Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Pre-MRA retirement annuity, and where sick leave goes

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Q. I am 51 and was born in 1961. I work in FERS. My MRA, I believe, is 56. I have 28 years in federal service. Will I get an annuity if I retire now before my MRA? If I do get an annuity, how big a reduction will it be from the pension I would get if I retired at 56?

Also, I have seven months of sick leave. Do I lose it all when I retire, or does it get applied as service credit?

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Military and law enforcement service and retirement

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Q. I am a veteran with six years of active-duty service, and I am employed as a federal law enforcement official with seven years of service under FERS. I am considering leaving federal service. Am I eligible for any retirement benefits after age 62, or do I simply lose the 13 years that I have in military and civilian service?

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CSRS and Social Security

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Q. I work for the federal government and have 31 years in CSRS. I was born in 1959. I am eligible to retire in August 2014 and will be 55. I also worked in the private sector before becoming a federal employee. I am four credits short of receiving Social Security. If I earn four more credits after I retire, how much will I receive and how much will my CSRS retirement be decreased?

If I could receive Social Security, would it be better to keep working under CSRS/ Social Security? Which would be greater? Should I just work longer under Social Security or stay extra years under CSRS?

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CSRS, Social Security and military service

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Q. I just retired from the federal government Dec. 28 under CSRS at age 66. My service comp date is March 3, 1975. Now I am told I have only 31 years in federal service because they are not counting my six years on active duty with the Army. They say it’s because I’m eligible for a Social Security benefit, and I’m receiving one. I thought they went by the service computation date. If I am required to buy back my military time, of six years, to get a larger monthly annuity, can I still do that? How much will I have to pay to buy back the six years of military? Does it have to be paid all at once? The Social Security Administration representative said my Social Security benefit will be reduced because I’m a CSRS retiree.

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Service computation date and FERS retirement

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Q. I am contemplating retirement with a separation date of Jan. 6, 2014. Under FERS, my creditable service for retirement (on Jan. 6, 2014) will be 29 years and two months (service computation date of Oct. 24 1984). My creditable service for RIF and leave (on Jan. 6, 2014) will be 31 years and seven months (service computation date of June 20, 1982). The estimate I have indicates the MRA+10 provision, reducing my annuity by approximately 35 percent (5 percent each year under 62; I will be 57 in January). From an eligibility standpoint, which would be the correct creditable service date to use? I understand the annuity formula (1 percent x high 3, etc); if I have at least 30 years of service and have reached MRA, why such a huge penalty when the annuity is already based on the years I was able to contribute to the annuity portion of FERS?

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Rehired annuitant looking to add to retirement

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Q. I retired as a CSRS employee Nov. 30, 2006, and am a rehired annuitant. I have been working in my current position with the Air Force for the last 22 months, receiving both my annuity and the full salary of my new position. I want to find another way to add to my retirement before this overseas job ends.

What additional retirement program options do I have? I was told by Air Force personnel management that I do not qualify for supplementing/contributing to my CSRS annuity. TSP also is closed for me to invest in since I started to withdraw from my account.

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Earliest retirement age

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Q. I am a dual-status federal technician age 43, with 14 years of federal service and 21 years of military service. I am trying to determine how early I could retire and receive an immediate annuity. There seems to be wording that age 50, with 20 years of federal service (which I would achieve in seven years), surpasses a threshold where this is possible, but additional wording is confusing (see below).

Does this mean I can voluntarily depart the military (and, thus the dual-status federal technician job) at that time, or do I need to be involuntarily separated to receive the immediate annuity? The law states: “(2) after becoming 50 years of age and completing 20 years of service as such a technician, is entitled to an annuity, if the separation is by reason of either separating from the Selected Reserve or ceasing to hold the military grade specified by the Secretary concerned for the position involved, and is not by removal for cause on charges of misconduct or delinquency.”

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Disability annuity and continued federal employment

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Q. Since I started receiving a FERS disability annuity, I have worked while still receiving the annuity. What percent of my federal service salary can I earn without losing my annuity? (It was 60 percent or so.)

I was a GS-855-12 step 2. What is the current salary for that position (GS schedules are easy to find, but not GS-855 salary schedules showing their higher rates of pay)?

Do I still lose my disability annuity if I return to work for the federal government as a teacher at an overseas military base? (It used to be that returning to work for the federal government would automatically end the disability annuity.)

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Reduction in force and retirement

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Q. I will be 58 next year, when we are supposed to be RIF with the Postal Service if we have not found another EAS position. At that time I will have 24½ years in and be 58. I understand I will be eligible for DSR.

How is the amount calculated? Is it the same as the FERS amount, is it permanent and can I still receive the FERS supplement? Can I receive DSR and FERS, or just the DSR or FERS? I don’t want to retire but am trying to see how I will be financially if I am part of an RIF. Also, does this affect my Social Security?

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FERS retirement and leave

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Q. I am a FERS employee and was hired in January 1984. I will reach MRA (56) with 31½ years of service in early July 2015.

What is the best day for me to retire in 2015 to get credit for the most annual and sick leave?

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Social Security for CSRS Offset employee with private-sector work history

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Q. I am 55. I have put in more than 14 years of federal service as a civilian (11 years from 1980-1991 and three-plus years beginning in 2011 through now). I also put in 23-plus years in private industry paying from Social Security 40 credits. I anticipate working in federal service for an additional seven to 10 years. In general, how will my retirement be calculated to include both the CSRS Offset and Social Security?

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FERS retirement options

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Q. I have some vague idea that some benefits are linked to completing 10 years of federal service, but I can’t find details or facts.

I’m under FERS, have a service computation date of 2004, have worked full time since 2007 and worked TERM appointment 2004-2007.

I thought I would last until 2014. However my elder parent and young grandchild could both use my service and time, and thus I am considering leaving before my 2014 date and working from home in a nonfederal job.

How would that affect my benefits — just resigning before 10 years? I’m only 55 and won’t be submitting for retirement benefits until 63 or later.

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DoD and VA benefits

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Q. I am a Navy Reserve 05 with 33 years of service, 12 of them active duty.

I was recalled to active duty and have completed eight years of active duty in direct OIF/OEF Presidential Recall. I turn 58 in November and have been accepted to a job at the VA. I could have retired in September and collected money, but I stayed on active duty.

Now that I am going to come off orders and work for the VA, how do I choose what to do with the joining of DoD and VA retirement? Can I retire from the Navy and collect retirement pay while working at the VA and collect VA benefits?

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Benefits for retiring at 65 with 29 years

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Q. I’m a FERS employee thinking of retiring at the end of 2014.

I’ll be 65, and with time served, military and sick leave (barring any lengthy illness between now and then), I’ll have 29 years, plus a couple of months. I know I’ll be losing some benefits from Social Security, leaving a year early, but what would the loss be from leaving before the 30-year mark?

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Unscheduled hours, official hour of duty and annuity

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Q. I am a FERS employee who will retire in 2016 under the 20 years by age 60 rule. I went part time in 2010, with my official tour being 20 hours per week (40 per pay period); however, I usually work 24-30 hours per week due to clinic needs. I get paid for these unscheduled hours. I know my annuity will be prorated to account for my part-time work during my career; however, will the part-time portion be calculated using my official tour of 40 hours per pay period, or will the part-time calculations use the actual number of hours I worked?

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CSRS Offset and Social Security

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Q. I am under CSRS Offset. I am eligible for Social Security under my own record, but also under my husband’s.

Can offset in CSRS be taken from my record if I take my husband’s record, or will it take the offset off my husband’s record? Social Security said I would get more under my husband’s record than my own. So I am wondering if I never apply for my record if my offset will increase each year I don’t take it.

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FERS, military service and civilian status

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Q. 1. I am a FERS employee with seven years service with the VA (and three years bought back from active duty 1973-1976) totaling 10 years of federal government time. I started at the VA in Tampa on Feb. 21, 2006, at age 54. I was born on Feb. 6, 1952. Is my calculated retirement date Feb. 21, 2003? I had worked six months with the VA until the Army activated me from Aug. 29, 2006, to Aug. 28, 2007. I returned to the VA for six to seven months until March 30, 2008, when I was activated again with the Army for three years with no break in military service until I officially retired from Army Reserve on March 22, 2011. All of my active-duty time has been bought back while on military leave without pay; all SF-50s were coded correctly. I am now 61 and was looking to leave the federal government for a civilian job.

HR is telling me I do not qualify for MRA+10 because I have not worked a “total of five years with the VA in a ‘civilian’ status.” Is this correct? I thought that buying back the time counted toward retirement.

I am being told by HR that I need to wait until February 2015 to officially retire and begin drawing on my retirement. If I chose to leave the VA before then, I am being told that I would not be eligible for retirement pay but rather be paid a “lump sum payout or annuity”? Is this correct? What does the annuity look like? Is it only what I have contributed over the past seven years? Does it include what the federal government provides in the matching 5 percent?

2. How can I see what is in my retirement bucket? The VA does not have the EBIS system to keep eyes on retirement monies, etc.

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CSRS retirement and Social Security

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Q. I have been a federal employee with the Department of Veterans Affairs covered by CSRS since October 1977 and have four years of military service (I paid the military deposit in full). I am 75 and have started receiving Social Security. I will be retiring in about one year and eight months, having reached 41 years and 10 months years of service, including military service, hoping to have earned or reached the 80 percent retirement annuity. I am at the top level of my GS-12 grade step 10. What will my civil service and Social Security benefits be? Or, how I can estimate the figure?

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Secret Service work and retirement

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Q. I have 13 years of service as a Secret Service special agent under FERS.

I am considering leaving the service at 20 years, but I will be only 43. If I understand correctly, I must maintain a government job until age 50 to receive a retirement package that would give me a 41 percent retirement benefit (34 percent from my Secret Service time and 7 percent from the other government work from age 43-50) plus the full FERS special retirement supplement, as well as being able to maintain my FEHB. Is that true? Am I giving anything up by doing that? Do I have to have uninterrupted service with the government, or is it OK to take a couple of years off? Does it have to be full-time employment, or can it be part time? Basically, I have done an excellent job of saving, and I’m trying to figure out a way to get away from the wear and tear of this job after only 20 years and maintain the bulk of my retirement benefits.

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Foreign work and government pension

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Q. I am a U.S. citizen by birth and retired under CSRS in about 2006 after 27 years at the EPA. Since then, I have consulted part time via contracts with Environment Canada and Health Canada. Now Health Canada has asked if I would like to work there temporarily (not to exceed 90 days a year) as a staff member about one day per week. (It’s not clear whether Health Canada’s policies would allow it.) Does this affect my government pension?

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