Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

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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Military time

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Q. I have three periods of LWOP due to military deployments over the past 11 years. I am in the process of buying back my time. I have been told that my service deposit should be calculated at a lesser rate, not the standard 3 percent, due to me being a federal employee. I cannot find information regarding the lesser percentage. Can you clarify this issue and provide a reference? Read the rest of this entry »

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Buyback on terminal leave

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Q. I have 28 years of active-duty service in the Navy. I am on terminal leave and just started working as a civilian federal employee. Can I buy back my military service while on terminal leave to get credit in the federal service without losing my military retirement once my terminal leave is over and I am fully retired from the military? Read the rest of this entry »

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Within grade pay increase

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Q. I will separate from the military in September with 11 years, 6 months of service. I am looking to get a federal GS job where I can buy back my military time. I know this goes toward the pension plan, but does it also count anything toward GS within-grade pay increase?

A. As a non-retired former member of the military, your active-duty service will be used to establish your service computation date and, thus, your annual leave accrual category. It doesn’t count toward the step at which you are hired. However, if you have special skills that would make you highly desirable, you can try negotiating for a higher entry step with the agency that is considering hiring you.

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Active-duty military service and leave accrual

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Q. Does active-duty time for basic training, AIT and PLDC (now WLC or some such thing) count for leave accrual in a GS job with the USDA when it was done as a member of the National Guard? Is it generally done under title 32 or title 10? I assume my one-year deployment to Iraq also counts for leave accrual and for buyback purposes. I have no idea where the orders are for the three periods in question (yes, I could request copies), but they appear to be included in box 12d (total prior active service) of the dd214 from the deployment.

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Military and law enforcement service and retirement

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Q. I am a veteran with six years of active-duty service, and I am employed as a federal law enforcement official with seven years of service under FERS. I am considering leaving federal service. Am I eligible for any retirement benefits after age 62, or do I simply lose the 13 years that I have in military and civilian service?

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CSRS, Social Security and military service

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Q. I just retired from the federal government Dec. 28 under CSRS at age 66. My service comp date is March 3, 1975. Now I am told I have only 31 years in federal service because they are not counting my six years on active duty with the Army. They say it’s because I’m eligible for a Social Security benefit, and I’m receiving one. I thought they went by the service computation date. If I am required to buy back my military time, of six years, to get a larger monthly annuity, can I still do that? How much will I have to pay to buy back the six years of military? Does it have to be paid all at once? The Social Security Administration representative said my Social Security benefit will be reduced because I’m a CSRS retiree.

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Military buyback and reserve retirement

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Q. I served in the Air Force on active duty for nine years, from 1994 to 2003, and have continued to serve in the Air Force Reserve since separating from active duty. I plan to work at least 25 years in the Air Force (combined active duty and Reserve).

I have been a civilian federal employee since 2003.

I am 45. My minimum retirement age is 56 years and 6 months.

If I buy back my nine years of active-duty time toward a FERS retirement, will I lose anything from my eventual Reserve retirement? Will my nine years of active duty count toward both retirements?

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DoD and VA benefits

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Q. I am a Navy Reserve 05 with 33 years of service, 12 of them active duty.

I was recalled to active duty and have completed eight years of active duty in direct OIF/OEF Presidential Recall. I turn 58 in November and have been accepted to a job at the VA. I could have retired in September and collected money, but I stayed on active duty.

Now that I am going to come off orders and work for the VA, how do I choose what to do with the joining of DoD and VA retirement? Can I retire from the Navy and collect retirement pay while working at the VA and collect VA benefits?

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Military reserve service, civilian service and FERS

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Q. I am currently a GS-12 at U.S. Southern Command. I served 31 years in the Army National Guard, U.S. Army Reserve, and was called to active duty on and off for around 7½ years. I bought back most of this Army Reserve active-duty time, and the amount just showed up today in block 20 of my civilian leave and earnings statement (military deposit paid). This is the first time in my Army career where I see that a reservist has it over an active-duty soldier in that he doesn’t have to combine his retirement with a civilian retirement.

However, yesterday, the Army Benefits Center-Civilian called me at work and said it is shredding my FERS retirement packet! Months ago, when I began the military deposit process, I was told by two ABC-C retirement counselors that I could buy my years of active military service in the Reserve and add to my three-plus years of federal civilian service to qualify for a small FERS retirement annuity in that I’m older than 62 and would then have far more than five years of creditable service.

The counselor who shredded my packet told me there are a lot of “new people” at ABC-C and I was misinformed. So now, instead of retiring, I’m resigning very soon for a variety of reasons (one being that I’m one of three candidates selected for a GS-13 position in my “home state” but am on hold due to the hiring freeze).

What form do I fill out, and where do I mail it to reclaim my funds?

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CSRS retirement and Social Security

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Q. I have been a federal employee with the Department of Veterans Affairs covered by CSRS since October 1977 and have four years of military service (I paid the military deposit in full). I am 75 and have started receiving Social Security. I will be retiring in about one year and eight months, having reached 41 years and 10 months years of service, including military service, hoping to have earned or reached the 80 percent retirement annuity. I am at the top level of my GS-12 grade step 10. What will my civil service and Social Security benefits be? Or, how I can estimate the figure?

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Military buyback deposit and FERS retirement refund

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Q. An employee is resigning with two years of service and has asked for a refund of his military deposit. Can a federal employee get a refund of his military deposit without taking a refund of his FERS retirement?

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Military buyback and retirement effect

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Q. I’ve been working for the Department of Veterans Affairs since February 1991 at GS 11. Before that, I was in the military from October 1981 to February 1988. I haven’t bought back my military time yet, but I am considering it. At what age would I be eligible for retirement with military time included versus without, and what would be the difference in earnings and benefits?

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6(c) coverage and retirement

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Q. I joined the Marine Corps in 1988, served until 1992 and bought back my deposit. I then worked under federal law enforcement — 6(c) coverage — until 2001, when I transferred to a non-6(c) covered position until 2004, with no break in service. I then immediately obtained a position under the 6(c) provisions with no breaks in service as a special agent and am still employed. I am 43 years old and will have 32 years of federal service at age 50.

At what age can I switch to a non-6(c) position and still retire with the law enforcement/firefighter retirement? Am I correct that I can switch to a non-6(c) covered position at 46 because I will have 20 years under the covered 6C provision and still retire at 50?

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Active duty, reserve and buyback

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Q. I am 60 and have 18 years of FERS service. Also, I have been an Army reservist for 25 good years, with two years of active-duty time, and about 2,200 points, of which about 720 are from active duty.

1. Could I buy back military time that would bring me up to 20 years of FERS service so I could retire now, instead of waiting for age 62? 2. If I buy the two years back, I would still have more than 20 years for an Army Reserve pension. Must I waive the whole thing, or just the pay that comes from the active-duty points?

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FERS, CSRS Offset and service

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Q. After serving 12 years in the military, I went to work for the federal government Jan. 13, 1982, and left federal service in October 1987, having served five years and nine months. I was in CSRS that entire time. I withdrew my CSRS contributions when I left. I came back to work for the federal government in July 2006 and was placed in CSRS Offset, with the option of going into FERS. I opted to be in CSRS Offset. At that time, I paid the deposit plus interest to get credit for my military time for pension purposes. I read the “Ask the Experts” response of March 30, 2010, where it said that as of Jan 1, 1987, any current employee with fewer than five years of service under CSRS was automatically converted to FERS. On Jan. 1 1987, I was 13 days short of five years, although I had previous military time and more than 13 days of annual leave and sick leave on the books. The “Ask the Experts” answer of Jan. 18, 2012, seems to say that I was correctly placed in CSRS Offset. Other pamphlets I read say you need five years as of Jan 1, 1987. I was 13 days short, excluding military time. I think my military time counted because my service computation date is in 1969.

Now I am concerned that my agency might have placed me incorrectly into CSRS Offset and I might be in for a surprise when I retire. Am I correctly in CSRS Offset? Do I need to take any action?

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Military reserve retired pay and federal employee retired pay

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Q. I am a retired Marine. My wife was in the Marines 7½ years. When she got out of the Marines, she still had six months of obligated service on her contract and had to ask Headquarters Marine Corps for a conditional release so she could go into the Army National Guard. She eventually got hired by the federal prison system. We bought back her 7½ years of service in the Marine Corps and had it transferred to the federal prison system. We were told when she completes 20 actual years of service with the prison, she will get paid for 27½ years for pay purposes since we bought back 7½ years.

In August, she retired from the Army National Guard with about 20 years and eight months of service and received her retirement letter. At age 50, she will be eligible to retire from the federal prison system. Will she get that 27½ pension from the prison? Will she also get her full reserve pension from the Army National Guard later on, and do those 7½ years in the Marines still count as part of her Army National Guard pension even though I paid to have those years transferred to the federal prison system retirement? Please explain it to me in plant life form so I can break it down to my wife.

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Temporary employment and service computation date

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Q. I served four years in the military on active duty and seven years in the reserves. I was hired as an Army civilian temp in 1991 and was kept until 1993, then laid off. Then I was called back in 2004 as permanent employee under FERS. I paid back the deposit for four years of military time, and they processed a new SCD Merge and Purge of OPF complete.

Now my SF50 action gives a service computation date of 1998 (leave). The EBIS preliminary retirement report says my SCD is 2000. The left hand isn’t speaking to the right hand.

I worked 2½ years for the federal government. That should count as creditable service. I was even given back my sick leave of more than 500 hours. Shouldn’t I have to pay back the service credit payment? Why is the EBIS retirement estimate wrong?

Example:

Military time: 1976-1980 = four years

Temp time: 1991-1993= 2½ years

Current time: 2004-2013= 10 years

That’s 16½ years of working for the government. Simple math.

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Military service and buyback for earlier retirement

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Q. I’ll soon leave military service to work as an SES.

1) How many military years can I buy back into federal retirement system? I have 15 years of active duty and 10 years of reserve duty. Can I buy back all 25 years? 2) If so, does that mean I can retire from federal service after five years of service, totaling 30 years total? I would be age 50 at that time, born in 1967.

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Military buyback

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Q. I am a retired soldier with 21 years of service being paid my retirement. I am also a GS FERS employee with 13 years of service. I am 56 and would like to retire in about two years. I have asked for my calculation to see if I should buy back my service time. I assume that if I buy back my time, my military retirement stops immediately. I used your calculator to check my FERS retirement and believe I got the right number for just the 13 years. If I retire under the MRA+10 provision, will I basically get my current military retirement pay plus the 13 years of civil service calculations together, or do you use a different formula? I also assume even if I buy time back, I will retain my military benefits. Should I immediately buy back the time or wait until I’m closer to retiring?

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