Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

CSRS retirement and re-employment

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Q. I retired in 2007 with full firefighter retirement and 34 years under CSRS.

I now wish to work for the U.S. Postal Service. Will this job affect my annuity benefits?

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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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Military service and federal firefighter employment

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Q. I am a federal civilian firefighter under FERS. I recently bought back 12 years of active-duty military time to be applied to my retirement.

I understand that as a firefighter, I can retire at 20 years at age 50 or 25 years at any age. Do my 12 years of military time count toward this since I bought them back? I have been a federal civilian firefighter for only two years. With the 12 years added, I’ll be 43 with 25 years’ service computation (military plus civilian). Can I retire at 43 years old with the 25 years?

A. No, the years of active-duty service for which you made a deposit do not count toward the years of covered service needed to retire under the special retirement provision for firefighters. You have to have 20 years of actual covered service to retire at age 50 and 25 to retire at any age.

When you retire, the years you bought back will be computed using the standard formula.

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Military service and leave, retirement

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Q. I am an activated reservist who has been on military leave without pay from my civilian job as a federal firefighter for four years. I have two questions, one regarding my retirement and the second concerning leave earned on MLWOP.

I was hired at age 36 (in 2006) and under normal conditions should be able to retire after 20 years of service at 56 and immediately draw my full retirement (without penalty). Will my four years of activated reserve time be considered part of those 20 years? That is, will I still be able to retire at 20 years of service (at age 56) and immediately draw my pension, or will I have to work an additional four years to make up for that activated reserve time and retire at 60 to immediately draw retirement pay? One caveat: I plan on buying back the four years of activated reserve time, and I am being told that by doing that, I will be able recoup the lost fire service time and retire at 56.

Also, my civilian leave and earnings statement shows that I have accumulated no military leave (to be used for two-week annual training and/or weekend drills), sick leave or vacation time during these four years of activated reserve service. Do I rate to keep earning those benefits while in activated reserve status?

A. What you were told is correct. If you want to get firefighter credit for those four years of active-duty service, you’ll have to make a deposit to the civilian retirement system.

No one on active duty receives credit for annual leave, sick leave or annual active duty for training (ANACDUTRA). They can only be earned while you are on your agency’s payroll.

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Annual leave lump sum

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Q. I will be retiring Jan. 11, 2014, the end of the last pay period of 2013. Will I be able to carry over all my accrued annual leave, about 730 hours, at that time? I am a federal firefighter.

A. I don’t think you are asking if you can carry that leave over. Instead, you want to know if you will be able to get a lump-sum payment for the entire amount if you retire no later than close of business Jan. 11, 2014. The answer is yes.

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