can always bring my laptop.
A. As I’ve said over and over, the best date to retire is the one that fits your financial and emotional needs.
Q. I am a letter carrier, age 52, started in 1985 and have 28 years of creditable service.
If I understand what I’ve gleaned from the posts here and the Postal Service were to offer me a Voluntary Early Retirement Authority this year,
1. Would I begin my annuity immediately?
2. Would I have no reductions in calculations of my annuity? (average high-3 x 1 percent x 28)
3. Would I receive credit for half of my sick leave and all of my annual leave? (How are these applied?)
4. Would I receive the special retirement supplement beginning at age 56 (my minimum retirement age), and receive it until I reach age 62?
5. Would I be able to continue carrying my current health and life insurance at non-USPS rates? (I couldn’t find how long these could be carried. Until death?)
6. Could I begin receiving Social Security as early as age 62?
7. Any withdrawal from my Thrift Savings Plan prior to age 59½ would be penalized 10 percent as per Internal Revenue Service regulations? (Can I continue to contribute to TSP after retirement?)
8. As a FERS annuitant, is there no limit to what I can earn after separation from the Postal Service as it pertains to my annuity payment?
9. At age 56 (my MRA), the special retirement supplement from Social Security would begin and would be subject to yearly income limits. Would supplement payments be reduced by approximately $1 for every $2 I earned above that year’s Social Security income limit?
10. At age 65, I’d be eligible for Medicare parts A and B? (Would this affect my health insurance coverage through Federal Employees Health Benefits?)
11. Would there be cost-of-living increases at any point for my annuity?
12. Is there a date during the year that maximizes the benefits of retirement?
Did I get this right, and are there any other things I should know before considering a VERA if it is offered?
Tags: 401(k), annual leave, annuity, cost-of-living adjustment, creditable service, early withdrawal penalty, enrollment, FEHB, high-3, income, IRA, IRS, LIFE INSURANCE, lump sum, Medicare Part A, Medicare Part B, minimum retirement age, Postal Service, sick leave, SOCIAL SECURITY, special retirement supplement, TSP, VERA
March 20th, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. Can a supervisor force an employee to take leave without pay over taking annual leave? The employee’s day care provider called in sick, and the employee had to stay home with a healthy 4-year-old child. The employee has exhausted sick leave but has an annual leave balance, as well as some comp and credit time. The supervisor denied the request for annual leave and instead put the employee on LWOP for the day. The employee called in and left a voice mail for the supervisor promptly on the day the child care provider was not available. Can the supervisor do this?
A. According to OPM, “An employee may use annual leave for any purpose, including vacations, rest and relaxation, and personal business or emergencies. An employee has a right to take annual leave, subject to the right of the supervisor to schedule the time at which annual leave may be taken.” Therefore, your supervisor was operating within authority in putting you on LWOP. However, there was no requirement that your supervisor do that.
Because there may be more going on in your supervisor-employee relationship than you’ve revealed in your email, you’ll need to discuss with your supervisor the reasons behind the decision.
March 19th, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. I have the maximum hours of annual leave I can carry over: 240. Should I cash these hours in when I retire or use them, which would make my years of service a little longer and thus maybe make my retirement check a little larger?
A. You are assuming your employer would approve your using six weeks of leave before you retire. That’s not a safe assumption. The government’s civilian employees don’t have the right to take terminal leave.
March 12th, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. I am a FERS employee with 30-plus years of federal service looking to retire as soon as possible after turning 62. I will turn 62 on Jan. 28, 2015. What date is best to retire shortly after my 62nd birthday — the end of the pay period that includes Jan. 28 or some other day?
A. There is no best date to retire. There are only a few tips that, once you consider them, can lead you to the date that seems best for you. First, because you are a FERS employee, you’ll want to retire as close to the end of the month as possible. That way, the distance between when you retire and when you are placed on the annuity roll will be minimized. Second, retire at the end of a pay period so you can get credit for any annual and sick leave you earned during that pay period.
Third, if you have excess annual leave that will be lost if you retire after the new leave year begins, retire before that.
February 27th, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. OPM’s Standard Form 71 (Request for Leave or Approved Absence) contains options for Advanced Annual/Sick Leave in addition to Accrued Annual/Sick Leave, Leave Without Pay (LWOP), etc. Due to personal circumstances, I asked my immediate supervisor for both Advanced Leave and LWOP, and he said that he while he could grant LWOP, he would not be able to grant Advanced Leave because his upper management discourages it. Can my agency legally exclude Advanced Leave as one of my leave options?
A. Yes. You’re not entitled to advanced annual leave. In making a decision, your agency may consider such factors as its need for your services, the likelihood of your returning to duty and the benefits to the agency of retaining you.
February 27th, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. I have more than eight years of active-duty service, and I have just obtained my first federal government job. Where can I go to find out how much annual leave I’ll be entitled to?
A. Go to www.opm.gov/StaffingPortal/vetguide.asp#ServiceCredit-Leave Accrual Rate.
February 22nd, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. I am a CSRS employee who plans to retire this year. I will have a large annual leave buyback, so I want to leave before the end of the 2013 leave year. I read one article that advised to retire Dec. 28 (the start of new pay period) and others that relay Jan. 3, 2014.
While I understand that the 3rd is the max to stay and get a retirement check the following month, i.e., February, am I correct that if you retire Dec. 28, you miss out on two full days of pay, i.e., the 30th and 31st? Or is the February check prorated to add those days?
Also, if OPM works applications by date of retirement, it seems that Jan. 1, 2014, is a better retirement effective date than Jan. 3, when everyone else is being told is the best day to retire. Does that make sense?
A. Dec. 28, 2013, is the end of a pay period, not the beginning of one. If you retire on the 28th, you’ll be on the annuity roll in January and entitled to a full month’s annuity. If you retire Jan. 3, you’ll earn one week’s more pay, but you’d only be entitled to 27/30ths of the January annuity payment. It’s up to you to decide which date is best, the 28th, 29th, 1st, 2nd or 3rd. If you retire after Dec. 28 but no later than Jan. 3, you wouldn’t be given credit for any annual or sick leave because you wouldn’t have completed a pay period when you retired.