Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Sick leave calculation

Bookmark and Share

Q. If I retire with 27 days of unused sick leave, and I started government service on the sixth day of the month, will that mean that a month of service will be added to my years of service? I understand that anything under one month of sick leave will be dropped, but am unclear about whether the day you started affects the calculation. The chart does not seem to address this.

A. Annuities are calculated using years and full months of service. Any days that don’t add up to a full month are converted to hours and added to any hours of unused sick leave. The total is then converted to retirement months. For annuity computation purposes, approximately 174 hours equals one month. Any hours that don’t add up to a retirement month are dropped.

Tags: ,

Military annuity and CSRS

Bookmark and Share

Q. My husband (age 56) and I (age 53) are reaching the time when we are considering retirement and want to clarify a few things. I am covered under CSRS with 33 years of service. I have worked other jobs but I do not have enough credits to be eligible for Social Security. He is National Guard and will retire with over 30 years of service. He is also a government technician covered under FERS and will be eligible for Social Security. We are both retiring with survivor benefits. I know my husband’s Social Security would offset my CSRS. Will I be able to draw his National Guard military annuity without it affecting my CSRS retirement? What about FERS? Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , ,

Return after LWOP

Bookmark and Share

Q. If a person is in a voluntary LWOP for a period of time and then returns to active service, is the service time necessary to meet retirement qualifications affected? For instance, if a person went on LWOP for three months does that time need to be made up in order to meet a minimum service requirement?

A. No, it doesn’t. You can be on LWOP for up to six months in a calendar year without it affecting your creditable years of service.

Tags: ,

Eligibility to receive benefits

Bookmark and Share

Q. I worked for the post office for 23 years under FERS and resigned at the age of 48 to work in the private sector. I am 53 and would like to know when I would be eligible to receive retirement benefits. Also, I worked for four years with the state government. Would those years count towards retirement?

A. If you didn’t receive a refund of your retirement contributions when you left, you’d be eligible for a deferred annuity at age 62. That annuity would be based solely on your years of FERS service.

Tags: , ,

Early retirement

Bookmark and Share

Q. I’m a FERS postal carrier with 26 years of service. I am about to turn 49. What penalty will I face if I leave the post office at age 54 with 31 years of service? Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: ,

Early out and offset waiver

Bookmark and Share

Q. I retired last year under FERS at age 56 with 28 years and seven months service. I took an early out. I would have had my full 30 years in January 2015. I applied as a rehired annuitant this month with the same agency and everything looked like I was going to be hired, but the manager called and said I didn’t qualify for the annuity offset waiver because I had taken an early out, and they were only allowed to hire those people who qualified for the waiver at this time. Is it true that if you take an early out, you do not qualify for the waiver?

A. Yes.

Tags: ,

FERS after resignation

Bookmark and Share

Q. I resigned from the federal government May 21 with a retirement SCD date of March 22, 1988, so I am vested in FERS. When I elect to apply for a refund of my FERS, do I get everything that I have in my FERS account or just the portion that I put in?

A. You’d get what you contributed to the retirement system, plus accrued interest.

Tags: ,

Re-employed annuitant benefits

Bookmark and Share

Q. I retired in January as a CSRS annuitant after 32 years of service with the Navy and Marine Corps. I am considering returning to the Navy as a re-employed annuitant. In accordance with DoD policy, I understand that I will be able to draw my full salary and my full annuity without a waiver from OPM. I believe Social Security taxes will be withheld, and I cannot make CSRS contributions if I draw both a pension and full salary. Will I be able to contribute to TSP? Will I accrue annual leave and sick leave? If so, how many hours of leave will I accrue? Will my FEHB premiums be withheld from my salary, or continue to be withheld from my annuity? Will I be able to have a FSA health savings plan? Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , ,

Federal vesting

Bookmark and Share

Q. I keep hearing that it takes five years to get vested in the federal government. However, no one seems to know what happens after five years of employment, and I keep hearing different stories.  Do you happen to know what happens at the five-year mark?

A. I can’t imagine what stories you’ve been hearing. When an employee has worked for the federal government for five years full-time (or its part-time equivalent), he has secured an entitlement to an annuity when he meets the age and service requirements to retire. If he leaves before having five years of service, he’s only entitled to a refund of his retirement contributions.

Tags: ,

Refund of contributions

Bookmark and Share

Q. I went to work for the federal government in 1974 under CSRS and worked until 1984, when I resigned and drew my retirement out. I returned to federal service in 2007 under FERS. I will have 20 years service counting military next May 4th. How will drawing my retirement out affect my retirement check?

A. Although you got a refund of your retirement contributions before October 1, 1991, you’ll still get credit for that time in determining your length of service; however, your annuity will be actuarially reduced based on the amount you owe, including accrued interest, and your age on the day you retire.

Tags: , ,

Annuity calculation

Bookmark and Share

Q. I worked 22 years for the federal government, and five of those years were as a CBP officer with 6C coverage. I retired at age 62. My high-3 salary used to calculate my annuity was $88,115, which means that 17 years should be calculated using 1.1 percent and the other five using 1.7 percent. I have been calculating my numbers but they don’t match up with the $1,892 annuity I receive monthly. I wrote a letter to OPM asking for the formula they used, but I have not received an answer. According to my numbers, I should receive about $400 more each month. What can I do to receive a copy of the calculation used for my pension? Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: ,

Retirement benefits

Bookmark and Share

Q. I worked for the federal government from May 1985 to February 2005 as a FERS employee. My remaining annual leave was paid out to me, and I had more than 700 hours of accumulated sick leave. I moved all of my TSP contributions into another fund several years ago. As I plan for retirement, are there any retirement benefits I can receive or can I receive payment for sick leave? I saw in your column: “If you are already off the rolls, you can apply for a refund up to 31 days before your 62nd birthday.” That is fast approaching, and I wonder if there is anything I can recoup. Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , ,

FAA pension

Bookmark and Share

Q. I worked for the FAA from June 1969 and left after I married to raise my family in September 1975. I will be 62 in September. Am I eligible  for any FAA pension?

A. If you left your retirement contributions in the retirement fund when you left, you’d be entitled to an annuity at age 62. To get that benefit, go to http://www.opm.gov/forms/pdf_fill/opm1496a.pdf, download a copy of the form, fill it out, and send it to OPM.

Tags: ,

Waiting for Social Security

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am 60 and retired three years ago under CSRS with the post office. Will my annuity be reduced if I do not claim Social Security benefits at 62? I want to wait until I am 65 to claim Social Security. I worked nine years under Social Security when I was younger.

A. Because you retired under CSRS – not CSRS Offset – your CSRS annuity will never be reduced. If you are eligible for a Social Security benefit, the fact that you retired from a retirement system where you didn’t pay Social Security taxes means that your Social Security benefit will be subject to the windfall elimination provision. The WEP reduces the Social Security benefit of anyone who has fewer than 30 years of substantial earnings under Social Security. Note: If you only have nine years of coverage under Social Security, you won’t be eligible for a Social Security benefit. You have to have 10 years – 40 credits – to receive that benefit.

Tags: , ,

Location and high-3

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am a Defense Department employee in Washington D.C. If I change my locality three months before I retire Jan. 1, when I retire would the lesser locality pay kick into my base and be used as the high-3?

A. How may times do I have to say this? Your high-3 is your highest three consecutive years (78 pay periods) of average basic pay, regardless of when they occur in your career.

Tags: , ,

Social Security reduction

Bookmark and Share

Q. I’ve read about the Social Security reduction if your income is above a certain amount. Does the calculation for that amount include the FERS pension and TSP annuity payments? In other words, does the SSA consider my pension and TSP payout to be “income” they will reduce against? Or is the reduction only against “wages” from actual employment income after you reach SSA retirement age? Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: ,

Military retired pay, FERS, VA disability

Bookmark and Share

Q. I retired from the military with a 40-percent VA disability. I am now a government employee under FERS. If I buy back my military time and then retire under FERS, will I still receive my VA disability payments and, if so, will the VA payments be deducted from my FERS retirement in the same way as they are deducted from my military retirement today?

A. While you would have to waive your military retired pay when you retire from your civilian position, you wouldn’t have to waive your VA disability payments. They would have no affect on your FERS annuity.

Tags: , ,

FERS retirement

Bookmark and Share

Q. My USPS retirement eligibility date is Dec. 30 (56th birthday).  My annuity projection shows about a $10,000 difference if retiring Dec. 30 vs. April 15 next year, which would be exactly 30 years.  Is this  correct?

A. If you retired at your MRA but with fewer than 30 years of service, you’d be retiring under the MRA+10 provision, which would reduce your annuity by 5 percent for every year you were under age 62. To avoid that hit, you’ll need to wait until you have 30 years of service to retire.

Tags: , , ,

Annuity computation

Bookmark and Share

Q. I’m a law enforcement officer with 16 years federal service. I also have three years federal service (non-LEO).  I’m looking at deferred retirement next year with 20 years of federal service and being able to draw my retirement at age 60, I’m currently 52. According to all I have read, the following would be how I calculate the income.
Base pay  80,000 X 17years X 1.7 for law enforcement.
Base pay 80,000 X 3 years X 1 for non-law enforcement federal service.
I have bought back 13 years prior military service but not sure where this counts.
Could you please review this and tell me if I’m figuring the amounts out correctly? Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: ,

Special retirement supplement

Bookmark and Share

Q. If I retire with MRA and 30, can I waive the special retirement supplement and draw the increased annuity at 62?

A. Even if you waived the special retirement supplement — which I don’t think is possible — it would have no affect on your FERS annuity. That annuity is set on the day you retire and doesn’t change until you reach age 62 and are first eligible for a cost-of-living adjustment.

Tags: ,