Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Retirement age

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Q. I am a federal law enforcement officer. I am aware that I can retire at age 50 if I have 20 years experience in a primary law enforcement officer position. If I have 20-plus years primary law enforcement officer experience, but separate from the government at age 47 or 48, can I still receive benefits beginning at age 50?  Would I still be able to receive my pension, health benefits, etc., beginning upon my 50th birthday? Or am I required to work for the government up until my 50th birthday?

A. If you don’t wait until age 50 but instead resign, you’d be eligible for a deferred retirement at your minimum retirement age. MRAs range between 55 and 57, depending on your year of birth.

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Service computation date and FERS retirement

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Q. I am contemplating retirement with a separation date of Jan. 6, 2014. Under FERS, my creditable service for retirement (on Jan. 6, 2014) will be 29 years and two months (service computation date of Oct. 24 1984). My creditable service for RIF and leave (on Jan. 6, 2014) will be 31 years and seven months (service computation date of June 20, 1982). The estimate I have indicates the MRA+10 provision, reducing my annuity by approximately 35 percent (5 percent each year under 62; I will be 57 in January). From an eligibility standpoint, which would be the correct creditable service date to use? I understand the annuity formula (1 percent x high 3, etc); if I have at least 30 years of service and have reached MRA, why such a huge penalty when the annuity is already based on the years I was able to contribute to the annuity portion of FERS?

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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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FERS retirement and leave

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Q. I am a FERS employee and was hired in January 1984. I will reach MRA (56) with 31½ years of service in early July 2015.

What is the best day for me to retire in 2015 to get credit for the most annual and sick leave?

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FERS retirement options

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Q. I have some vague idea that some benefits are linked to completing 10 years of federal service, but I can’t find details or facts.

I’m under FERS, have a service computation date of 2004, have worked full time since 2007 and worked TERM appointment 2004-2007.

I thought I would last until 2014. However my elder parent and young grandchild could both use my service and time, and thus I am considering leaving before my 2014 date and working from home in a nonfederal job.

How would that affect my benefits — just resigning before 10 years? I’m only 55 and won’t be submitting for retirement benefits until 63 or later.

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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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MRA and special retirement supplement

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Q. I have a question about MRA+10 retirement. I am a FERS employee, age 58 with 26 years of service. Can I retire now on an unreduced annuity and also collect the special retirement supplement until I reach age 62? Or do I have to deduct 5 percent for each year I am under the age of 62? Or is the 5 percent deducted from age 60 because I have at least 25 years in? In any case, the ability to collect the supplement would be key for me.

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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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Retiring at 30 years with FERS

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Q. I am a FERS employee with 22 years of service. I will have 30 years of service in eight more years and will also be 50. Can I retire with 30 years of service and collect (i.e., request an early retirement package)? I’ve read the deferred retirement, but my understanding is I would not be able to receive a pension until my MRA, 57.

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FERS, special retirement supplement and reduction in force

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Q. I have 29 years of federal service and am 50 and under FERS.

If I am involuntarily separated by a reduction in force at age 50, do I get the FERS Social Security bridge along with my Discontinued Service Retirement, or do I have to wait until I turn 56 to collect the bridge portion of my retirement? Does this start automatically with the DSR, or do I have to apply for the bridge with SSA when I am 56?

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Retirement options before MRA at 20 years in

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Q. I entered federal service as a 1811 in 2001. I will reach 20 years of service in 2021 and would like to retire (at 20 years), but I will only be 46 years old. Can I retire with partial retirement and then, upon reaching age 52, receive full retirement benefits? OR am I required to have 20 years and minimum retirement age? I am confused as to when I can retire as an 1811.

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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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FERS annuity before MRA

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Q. I am a 29-year-old FERS employee with 3½ years of service. Given sequestration and budget cuts, I fear my position may be eliminated long before I’m able to retire (MRA of 57). I’m trying to be as financially prepared as possible. I understand that I am entitled to my contributions (plus interest) to FERS regardless of years of service. I’m trying to understand when I am entitled to the government’s contribution to FERS. Is it after five years of service? For example, if I have five years of service but am let go because of budget cuts in year six (and way before my MRA), am I entitled to the government’s contribution to my FERS? Would this be considered a deferred retirement at 62?

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Law enforcement retirement as early as possible

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Q. I’m 44 with 16 years in a covered federal law enforcement position plus three military years (which I haven’t bought back yet). How soon can I retire? When I reach 20 years in service, I’ll be only 48, or do I have to wait to reach 50? Could I retire then, and if so, what would I be leaving on the table?

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Retirement at MRA with fewer than 10 years

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Q. I work for the federal Bureau of Prisons under FERS. I have eight years of active military paid for and five years’ civilian service. If I resign my position, will I be eligible to collect a deferred annuity at 57, my MRA, with the 5 percent penalty, because that will be more than 10 years’ government service combined, or will I have to wait till age 62?

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Military service and buyback

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Q. I am a traditional guardsman and am considering federal employment.

Does any of my inactive duty or mobilized time count toward retirement or leave accrual? I’m 43. What is the minimum number of years I would need to work to qualify for a pension, even deferred? Whom can I contact for more information?

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Federal retirement and re-employment

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Q. 1. I left the Fed in November 2011 with 22 years of creditable service (military time buyback included) and, as I am under my MRA of 56, would not be eligible for my retirement benefits without penalty until age 62, correct? 2. Can I work part time (consultant) on an agency’s payroll without affecting my current status, or would that part time add to my benefit? 3. Also, if I came back to the Fed and did three more years of full-time work before age 62, would that reinstate my health benefits?

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Deferred annuity under FERS

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Q. I have 14 years of federal service and resigned in July 2011 to enter the private sector. When I resigned, I was 52 and under FERS. When can I apply for my deferred annuity, and do I have the option of taking it earlier than age 62? I also understand that if I elected to take it earlier than 62, I would be penalized 5 percent per year based on what age I elect to take it (starting at 56).

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MRA retirement and pension, health insurance

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Q. I am 50, have 20 years under FERS and am thinking of retiring in six years when I reach my MRA of 56. If I do this, will I get health insurance coverage right away? Also, can I retire at 56 but delay retirement payments until 60 (or is it 62?) so I can avoid the 5 percent-per-year reduction in the payout? My main concern is keeping health insurance in place as soon as I retire at 56 — I can afford to delay the payout.

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FERS, disability and Social Security

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Q. I am trying to understand the FERS disability retirement. My wife has 34 years of federal service but has not reached her MRA. I understand the high-3 and 60 percent the first year and then the 40 percent rule after 12 months and how it affects Social Security. If she applies now for FERS disability retirement and is approved, can she then go to Social Security and apply for her full disability entitlement? Also, if she receives her Social Security 100 percent disability entitlement within 12 months, how will her FERS retirement formulate? Will she still get 40 percent of her high-3 pay and 100 percent from Social Security?

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