Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Location and high-3

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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.

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Social Security reduction

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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 »

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Military retired pay, FERS, VA disability

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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.

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FERS retirement

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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.

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Annuity computation

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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 »

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Special retirement supplement

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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.

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Retirement penalty?

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Q. I am FERS employee. I am 60 and this September I will have 29 years of service. Will I be penalized if I retire before I turn 62 and with only 29 years?

A. No, you won’t. You can receive an immediate, unreduced annuity at age 60 with as few as 20 years of service.

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Spousal annuity

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Q. In the FERS retirement system, do I have to be married at the time of my retirement  to obtain a spousal
annuity benefit, or can I get married after I retire and then change my status to spousal annuity? If I am married at the time of retirement and obtain a spousal annuity and later my spouse dies, can I change to the higher nonspousal annuity? Read the rest of this entry »

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Restoration of sick leave

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Q. I retired on FERS disability on Dec. 6, 2010, at age 53 with 21 years of federal service. I had 1,050 hours of sick leave. In May 2014, I returned to federal service in a virtual job that I work from home. OPM has not found me recovered.
1. Because my sick leave was not used in the calculation of my annuity (I retired under 62 years of age), should all my sick leave be restored?
2. The new hiring agency has offset my salary by my annuity and is deducting retirement. Should the agency use the old rate (.8 percent) or the new rate (4.4 percent), since my original hire date was in 1989?
3. What happens when I retire a second time? My agency tells me that I will get two annuity checks if I work less than five years and my retirement will be recalculated if I work more than five years? Read the rest of this entry »

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Reduction to part time

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Q. I will have 18 years in FERS and I am 59. My job  will be reduced to a part-time position in September and I need to know if I should retire before it gets reduced? Should I take the hit and stay with the part-time position until I turn 60? Will the part time reduce my annuity if I stay for the following six months? Read the rest of this entry »

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Sudden retirement

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Q. My mother is 66 and a letter carrier with 32 years of employment with the Postal Service. She loves her job, but as cuts are made and demands are harsher, she was wondering what would happen if she were to go to work one day and decide she wants to retire immediately. She wants to be sure that she could still get her accrued annual in a lump-sum payment. She als wants to know how long would it take for her to start receiving benefits? Read the rest of this entry »

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Re-employment

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Q. I am a FERS retiree since 2003. May I work as a temporary fire lookout for the same agency?

A. There is nothing that would prevent you from being rehired by your former agency if it wanted to do so. However, you need to find out what the effect of taking that job would be. As a rule, the salary of a re-employed annuitant would be reduced by the amount of his annuity. If that turns out to be the case with the temporary lookout position, you’d end up working for nothing.

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Matching contributions

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Q. I’m a CSRS employee with more than 41 years of service and plan to continue my federal employment well beyond 41 years. I understand that CSRS employees contribute 7 percent of their salary into the retirement fund and that the government matches that 7 percent contribution into the fund. I’m told that, after completing 41 years, 11 months of service, I will reach the maximum annuity benefit of 80 percent. At that point, the 7 percent retirement contributions will continue to be taken from my pay and placed into an interest bearing account to be refunded when I retire. When that happens, does the government continue to pay its matching 7 percent contribution into the interest bearing account as well? Read the rest of this entry »

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Best retirement date

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Q. I am in the FERS system and plan to retire Jan. 9, unless Dec. 28 would be a better date? I will have a large lump-sum leave payment and want to maximize any possible salary increases (i.e. 1 percent) that might be applied to the lump sum in 2015 without losing my maximum carry-over hours. I am willing to start my annuity the following month.

A. You’ve touched all the bases in your analysis. Since you are willing to forgo an annuity in the month you retire, you’ve already answered your question: Jan. 9 is the date that best fits your goals.

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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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