Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

FERS, military service and disability

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Q. I’m 51 with 27 years of technician service in the Army National Guard and may be medically disqualified on the military side of the house. I’m wondering if this falls under the FERS discontinued service retirement formula or if it would be a FERS disability retirement and fall under the formula of 60 percent the first year and 40 percent after that.

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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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Multiple sources of retirement money

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Q. I am a retired officer with 27 years of active military service and am receiving military retirement pay. I am also getting VA disability pay. I also have been working for the federal government for five years. If I retire, can I collect all three payments: military, VA disability and FERS?

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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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Reserve service and buyback

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Q. I am a retired reservist receiving retirement reservist pay. I am also a FERS employee getting ready to retire. I’ve already paid the FERS deposit for two years of active military service. I also have DD-214s for four months of basic training and nine months of active service for attending the transportation officer in residence school. I need to know 1) can I pay a deposit for these two periods? 2) most importantly, will this reduce my reserve retirement? 3) must I sign a military retirement pay letter, even though I assuredly do not wish to waive my reserve retirement pay?

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Pension after four years of Post Office work

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Q. I worked for the U.S. Post Office for around two years in the late 1960s, enlisted in the Air Force and served for four years, and returned to work at the Post Office for around two years in the early 1970s after being honorably discharged. Am I entitled to a pension or benefit? If so, how do I apply for them?

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Law enforcement retirement and military buyback

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Q. I am a 38-year-old licensed medical professional for the VA with 17 years of service (10 years in VA/seven years bought back for the military service credit). A medical position in the Bureau of Prisons has been offered to me. Will my 17 years count toward law enforcement retirement? Will I have to buy back a portion of my creditable service time to equal the law enforcement percentage? Will I be able to retire at the 25-year mark under law enforcement? Is there an age waiver that will need to be completed allowing me to transfer to the bureau since I am 38?

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Military personnel records and service computation date

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Q. I am concerned about the calculation of my service computation date in two directions.

I was on active duty for about 5½ years and got off active duty in 1971.

That time is easily documented. I later joined the Army Reserve in 1979. After that, I had some periods of active duty, including one about four months long. I didn’t keep documentation. Then in 1981, I entered civil service. I gave them my orders for some of the active-duty time, and they adjusted my SCD to include it.

Many years later, the agency I worked for changed policies for those of us who took military leave. They said orders were no longer good enough; they wanted pay statements too. That made me worry that I might come to the end of my time with civil service and have OPM suddenly demand pay records for my active-duty service between 1979 and 1981. I don’t have pay records. I can’t figure out where to get them.

There is an Army pay center that kept records, and it sent me all of my records. However, it only kept the payments from the Reserve time that don’t count toward the SCD. The active-duty payments came from whatever pay center was near where the active duty was done.

But I can’t find those records. How can I find them? Should I even worry about them? Then, above and beyond that, I have figured out that I shorted myself about three weeks of active-duty time. I don’t even know what the days were, but I can tell by my consolidated Army Retirement Points Accounting System record that I did more active duty between 1979 and 1981 than I got credit for in my SCD. That is really no big deal.

I’m happy to spot the government those days. I’m mostly worried about the bigger chunk of time.

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Firefighter and military time

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Q. I am a federal firefighter in a supervisory forestry technician position. My service date is Feb. 28, 1997, for leave. Before I joined the federal fire service (I have the required three years of primary fire service), I was in the regular Army for approximately four years. Under FERS special LEO/FF retirement, I am eligible to retire with 20 years at 50 or 25 years at any age. Will my military service count toward the computation of my 25 years at any age?

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Military buyback

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Q. I have been misinformed about the buyback program.

Before attending a military benefits/buyback briefing, I had been told that once I decided to buy back my military time, my monthly military retirement pension would immediately stop.

That is the only reason I did not buy it back sooner.

For clarification, if I buy back my 22 years of military service, will I continue to receive my monthly military retirement pension until I am eligible to retire from federal employment? And on the day I am eligible and retire from federal employment, am I required at that time to waive my military pension to have my military and civilian time recomputed to receive the combined total federal service time toward my final pension?

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Law enforcement and non-law enforcement work

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Q. My service computation date is Dec. 1, 1990, and I am 45 and a Customs and Border Protection officer. I bought back my military time, and as of 2008, we are considered law enforcement and have a better retirement. I will have 30 years’ government time and be 52 in seven years. Can I retire when I have 30 years in government, or do I have to wait till I am 56 and 9 months? Am I eligible for the Social Security supplement, and if so, when?

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Early retirement at 30 years and military buyback

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Q. I have 20 years of military service and will have 10 years three months of federal service when I am scheduled to return from overseas. I will be 52½. I want to submit for early retirement with 30 years’ combined service. Should I buy back my military time or receive dual retirement if my request for early retirement is approved?

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Military buyback and severance pay

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Q. I am a new civil employee. I received an early-out due to force reduction. I am a 50 percent disability veteran I paid the severance pay to the Veterans Affairs Department before I could receive compensation. Now I want buy back my military time toward federal retirement. Is the severance pay included in my total earnings during my active duty? If so, is severance pay deducted from the amount to buy back time, since it was paid to the VA?

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