Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Deferred FERS retirement

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Q. I plan to leave government employment within the next year, at age 50, with about 15 years accrued service. I will defer my pension until I am 62. Everything I read discusses elections for survivor benefits as the pension payments begin. What if I were to die before the annuity begins? What benefit will be provided to my surviving spouse and minor child while I have deferred my pension payments?

A. Because you have at least five years of service, if you left your retirement contributions in the fund when you resigned and later died, your spouse would be entitled to a survivor annuity based on your prior service. And any dependent children would be entitled to children’s annuity benefits.

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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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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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Retirement and rehiring under FERS

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Q. I am a 51-year-old Defense Department employee with 13 years of continuous service under FERS and am considering relocating out-of-state and working in the private sector. Since my MRA is 56, I am not eligible for the optional (voluntary) retirement or MRA+10. My plan is to apply for a deferred annuity and leave my FERS retirement untouched after separation to avoid benefit reductions. However, I plan on returning to federal service.

Having recently attended the FERS midcareer retirement planning workshop, I am aware of the pros and cons of each retirement option.

More specifically, under MRA+10, FEHB and FEGLI are terminated upon separation and can be reinstated when the postponed annuity begins; however, under the deferred retirement option, FEHB and FEGLI are not reinstated.

My questions are: 1. If I return to federal service at age 56, is there a minimum duration I need to work before I can retire under the MRA+10 option? 2. Once I return to federal service, will my contribution to FERS remain at 0.8 percent? (I realize employee contributions to FERS may be increased based on recent proposals in D.C.) 3. Is there any other scenario where, upon returning to federal service, I would not simply be picking up where I left off?

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Retiring at 30 years with FERS

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Q. I am a FERS employee with 22 years of service. I will have 30 years of service in eight more years and will also be 50. Can I retire with 30 years of service and collect (i.e., request an early retirement package)? I’ve read the deferred retirement, but my understanding is I would not be able to receive a pension until my MRA, 57.

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Retirement options before MRA at 20 years in

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Q. I entered federal service as a 1811 in 2001. I will reach 20 years of service in 2021 and would like to retire (at 20 years), but I will only be 46 years old. Can I retire with partial retirement and then, upon reaching age 52, receive full retirement benefits? OR am I required to have 20 years and minimum retirement age? I am confused as to when I can retire as an 1811.

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FERS combined employment time

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Q. I left civil service with just shy of 21 years of combined time (bought back 14 years of military) in November 2011 at age 44 (1967).

I did not withdraw any money from FERS, but I moved my TSP to an annuity. My intent was to just apply for a deferred retirement at age 62 to avoid penalties.

However, if I returned to Civil Service before 62, how many years would I have to work to be eligible for full health benefits under FERS? I also assume that if I returned by age 47 and worked until 56, I would have 30 years and could retire with an immediate annuity at my MRA, correct?

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Pension for working at VA hospital

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Q. I worked for the VA hospital in San Francisco for six years as a registered nurse from 1991 to 1997.

I was vested, but how do I find out if I have a pension and how and when I may be able to collect it if I am eligible?

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CSRS, resignation and FEHB

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Q. I left civil service employment (CSRS) with the Defense Department in 1994 due to base closure with 17-plus years of service at age 42.

I elected to take a deferred annuity when I am 62 (next year). Will I be able to qualify for any FEHB plans when I start drawing my annuity?

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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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FERS annuity before MRA

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Q. I am a 29-year-old FERS employee with 3½ years of service. Given sequestration and budget cuts, I fear my position may be eliminated long before I’m able to retire (MRA of 57). I’m trying to be as financially prepared as possible. I understand that I am entitled to my contributions (plus interest) to FERS regardless of years of service. I’m trying to understand when I am entitled to the government’s contribution to FERS. Is it after five years of service? For example, if I have five years of service but am let go because of budget cuts in year six (and way before my MRA), am I entitled to the government’s contribution to my FERS? Would this be considered a deferred retirement at 62?

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FEHB coverage after retirement before age 59

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Q. Will I still be able to keep my FEHB coverage at the employee rate with 20 years of service under FERS if I leave federal service at age 59? Do I have to wait until age 62 to get my full annuity with 20 years of service under FERS ?

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Retirement at MRA with fewer than 10 years

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Q. I work for the federal Bureau of Prisons under FERS. I have eight years of active military paid for and five years’ civilian service. If I resign my position, will I be eligible to collect a deferred annuity at 57, my MRA, with the 5 percent penalty, because that will be more than 10 years’ government service combined, or will I have to wait till age 62?

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Options after losing job-required license

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Q. I am a FERS employee, 54 years old with almost 30 years of service. My performance has been above average, and I am a good employee. I am a licensed (medical field) therapist, and unfortunately, I just got a third DUI, which calls for mandatory jail time and is a class 6 felony. With a class 6 felony, I will lose my medical license and, I am told, my job. I was told by human resources I should resign and then wait until I am 62 to collect a deferred retirement. However, I still need to pay my bills and need my health benefits. Can they make me resign? Or would it be better to let them fire me? Without my medical license, I would no longer qualify for my job — which is why they are telling me to resign (and they said it looks better on my record than being removed from service). Do I qualify for discontinued service retirement? Do you know what HR would have to provide me with if I do not choose to resign?

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Military service and buyback

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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?

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Deferred annuity under FERS

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Q. I have 14 years of federal service and resigned in July 2011 to enter the private sector. When I resigned, I was 52 and under FERS. When can I apply for my deferred annuity, and do I have the option of taking it earlier than age 62? I also understand that if I elected to take it earlier than 62, I would be penalized 5 percent per year based on what age I elect to take it (starting at 56).

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MRA retirement and pension, health insurance

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Q. I am 50, have 20 years under FERS and am thinking of retiring in six years when I reach my MRA of 56. If I do this, will I get health insurance coverage right away? Also, can I retire at 56 but delay retirement payments until 60 (or is it 62?) so I can avoid the 5 percent-per-year reduction in the payout? My main concern is keeping health insurance in place as soon as I retire at 56 — I can afford to delay the payout.

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Obtaining deferred annuity

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Q. I resigned from the Postal Service in August 2005. My start date was Jan. 15, 1975. My pension was placed in a deferred annuity. I understand this annuity is maintained in Pennsylvania.

Could I obtain the address of this place, and will I be able to draw my pension at 60 or 62?

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Firefighter retirement

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Q. My wife just resigned from the U.S. Forest Service. She is 44 with more than 20 years of service. Did she lose all of her retirement, or is she still eligible to receive a portion at the reduced rate of 5 percent?

She was always in a position covered under firefighter retirement, eligible at 50 to retire. Also, is she still eligible for health benefits?

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