Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

FERS retirement

Bookmark and Share

Q. In an article entitled “Calculating CSRS, FERS annuities,” you indicated “that you could also retire early at age 50 with 20 years of service, or, if you have 25 years of service, at any age. I have 27 years and four months of service and I am 50 years old. Am I correct to understand that if I retire now, there would be no age penalty? Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: ,

VERA/VSIP

Bookmark and Share

Q. Will a VERA/VSIP be offered in 2014?

A. If you are asking if they would be offered somewhere in the U.S. and its territories, the answer is yes. If you are asking if they will be offered where you work – and to you – I have no idea.

Tags: ,

Early retirement at 30 years and military buyback

Bookmark and Share

Q. I have 20 years of military service and will have 10 years three months of federal service when I am scheduled to return from overseas. I will be 52½. I want to submit for early retirement with 30 years’ combined service. Should I buy back my military time or receive dual retirement if my request for early retirement is approved?

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , ,

Early retirement and pension

Bookmark and Share

Q. In 2004, I resigned as a GS-0132 with 17 years of federal service. In 2009, I started drawing Social Security disability.

I am 57. I did not withdraw my retirement when I separated. Can I draw my FERS retirement early based on my Social Security disability, or will I have to wait until I am 62 to begin drawing it?

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , ,

Federal retirement and re-employment

Bookmark and Share

Q. 1. I left the Fed in November 2011 with 22 years of creditable service (military time buyback included) and, as I am under my MRA of 56, would not be eligible for my retirement benefits without penalty until age 62, correct? 2. Can I work part time (consultant) on an agency’s payroll without affecting my current status, or would that part time add to my benefit? 3. Also, if I came back to the Fed and did three more years of full-time work before age 62, would that reinstate my health benefits?

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , , , ,

Early-outs and part-time service

Bookmark and Share

Q. I’m a rural mail carrier and am wondering if I would qualify for an early out when/if offered. My duty date is April 1984 (29 years), but I was hired as a sub (rural carrier associate) and didn’t become regular until 1990, so my retirement computation date is January 1990 (23 years). But I recently turned 49, so I would need 25 years of service to retire under an early out because I am under age 50. I would have 25 years in if the counting period included my sub years.

Are my years of service calculated from when I was hired as an RCA in 1984 or when I went full time in 1990? I realize my annuity would be based on my full-time service, but would my years to total service be calculated with my part-time years? I realize rural carriers have not been offered early-outs yet , but there is much talk about it, and I’m afraid if they offer it before I turn 50 , I won’t qualify since much of my time was as a sub carrier.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , ,

Early postal retirement and supplemental income

Bookmark and Share

Q. I took early retirement from the post office Feb. 28, 2009, with 26 years of service at age 48. Will I be eligible for supplemental income at age 56?

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , ,

Early retirement

Bookmark and Share

Q. I work for the Defense Department, where there is talk about another set of early-out offers due to budget/sequestration cuts.  They say the problem is funding these buyouts.  I remember back in the late 1980s they offered “years” instead of money. Is there any chance they might offer three years to either your age or length of service to encourage people hanging in there trying to max out their retirement benefit to leave early even without the $25,000 buyout.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags:

Re-employed annuitant

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am 55 years old and took an early retirement offer with an incentive from the Postal Service in August of last year. I had 26 years of full service. I am considering an opportunity to become re-employed part time with the U.S. Forest Service as a GS4 information receptionist at the local visitor center. This is a seasonal position lasting six months a year. How will this affect my Thrift Savings Plan withdrawals and my special retirement supplement when I turn 56? I retired as an EAS-18 postmaster.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Push back early retirement date?

Bookmark and Share

Q. Early retirement was offered at our agency with a must-separate date of Aug. 3. Can that day be extended to Dec. 31 by our associate commissioner or the Office of Personnel Management if you are working on a specific project important to the agency?

A. No.

Tags: ,

Negotiate an early-out?

Bookmark and Share

Q. I will have 30 years with the U.S. government on May 24 (28 years with the Navy as a civilian employee).

My minimum retirement age of 56 will not be met until Nov. 25. With the budget fiasco going on, might I be able to negotiate an early-out with the following at my 30-year service computation date:

1) A waiver of the MRA and retire in May.

2) Full Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay.

3) Full special retirement supplement.

What do you think of this?

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , ,

Options for leaving federal work at 48

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am 48 and have 30 years of federal service. I work for the Department of Veterans Affairs and have not heard any discussions about buyouts, early outs, etc. What options do I have for early retirement, buyout, resign, etc.? In my opinion, if someone has worked 30 consecutive years, there should be no minimum retirement age.

A. That may be your opinion, but it isn’t the law. If you want to leave before you meet the age and service requirements to retire, you can do that. You only option would be to apply for a deferred retirement at age 62.

Tags: , , ,

Eligibility for benefits

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am 64 with 9.5 years under FERS, but it was split up after 4.7, then a few years later I returned and now have 4.8 years. Could I retire on an immediate retirement and be able to take my Federal Employees Health Benefits along with me? I know if there was an early-out/buyout offer, I could. I was given a service computation date of Feb. 4, 2004.

A. You could retire on an immediate annuity because you are at least age 62 and have at least five years of service. And you could carry your FEHB coverage into retirement if you were enrolled in the program for the five consecutive years before you retire. That break in service doesn’t matter if you were enrolled in the program when you left government and immediately re-enrolled when you returned, and the total of those two enrollment periods equals a minimum of five years.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Survivor annuity and insurance

Bookmark and Share

Q. I’m a 53-year-old CSRS employee with 34 years of service. I may have the option of an early-out in May. I would like to carry my Federal Employees Health Benefits into retirement. I will choose no survivor benefit, but I would like to have my wife keep my insurance after my death. Can I do this?

A. No, you can’t. To be eligible to continue her FEHB coverage, she would have to be covered by the self and family option when you die and be entitled to a survivor benefit. Note: You are required by law to provide a full survivor annuity to your spouse unless she agrees in a notarized writing to a lesser amount or none at all.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Early retirement, penalty, SRS and TSP

Bookmark and Share

Q. I have 27½ years in the Postal Service and I am 52½ years of age. If an early-out comes in the next few months, will I get a penalty for leaving? Do I get my special retirement supplement, or do I have to wait for that? Also, do I get to take my Thrift Savings Plan now, or do I wait for that?

A. Reg: If you were offered an opportunity to retire early, you have the age and service needed to accept it. If you did, you wouldn’t be subject to the age penalty and you’d be entitled to the special retirement supplement when you reach your minimum retirement age, which is 56.

Mike: The early-out has no effect on the Internal Revenue Service early withdrawal penalty. You will be subject to the penalty until you reach age 59½ unless you qualify for one of the exceptions listed on Page 7 of this notice: https://www.tsp.gov/PDF/formspubs/tsp-536.pdf

Tags: , , , , , ,

Retirement options

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am so totally lost in all of this early retirement and buyouts and furloughs. I have 33 years of service with the government and am 55 years old under CSRS. Not sure which to apply for or wait until our office gives us reduction-in-force notices if our office is going to reorganize, restructure. Would I be eligible for early buyout with full benefits come May?

A. You really are lost! However, everything should be clearer when I tell you that you can retire anytime you want to. That’s because you have the age (55) and service (at least 30 years) needed to do that. As a result, you can keep working, retire now, wait until your agency offers you a buyout, or wait until you receive a RIF notice. The world is your oyster. Enjoy it.

Tags: , , , ,

Early-out and bonus repayment

Bookmark and Share

Q. I may be offered an early-out in May. I have been working for the Army Corps of Engineers for the past 34 years. I’m a CSRS employee. If I take the buyout and have a chance to go work for FEMA or the U.S. Forest Service fighting fires out west this summer, can I do this without paying back the bonus?

A. According to the Office of Personnel management, “An employee who receives a [Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay] and later accepts employment for compensation with the Government of the United States within five years of the date of the separation on which the VSIP is based, including work under a personal services contract or other direct contract, must repay the entire amount of the VSIP to the agency that paid it — before the individual’s first day of re-employment.” You’ll have to check with your potential employer to determine if there is any exception to this rule.

Tags: , , , ,

Retirement eligibility

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am 61 years old. I have more than 17 years of civilian service. I would like to retire early by age 62. Is this an option with MRA+10? Voluntary early retirement is not an option yet.

A. At age 62, you could retire on an immediate, unreduced annuity with as few as five years of service.

Tags: , , , ,

Early retirement and age penalty

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am a FERS employee with 25 years of service (21 Postal Service, four military, which I bought back). I am 45 years old. As a FERS employee, will I be penalized 2 percent or 5 percent a year for accepting an early-out offer? If so, what other penalties will I face?

A. If you accept an offer of early retirement, you won’t be subject to the age penalty. And there aren’t any other penalties that would apply.

Tags: , , , ,

Military buyback and early retirement

Bookmark and Share

Q. Recently, the Postal Service offered early retirement for clerks with 25 years of service. I started in 1988 but have eight years of leave without pay for Title 10 deployments with the Army Reserve. I am planning to retire from the Army Reserve soon and go back to the Postal Service. Should I buy back my military time in hopes that I can take an early retirement next year if offered? Will I still be able to retire from both employers?

A. If you make a deposit for your years of active-duty service, they will be added to your years of civilian service and, if you have enough of them and are the right age, qualify to accept an offer of early retirement. If you will be entitled to reserve retired pay, you will be able to receive both it and your civilian annuity.

Tags: , , ,