Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Re-employed annuitant and recalculated CSRS pension

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Q. I retired from CSRS with 36 years’ service. I have since become a re-employed annuitant and will hit the five-year mark soon. Because of the nature of the position, I did not have to give up my retired pay. When I retire, will I be eligible for a recalculated CSRS pension assuming I elected to make a deposit for the five years as a re-employed annuitant?

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Rehired annuitant and supplementing retirement

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Q. I retired from the Department of Defense in 2007 under CSRS. I began employment in 2008 as a re-employed annuitant with another government agency. Since I make no retirement contributions as an annuitant, will I be able to buy this time to supplement my retirement?

A. Yes, you can make a deposit to get credit for that time. If you have between one and five years of additional service, you’ll receive a supplemental annuity. If you have at least five years of service, you’ll receive a supplemental annuity. Note: If you were hired into a position where you received both your annuity and the full salary of your new position, you won’t get any credit for that time and cannot make a deposit to do so.

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Re-employed federal retiree wants to cancel retirement

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Q. I took a voluntary early retirement (at age 52 with 20 years of service) about five years ago and have since been re-employed with federal civil service full time. My salary is reduced by my retirement annuity, and I understand I need to work five more years to receive a recomputed retirement. Can I cancel my existing federal retirement and just receive my full salary? This may give me the more secure status of being a regular employee rather than a re-employed annuitant. A re-employed annuitant appears to be more vulnerable to reductions in force. Also, my next five years of retirement contributions are only at the reduced salary amount (salary — annuity), so I am not contributing much to my retirement; plus, since it is a reduced salary, I don’t know if these next five years can qualify as any of my high-3 years for computation.

A. No, you cannot cancel your annuity and receive your full salary. If you work for at least five years full time and then retire again, your annuity will be recomputed based on your highest three consecutive years of average basic pay, regardless of when they occurred in your career.

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Separation before NTE date and unemployment compensation

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Q. If a federal re-employed annuitant is let go prior to his “Not to Exceed” date not for cause (i.e. to save money), is he entitled to unemployment compensation?

A. Highly unlikely because you are already receiving an annuity. However, you would have to check with your state employment office to be sure.

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Retirement and reinstatement

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Q. I am 64 and plan on retiring out of civil service so that I can move back home. Even though I am not ready to retire, can I leave in my FERS annuity so, if and when I can find another position with another government agency and get reinstated, I can continue with my retirement fund? I plan on working part time, since I have over 40 credits in Social Security to help out.

A. If you simply resigned, left your contributions in the retirement fund, and found another job at a later date, you could be reinstated. However, if you retired, you couldn’t be reinstated. Instead, if you found a job, you would be a re-employed annuitant. As such, with rare exception, the salary of your new position would be offset by the amount of your annuity.

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Re-employed annuitant pay

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Q. I retired from DCAA in November 1998 as a GM13, Step 8, in northern New Jersey after 36 years of federal service as a supervisory contract auditor under CSRS. I have been thinking of returning to DCAA to work. I now live in Summerville, S.C., 20 miles from Charleston. If I took a position with DCAA in Charleston at the working grade of a GS12, how would my starting salary be calculated? Would it be what I was making in 1998 as a GM13, Step 8, increased to the 2012 level of $100,914 (adjusted for the locality pay of the rest of the U.S.), or would it be the starting salary of a GS12 of $68,809? If the starting salary is $68,809 by reducing the amount by my current retirement pay, $64,320, this would give me a salary of $4,489 or $2.16 per hour.

The other way would be $100,914 less $64,320, or $36,594, or $17.59 per hour.

A. As a re-employed annuitant, you’d be paid at the grade and step of the position in the locality where you were working, unless the hiring agency agreed to employ you at a higher step.

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Unemployment while receiving annuity

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Q. I am a re-employed annuitant at a defense agency. I have been receiving both my full annuity and salary. I have been in this position for the past eight years.

I was recently told that I would be released due to an applicant from the Priority Placement List. Can I collect unemployment? I am employed in Philadelphia and reside in New Jersey.

A. Highly unlikely. As a rule, no one receiving an annuity can collect unemployment compensation. However, the final decision rests with the employment office of your state. Check there.

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Social Security and CSRS

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Q. I was employed by the Navy as a contracting officer. After 41 years with the government, I officially retired and was drawing a monthly annuity check from OPM from my CSRS retirement plan. My former Navy employer offered me a contracting position, and I returned to the Navy as a Department of Defense re-employed annuitant, which means I still collected my CSRS annuity check monthly and was paid by the Navy.

As a re-employed annuitant, I was told I had to pay into FICA (Social Security) and was not allowed to pay into CSRS because I had officially retired. I asked why any retirement funds had to be taken out at all since (1) I was officially retired and wasn’t allowed to pay bi-weekly into CSRS or FERS, and (2) if I paid into SS, I would never be able to draw SS due to my salary.

Can I can get the money I paid into SS, or should I even have paid into SS knowing I would have not be eligible to correct SS?

A. By law, no retiree re-employed in a position that allows him to receive both his annuity and his full salary can receive retirement credit for that service. He is also required by law to have Social Security deductions taken from his salary and can’t receive a refund of those contributions even if he isn’t eligible for a Social Security benefit.

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