By Reg Jones
December 17th, 2012 | Uncategorized
Q. I am a civil service employee under CSRS. What is the maximum number of leave hours I can cash in at the time of retirement: 448? More? If the answer is more than 448, can you explain how you came to a different number of hours? Note: I am not a bargaining unit employee. My maximum yearly carryover is 240.
A. For most employees, the maximum number of annual leave hours for which they can be paid a lump sum at retirement is the amount carried over from the previous year (a maximum of 240 hours) plus the amount of leave earned in the next year (usually 208), plus any additional hours for which payment is required by law, such as restored annual leave that exceeds the annual limit and that can be carried from one year to another or unused compensatory time off.
November 30th, 2012 | Uncategorized
Q. I am contemplating retiring Dec. 31, Jan. 2 or Jan. 3. I am not sure how the CSRS annuity check is computed. Based on a full month? Or if I retire during the month, is it prorated, or is that month lost.
1. When does my CSRS pension start if I retire on Dec. 31? Do I receive an entire month’s (January 2013) pension check? When would I receive it?
2. If I retired on Jan. 2 or 3, when would I receive my annuity check? Is it prorated for January?
3. Also, since the leave year ends Jan. 12, would it be advantageous to retire on that date? When would I receive my annuity, and would it be prorated?
A. 1. If you retired Dec. 31, you would be on the annuity roll in January with a benefit payable Feb. 1. When you actually began receiving your annuity would depend on two things: when your agency got your paperwork to the Office of Personnel Management and when OPM processed it.
2. If you retired Jan. 2 or 3, you’d be on the annuity roll in January, but your annuity for that month would be reduced by 1/30 for every day you weren’t retired.
3. If you retired after Jan. 3, you wouldn’t be on the annuity roll until February, with the first annuity payment due March 1.
October 11th, 2012 | Uncategorized
Q. July 2009 was my official government start date. However, I was a contractor to the government in the same agency prior to this time, from April 2005 to July 2009. I was credited service time for leave by the executive officer for the time I worked as a contractor. Therefore, on my SF-50, line 31 lists my service date (leave) time as April 2005. Do I get credit toward retirement for the April 2005 date? How can I confirm what service date applies for pension? Can I access this? Or is the SF-50 the only source which confirms I will receive the extra years as part of my retirement pension determination?
A. While your agency was able to give you credit for leave accrual purposes, that doesn’t alter the fact that your service computation date for retirement purposes is the date you entered on duty as a federal employee. You’ll have to go to your personnel office and ask them to show you where your service computation date for retirement is noted.
October 1st, 2012 | Uncategorized
Q. If a federal employee is placed on 30 days administrative leave with pay pending possible disciplinary action, does the time one is on administrative leave still count toward retirement?
September 7th, 2012 | Uncategorized
Q. I’m a federal employee with 22 years’ service, GS-15, turning 60 this month, in FERS, and deciding whether to retire Dec. 29, 2012, or Jan. 12, 2013. I understand I will be paid a lump sum for my leave over and above 240 hours in either case (I expect to have an additional 200 or so), but I’m concerned about two Social Security issues: Since my lump-sum payment will exceed the earnings limit for the retirement supplemental, will that payment after Jan. 1 reduce my supplemental SS payment in 2013? Will Social Security taxes be taken out of my lump-sum payment?
A. Your special retirement supplement won’t be reduced because you’ll be covered by the so-called “first year rule.” For more about that, go to www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2/rule.htm. As for your lump-sum payment, Social Security taxes will be deducted from it.
Q. I am a new employee and have both service computation date (April 29, 2011) and date of hire (May 7, 2012). When calculating step increases (going from 7 to 8, for example) or vacation accrual (going from four to six hours per pay period) or similar, which date do I use for the calculations? For example, it’s three years between a step 7 and 8, so for me, will that happen April 29, 2014, or May 7, 2015? I don’t know the standard time period before I go from four to six hours’ sick accrual, but is that based off service computation date or date of hire?
Are there any pamphlets or books on these common questions or 1-800 numbers for federal employees? I’m a tenant at my work assignment, and getting answers to such simple questions isn’t simple. I would like to be able to research on my own when new questions arise. Thanks.
A. Your leave accrual rate and within-grade increases will be based on your Service Computation Date (SCD). The underlying law is at 5 U.S. Code Chapter 61 and the regulations at 5 CFR Part 630.
July 6th, 2012 | Uncategorized
Q. I am an Air Reserve technician with 32 years civil service. I will turn 55 on July 10. I resigned from my civil service position effective the pay period ending July 14. I have, however, vacated the position effective June 22 and used various leave statuses to get me through July 14. Per FERS rules, I was planning to submit my request for federal civil service retirement 60 days prior to my 56th birthday in July 2013. In addition, I submitted my military retirement for Dec. 31, 2012 (I was required to submit a date six months in advance per Air Force Reserve Command directive on their military retirement website). Obviously, there is a disconnect in the two retirement dates by six months. I was just told by my office that to fill my vacated position, they need to move my military retirement up by six months, in effect waiving their six-month in advance notification rule. (Personnel apparently can’t process an action to remove me from the ART position based on my current active reserve status, even though I won’t be participating in any military duty from now until December).
I was informed I would be eligible for a discontinued service retirement if personnel involuntarily separated me from the military so they can fill the position now instead of in December. If this is true, would personnel initiate an SF 50 to process the involuntary separation? Would the Office of Personnel Management have to make the final determination (per information I’ve read in OPMs handbooks)? Is DSR even a consideration under this scenario/these circumstances?
A. Your agency would have to provide you with an official notice of involuntary separation, which they would attach to your application for retirement and send to OPM. That would qualify you for a DSR.
June 27th, 2012 | Uncategorized
Q. As part of an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission settlement, my agency wants me to accept a federal disability retirement and is willing to put me on administrative leave while waiting for approval. I am a federal law enforcement officer with 21 years service, and my high-3 is about $128,000. I recently had a spinal fusion. I will get around $70,000 in disability retirement the first year, and if I get denied by Social Security, I can ask to continue at 60 percent rather than 40 percent, which would give me $70,000 per year. This would work out better than my regular retirement in four years. Are they right about being able to continue to get paid at 60 percent? I cannot find any regulations that allow this.
A. Like you, I can find no basis for your agency’s contention that you could continue at the 60 percent level after the first year. The law is clear. For the first 12 months, you’d receive 60 percent of your high-3, minus 100 percent of any Social Security disability benefit. From then until age 62, it would be reduced to 40 percent of your high-3, minus 60 percent of any Social Security disability benefit. If you weren’t eligible for a Social Security disability benefit, you’d receive 60 percent and then 40 percent of your high-3.
May 7th, 2012 | Uncategorized
Q. I started in a 6(c) covered position on April 30, 1986. I will be mandatorily retired July 29, 2016. That will give me 30 years and three months of service. I hope to also have one year and three months sick leave to give me 31.5 years total. Will the sick leave time count toward my years on my supplement (31.5 / 40 = 78.75 percent of Social Security estimate)?
A. No. Your special retirement supplement will be based solely on your years and full months of actual FERS service.
April 30th, 2012 | Uncategorized
Q. Our agency is offering VERA, closing at the end of the month. My husband has 20 years of service and will be 50 years old two weeks later. Is there way for the agency to allow him to use leave or leave without pay to reach eligibility? Or would they have to extend the closing date for all employees? He’s also subject to involuntary relocation due to transfer of function if he isn’t able to do the VERA?
A. VERAs have a fixed beginning date and, while they can be terminated earlier than the announced closing date, they can’t be extended beyond it.
April 19th, 2012 | Uncategorized
Q. I was hired as a federal employee in 1971 (my service computation date is March 12, 1971.) In 1976, I enlisted in the Air Force Reserve and attended basic training and technical school from April 1977 to September 1977. To attend this training, I used a combination of leave and leave without pay. During the next 30 years, I was either a member of the Reserve or National Guard, and I performed annual military training and/or periods of active duty using annual or military leave and LWOP (never in excess of six months.) I was never in the active-duty military and I never had a break in federal civilian service or was on military furlough. I did not make a deposit. I retired April 30, 2007, at age 60. When I turned 62, my annuity was recalculated and reduced by 4½ months due to military duty. I receive Social Security because I switched from CSRS to FERS. I also receive a military pension.
I worked for several federal departments and have all my SF-50s. There is no mention of my military service until 1998 when the Department of Labor put “Creditable Military Service: 00 years 04 months” on a transfer action.
Because I was approved for annual leave and for LWOP, don’t I get credit for these 4½ months without having to make a deposit? Am I misinterpreting something?
A. When you were called to active duty for training, the time when you weren’t on annual leave was charged to LWOP-US. There are two differences between that and regular LWOP. First, anyone on LWOP-US can receive credit for time beyond six months in a calendar year. Second, a deposit must be made to avoid what is commonly called “catch-62.” If you are retired before age 62 and are eligible for a Social Security benefit at age 62, the period of active-duty military service for which you didn’t make a deposit will be eliminated and your annuity recomputed. If you retire at age 62 or later, the reduction will be applied on the day you retire.
March 6th, 2012 | Uncategorized
Q. I’m new to the federal system and would like to asses my options.
1. I have spent 14 years and about 10 months on active duty in the Armhy plus some reserve time. I understand reserve time is not computed on military buyback. What is the maximum years that I can sell back?
2. I was hired by ICE at the age of 38. How does that factor in for retirement purposes — mandatory retirement age for an ICE covered agent?
3. If I sell my military time, do my leave and sick hours change to match those of service dates of one with close to 15 years of federal service?
4. How do I access such information? I have asked around and no one knows. The only thing I found is a FERS pamphlet PDF dated 1986 about the percentages for retirement.
A. 1. There is no limit on the number of years of active duty service for which you can make a deposit.
2. As a rule, if you are hired into a covered position, you’d be allowed to continue working until you completed 20 years of service, and then be mandatorily retired.
3. As a nonretired member of the armed forces, you’ll get full credit for your active-duty service in determining your annual leave accrual rate. The sick leave accrual rate for all employees is the same — four hours per biweekly pay period.
4. Information about all aspects of civilian employment and its interaction with active-duty service will be found at www.opm.gov. You’ll just have to dig around to find what you need.
February 28th, 2012 | LEAVE
Q: I am a civilian GS employee and an active reservist. I am getting deployed to Afghanistan for about 100 days. I was wondering if I am allowed to use any/all/combination of my military leave, civilian regular leave or sick leave while I am deployed. This would allow me to get my GS salary as well as my Army salary at the same time. My GS salary is more than my active-duty salary will be.
A: You may take military leave (the 15 days granted each year for training), annual leave or LWOP-US. You may not use sick leave. For more information about your civilian benefits while on active duty, go to www.opm.gov/flsa/oca/compmemo/2001/2001-09a.asp.
February 17th, 2012 | Sick leave
Q: I am 7 days short of my 40 years of service, But with the sick leave , it puts me at 40 years, 3 months. Do I get a 40-year pin and certificate?
A: Whether you get a pin and a certificate is up to your agency. However, these forms of recognition are only given to employees who have actually completed a service milestone. While unused sick leave can be added to your length of service when you retire, it can’t be used to increase your service time while you are still working.
February 7th, 2012 | Leave without pay
Q: I have been employed in law enforcement for the past 13 years. Early in my career, I was ill and had leave without pay for 2 months. If I left the LEO position in seven years for a non-LEO federal position, will I have to take into account the 2 months of LWOP in ensuring I have 20 years in an LEO position? Also, am I correct that I can work 20 years in a LEO position then 4 years in a non-LEO position and retire at 50 with a law enforcement retirement?
A: As a rule, periods of leave without pay that don’t exceed six months are treated as if you were still on the job for retirement purposes. However, you’ll need to check with your personnel office to see if there are any variations to that rule affecting LEOs of which I’m unaware. As for your second question, yes, you can take a noncovered position after having served in a covered position for 20 years and retire at age 50.
January 12th, 2012 | Uncategorized
Q. I noticed the article on your site located here: http://blogs.federaltimes.com/federal-retirement/2010/04/27/service-academy-time-and-accrued-leave. I have been having a heck of a time getting my agency to credit my service academy time for annual leave. Two reasons for this: 1) I’m the first person to ask about this and 2) Our HR department doesn’t have much experience with military members. Is there any way to get a note or email from OPM stating this? Or perhaps a point of contact who can provide something That is about the only thing I can do to get my agency to credit that time. Their response now is that academy time is not active duty and they point to my DD214 as proof.
I notice from the comments in this posting that other people are running into the same problem.
A. Although Section 1115 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2008 didn’t explicitly make academy time creditable for leave accrual purposes, according to OPM, the fact that it made that time creditable for retirement purposes also made it creditable for leave accrual purposes, both prospectively and retrospectively.
January 11th, 2012 | Uncategorized
Q. I’m planning to retire early this year. After carrying a 240-hour leave balance into 2012, I’d like to work until mid-February, then use up the 240-plus hours of leave until I return to the office on my separation date the last Friday of March. Over the past five years, my unit has consistently hassled me when I request leave well in advance of the desired dates; I’ve reason to be concerned it could be much worse this time.
November 29th, 2011 | Uncategorized
Q. I am a federal employee under CSRS with 36 years of service. I’m thinking about retiring the end of this year. Is there any advantage to retiring on Saturday, Dec. 31, which is the beginning of the pay period versus Tuesday, Jan. 3, after the New Year holiday?
A. Saturday, Dec. 31, is the end of a pay period, not the beginning. If you retired then, you’ll receive a lum-sum payment for any unused annual leave you had to your credit. If you retired after that, any unused leave that exceeded the limit (usually 240 hours) would be lost. That’s why it’s called “use of lose” leave. Also, by retiring at the end of the pay period, you would be on the annuity roll the following day, Jan. 1. Because you are a CSRS employee, you could retire up to January 3, 2012 and be on the annuity roll in January. However, while you’d gain a couple of days of extra pay by staying on, you’d lose two things by doing so: any use-or-lose leave you had to your credit and a 1/30th reduction in your first month’s annuity for each day you weren’t on the annuity roll.
November 9th, 2011 | Uncategorized
Q. I am a FERS employee and would like to take eight hours leave without pay every pay period. This would be a total of 208 hours LWOP for the year. Can I do this, or must I go part time?
A. You’d have to get your supervisor’s permission to take eight hours of leave without-pay every pay period. The same would be true is you asked to go part time. The decision is up to your supervisor, based on your agency’s needs for your services. If they can spare you, fine; if they can’t, you’re out of luck.
October 25th, 2011 | Uncategorized
Q. The fiscal 2008 National Defense Authorization Act requires the military services, upon request, to review certain separations for medical conditions where the rating was 20 percent or less. There is a possibility I will be granted medical retirement under this NDAA, and I am curious as to how this will affect my service-connected disability leave. I have been civil service since Nov. 15, 2005, and have a current SCD leave date of Feb. 11, 1994. My retirement will be based on a service-connected disability that was not incurred in combat or caused by an instrumentality of war; however I want to know do I fall under any other exceptions to SCD leave since I have become eligible for military retirement while serving as a civilian employee. If so; where can I find these exception in the USC?
A. I have reviewed the Determining Creditable Service Service section in OPM’s Guide to Processing Personnel Actions (http://www.opm.gov/feddata/gppa/Gppa06.pdf) and can find no exception that fits your circumstance. The fact that you are receiving credit for your active duty service and will be receiving reserve retired pay ought not to alter that.