Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

FERS rate following transfer

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Q. I was hired at the Defense Department in October 2012, and thus I contributed .8 percent of my pay to FERS. I transferred to VA in April 2014 with no break in service and now have 3.1 percent of my pay deducted, and I am told that it is increasing to 4.4 percent of my pay, as this rate applies to new hires after January 2014. Is it correct that I should be treated as a new hire, despite in all other areas being treated as a transfer (leave carried forward, no ability to change benefits until open season)? I checked and my SF-50 reflects the correct service computation date from 2012. My HR representative has informed me that I will be in the 4.4 percent group when I questioned why I was already paying the 3.1 percent. Read the rest of this entry »

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CSRS offset to FERS

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Q. I’m an air traffic controller hired in 1985 under CSRS offset as a flight service controller and later converted to FERS with no explanation. I’m coming up on age 56, does the CSRS exemption for flight service specialists appointed prior to Jan. 1, 1987 apply? If not, which law explains the differences between CSRS and CSRS offset?

A. You were actually hired as CSRS Interim employee (CSRS and Social Security). Because you had fewer than five years of CSRS coverage on Jan. 1, 1987, you were automatically converted to FERS. Therefore, the exemption you referred to doesn’t apply.

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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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CSRS or FERS

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Q. I had 10 years of employment covered under CSRS, then resigned. I came back in 2007 under FERS. I also have two years, five months and 21 days military service. Would it be to my benefit to change to CSRS offset. I plan on retiring May 2015 when I will be 62 with 20 years of service.

A. You can’t change your coverage now. You are a FERS employee who will have a CSRS component in his annuity. If your active-duty service was performed before you first became a federal employee (or while you were covered by CSRS), you could make a deposit and get credit for that time in your CSRS component. If it was between the time you left and were covered by FERS (or while you were covered by FERS), it would apply to your FERS component.

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Retirement options

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Q. I am a GS-1811 Special Agent with four years until my FERS retirement in 2018 at age 62 (I was “grandfathered in” at age 42). And I have also bought back 12 years of military service time. I failed a PIP due to my ADD/ADHD & depression, and I was recently served with a Notice of Proposed Removal as an 1811. I am in a 3-agent office, four hours away from our Resident Office, and there are no non-1811 jobs available to me in my office’s area. Because I am considered disabled per the ADA guidelines, and the NOPR says I cannot perform well enough as an 1811, are there some sort of retirement options available to me for which I qualify (e.g. medical, disability, Discontinued Service, etc.)? Read the rest of this entry »

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Part time and health care

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Q. I have been permanent part time as a TSO with the TSA for approximately 10 years and have been enrolled in FERS and Blue Cross/Blue Shield for all of my employment. Will I be allowed to carry my health insurance into retirement when I retire at 62 or do you have to be full time? Read the rest of this entry »

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FERS or CSRS

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Q. I’m under FERS, and my service computation date is Nov. 26, 1983. A co-worker in my organization has a SCD of Nov. 7, 1983, and is under CSRS. What is the SCD cutoff date for FERS vs. CSRS?

A. As a rule, employees who were first hired before Dec. 31, 1983, are covered by CSRS. To review that requirement and other details which might affect your situation, go to www.opm.gov/retirement-services/publications-forms/csrsfers-handbook/c010.pdf. If you meet the qualifications to be covered by CSRS, you’ll need to go to your personnel office and ask them to help you process your claim under the Federal Erroneous Retirement Coverage Corrections Act.

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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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Military buyback

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Q. Is it possible to buy back military service credit even if I am not currently employed by the government? I may at some future date return to federal service, but not for several more years. My concern is that I would like to purchase my military service credit before I retire from the Army Reserve (one to two more years). My understanding is that once I retire from military service, I am no longer eligible to purchase military service credit. If it is possible to do this, who would I contact to begin the process? I was a FERS-covered employee from 1992 to 2012. I did not withdraw my retirement contributions when I left federal service. I have 10 years of active military service. I have not previously purchased any military service credit. 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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FERS retirement

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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 »

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Basic Life insurance

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Q. I have recently read an article that stated the following: The survivor of an individual who meets the definition of a FERS annuitant is not eligible for the FERS Basic Employee Death Benefit (BEDB), the BEDB is a lump sum payment made to the spouse of an individual who dies while still in federal service. This individual has not filed an application for retirement and has not separated from federal service.
So, does this mean as a retired annuitant, a spouse who was provided a spousal benefit cannot get any benefit for carrying the Basic Life into retirement? Read the rest of this entry »

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CSRS Offset

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Q. I started with the federal government on Aug. 18, 1986. I was recently reviewing my personnel records and noticed that from that day until Dec. 31, 1986, my retirement plan was listed on my SF-50 as CSRS Offset. Then on Jan. 1, 1987, it was changed to FERS. Were individuals who entered federal employment on Aug. 18, 1986, automatically changed to FERS the following January, or were employees given the choice to choose between CSRS Offset and FERS? Read the rest of this entry »

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Supplement calculation

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Q. As a retired federal law enforcement officer who earned a law enforcement retirement under FERS, I am approaching my 56th birthday. Since the SRS supplement will be discontinued or reduced at age 56 (MRA), I am curious as to how this amount is calculated? I am aware it will be reduced for anything I earn over $15,480 annually, not counting my pension. Will OPM send me an inquiry, or is this something I am supposed to submit? Do they base it on my earnings when I turn 56, or the previous year’s earnings? I would like to keep the full amount, so I am considering when to leave my current employment. Read the rest of this entry »

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FERS and VERA

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Q. If I accept a VERA with just over 30 years of service under FERS at age 54 and with just under 18 months to go before I reach 56 or my MRA, would I still be immediately eligible at early separation for the special retirement supplement under a VERA, or do I have to wait until I turn 56?

A. The special retirement supplement will begin when you reach your MRA.

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Severance pay

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Q. I am 52 with 17 years in the federal government (FERS). I am not eligible to retire yet and am not eligible for a discontinued service retirement. My agency field office is closing, and I have decided to decline their directed assignment outside of my state. I am eligible for severance pay due to the fact that it is not a reasonable job offer (it is outside of my commuting area, and I am not subject to a mobility agreement). I have submitted my information and found I am eligible to receive one year’s worth of severance payments. I know that if I receive severance payments but soon after get hired into another federal job, the severance payments will stop. Read the rest of this entry »

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Deferred retirement

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Q. I am 50 and I have been in government for 27 years. I am going to apply for a deferred retirement at age 60 or 62.  I thought I read somewhere that the “high-3″ was consecutive. If I was a GS-13 and due to BRAC had to come back into the government at a much lower grade, could I still use my high-3 including grades 11-13 or am I required to use the last grade I held?

A. Yes. Your high-3 is the highest three consecutive years of average basic pay (78 pay periods), regardless of when they occur in your career.

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