Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Options after firing

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Q. I was federally employed as a Border Patrol agent in November 1988, then joined the FBI in June 1991 and was fired May 2011 (no break in service since November ’88). I was 48. I can find no answers regarding retirement benefits. I was told I forfeited everything, but I could find nothing in writing. What are my options?

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Misconduct firing and annuity

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Q. A CSRS employee is 62 years old, has 33 years of service, and has been eligible for retirement for four years. If said employee is fired due to misconduct, how is the annuity affected by the discharge?

A. It would have no effect on either his eligibility to retire or in the amount of his annuity.

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Annuity eligibility

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Q. If a federal employee is fired after 25 years of service, is he still eligible for an annuity?

A. In most cases, yes. If you are already eligible for an immediate annuity, you can apply for one at that time. If you aren’t, you can apply for a deferred annuity when you reach the right age. Because you have at least 20 years of service, you’d be eligible for a deferred annuity at age 60.

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Retirement benefits of fired federal employees

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Q. Does a federal employee who was fired get to retain FERS defined benefit plan annuity and government contribution of TSP? Does it matter if the employee is fired for performance or conduct issue?

A: Any employee who is fired, whether for performance or conduct, usually retains any entitlements he or she has earned up to that point in time. For example, if eligible for immediate retirement, the employee may retire. If the employee isn’t currently eligible but has the correct number of years of service, he or she can apply for a deferred annuity at a later date. However, if the conduct for which the employee was fired ended up with debts owed to the government, these could be recouped through liens against any retirement benefits or funds in the TSP. Only if the employee is subsequently convicted of crimes, such  as treason, would all retirement benefits be forfeited.  See 5 U.S. Code8311.

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Retirement benefits after being fired

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Q: If I were fired from my Federal Employees Retirement System-covered position, would it affect my future retirement annuity and benefits, assuming that I have enough years of service to retire?

A: As a rule, when you have the right combination of age and service, you would be entitled to apply for and receive any retirement benefits you have earned. If you retired before being eligible to retire, the age and service requirement would be different than if you were already eligible. Note: if you were convicted of any of the offenses listed in 5 U.S. Code Chapter 83, Subchapter II, you would be permanently barred from receiving an annuity. These offenses are spelled out in Section 8312.

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