Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Buyback age limit

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Q. I am 65 and still working but at this time, I have not or did not buy back my military time, is there an age limit where I do not have to buy it back, or yes, if I want the extra money, I will have to buy it back?

A. There isn’t an age limit on when you may make a deposit to get credit for your active-duty service. The only requirement is that you make that deposit before you retire. Note: If you are a CSRS employee who doesn’t make a deposit, you’ll still get credit for the time in determining your eligibility to retire; it just won’t be used in the computation of your annuity. If you are a FERS employee, you won’t get any credit for it unless you make a deposit.

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Disability retirement

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Q. I am a GS-1811 with just over 16 years of federal service. I was grandfathered into federal service at 42 and will have to retire at 62 (I am 59). Additionally, I have bought back 12 years of Army active-duty time. My Agency has proposed my removal for performance reasons, which I can directly attribute to my worsening Adult ADD. They are leaning toward an involuntary disability retirement vice removal. If I am disability retired, will my 12 years of bought-back Army time be included in the annuity calculation? Will it also be included in the subsequent calculation when my disability retirement is converted to a regular retirement at age 62? Read the rest of this entry »

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Excess contributions

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Q. I began my civilian federal employment in May of 1974. I am a Vietnam era veteran with three years military time and paid back that time. My service comp date for retirement is May 1971. I am going to retire at the end of this year. Based on the above, will all CSRS contributions I paid after reaching 41 years, 11 months, qualify for refunding to me?

A. If you have 41 years and 11 months of service from which retirement deductions were taken (or a deposit made), any excess deductions will be refunded to you with an option to purchase additional annuity.

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Military buyback

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Q. I am retired Army with 22 years and nine months being paid my monthly retirement check. I retired in May 2011. I started as a GS FERS employee in February 2013. I am in a target GS 12 position, which basically means that I will be a GS 12 in February 2017. I did the DFAS Payback estimator for military time and it stated that I would owe about $18,000. My monthly retirement check right now is about $2,200 a month. I know that I will have to waive that once I retire from civilian service in order to combine the civil service time and the military time. How much more in retirement would I get as a GS FERS employee, and is it worth the $18,000? I have heard that retirees don’t buy back their time because it is not worth it. I heard that this program is designed for the person who did any number of years but did not retire. Is that true? Do you know of retirees that buy back their time? Read the rest of this entry »

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Deferred retirement

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Q. I’m a federal law enforcement officer with 16 years covered and three years federal service not covered. If I decide to take a deferred retirement will I still get the enhanced 1.7 x the number of years x my high three and 1 x the number of non-law enforcement years X my high-3? I also bought back 13 years of military service. How will those years be added? Read the rest of this entry »

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Creditable service

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Q. I enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1984 and retired in 2004 with 20 years of service. In March 2006, I was hired as a Defense Department civilian and have been so to date. I completed my deposit for Military Service Credit in 2011 and have my letter for “paid In full.” I would like to retire at MRA 56 years, four months (1966). Does my time in service (military), if combined at retirement, override the minimum years of creditable service, therefore foregoing the penalty for retiring under age 60. My understanding is that you need MRA plus 30 years service to avoid a penalty. I would have 20 years military service and 16.5 years civil service. I might stay longer, but wanted to know my options. Read the rest of this entry »

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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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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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