Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

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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CSRS offset retirement money question

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Q. A friend has run into some hard times, and I am trying to help him. He says he has worked here as a civil service employee for some time (I can get that info).

When he was hired, he was put into CSRS but was supposed to be in FERS. When that was discovered, he was put into CSRS offset. He says while he was looking at a statement of his retirement money, he noticed a difference of some $40,000 from one of his other statements. He is a WG-10 step 5.

Whom could we talk with to get answers? HR has no answers.

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Retirement after 22 years in CSRS

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Q. How much will my retirement be when I turn 62?

I rotated back to the states after more than 22 years of federal service. I was effectively terminated from my position due to the five-year rule in Europe. I was under CSRS.

I will not turn 62 for five years, but I would like to know how to get information regarding my CSRS account status.

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Basic pay for retirement

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Q. As a WG/WL shift worker who change days off every four weeks and works Sunday premium days and all holidays, can I count on these extras in my retirement pot? I am almost certain that overtime and bonuses are not included. I have looked in 2012/2011 almanac for the answer. To me, the almanac is geared toward the GS side of the family. I am planning on retiring soon after 41 years. From what I can see, my high-3 is based on straight M-F day shift base pay.

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Basic annuity calculation

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Q. I started working for the federal government March 10, 1975. If I retire Dec. 31, 2015, by my calculations, I will have 40 years, nine months and 21 days.

Right now I have 1,142 hours of sick leave but have no idea how many I will have when I retire. Will any of that be counted toward year and months of service? I’m only a GS 7, step 10, so I need to know what percentage of my retirement pay I would get. My high-3 is more than $50,400 with locality pay. I understood that where you are living and getting locality pay would be figured toward the annuity. If they change our retirement to the high-5, in two years I will still be at the same salary.

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High-3 and pay differentials

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Q. I am a federal worker at a VA hospital. I am a General Schedule employee under CSRS. I switched to night shift and work lots of weekends to boost my last three years of earnings. I read in OPM under CSRS/retirement/High-3 Average Salary, “Your basic pay is the basic salary you earn for your position. It includes increases to your salary for which retirement deductions are withheld, such as shift rates. It does not include payments for overtime, bonuses, etc.”

I still am not sure if night shift will work out to a bigger retirement annuity. I make plenty more in my night differential pay for night tour. What I noticed is retirement deductions in my Pay Statements remained the same as before when I worked the day shift. This is puzzling.

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High-3 determination

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Q. I am a civilian physician working for the VA in FERS, and I want to know what components of my pay are used to calculate my FERS retirement stipend. On my earnings and leave statement, one portion of my pay is classified as “regular pay,” and another portion is classified as “market pay.” Are both of these combined to determine my high-3?

A. Basic pay for retirement purposes is the amount of pay from which retirement deductions are taken. Physicians comparability allowances are considered part of basic pay if certain criteria are met. For more information, go to www.opm.gov/oca/pay/html/pca.asp

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Life insurance after retirement

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Q. I elected the 75 percent reduction after retiring. I understand that, at age 65, the coverage declines 2 percent per month until it reaches 25 percent of its face value. How can I find out what the “face value” is? Is it the salary at retirement? What if I had the 2X salary? Does that have any bearing? I have been told by some retirees that the final amount is $2,000, and by others that it’s anywhere from $8,000 to $10,000.

A. When you retired, the amount of your basic insurance was equal to your basic pay plus $2,000. Since you elected the 75 percent reduction, beginning at age 65, you will no longer have to pay any premiums, and the value of that coverage will decrease by 2 percent per month until it reaches 25 percent of the original amount; for example, if the face value was $100,000, it would decrease to $25,000 and stay there until you die. If you had Option B coverage, you could have elected coverage up to five times your basic pay rounded up to the next $1,000. Unless you opted to continue that coverage after reaching age 65, for which you would have to continue paying the premiums, it would automatically decline at a rate of 2 percent per month until it reached zero after 50 months.

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Service credit deposit for part-time work

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Q: I need clarification of a fine point about calculating the amount of a service credit deposit for a four-month period of temporary service back in 1979 when no retirement deductions were withheld. I know that I would have to pay 1.3 percent of basic pay plus interest. My question relates to the definition of “basic pay.” Would basic pay be the pay I earned during the four months I was a temporary employee ($2,300), or would it be the annual pay rate for a person working at my grade in 1979 ($8,366)?

A: The deposit would be 1.3 percent of the basic pay you received, plus accrued interest.

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