Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Temporary federal work and retirement credit

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Q. I worked as a temporary hire for two years aboard the Thomas G. Thompson, the University of Washington research vessel, and received time stubs for those periods. I also had my merchant marine Z-Card at the time. I am now employed as a federal officer and want to know if this time counts toward retirement.

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Retiring early on sick leave

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Q. I work for USPS under FERS. On Feb. 4, 2015, I will be 57 and have 30 years of service. I will also have approximately six months of sick leave. Can I use my sick leave as days worked and retire six months earlier?

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Retirement requests and HR inaction

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Q. I recently was hired by the VA National Call Center as a legal administrative specialist after many years of separation from the federal government. I worked as a senior personnel management specialist for three federal agencies in Boston and left in 1986 when my husband was dying. I have been waiting for more than five months for my service computation date and leave category to be adjusted. When I left federal service, we did not have the benefit of computers, but such adjustments were typically made in less than a month for our employees. As I am a senior, having my time properly credited for CSRS retirement and having access to my correct accumulated leave is important. Repeated contacts to our HR liaison are fruitless. I’m laughingly told by management that some people have waiting four years for their leave to be corrected. I will be retired in four years. I have been researching the regulations and cannot find any required timelines for these actions. Is this correct? Do I have any recourse? I am also appalled that employees are told not to contact HR directly at our VA Columbia National Call Center. We are told to submit a request by email to our supervisors.

Some HR issues are none of my supervisor’s business. This is totally inappropriate. Please advise on recourse for this issue also. I tried to access an email the VA’s Office of HR Management but could not find one.

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Retirement and health insurance premiums

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Q. I am 65, have worked for USDA intermittently since 1965 (recurring and temporary in the early years) and have been in my present position with USDA-ARS since 1999. I plan to retire (in FERS) in two or three years. My insurance provider for more than 10 years has been Blue Cross/Blue Shield Federal Employee Program. I am signed up for Medicare Part A. My wife, several years younger than I, is a health provider in private practice. She and my two children (elementary school age) are now covered under the federal employee plan above. My understanding is they can remain covered by the plan when I retire (although some aspects of plan coverage change because of my enrollment in Medicare Part A). After retirement, can I continue to pay premiums (covering me and my family) of the same amount as I now pay? In other words, will the U.S. government continue to pay the same portion of the premium as it does now?

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Retiring while on sick leave

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Q. May a federal employee retire with all earned benefits while on sick leave, or must he return to work for a specified amount of time?

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Pension eligibility

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Q. I worked for the National Security Agency from 1961 to 1968. Am I eligible for a pension?

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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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Two pensions?

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Q. I retired from the Marine Corps after 21 years of service in 2002 and I’m receiving retirement pay. I began working with the State Department and will be eligible to retire at age 59 with 20 years of service. Will I be able to retire from the State Department and receive a pension and still receive my pension from the Marine Corps?

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Residency and creditable service

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Q. I’m a federal employee in a Veterans Affairs Department hospital. Before actual employment, I spent three years doing medical residency in VA. Will those three years in training count toward my creditable service for retirement?

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Hazard pay and annuity computation

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Q. I have been told by different people that environmental [hazard] pay is figured into your retirement. Can you explain this for me?

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Survivor annuity

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Q. My father who lives in Puerto Rico, is retired from the Postal Service, and is 64 years old. He told me that if he passes, I’m listed to get his pension which would be $1,200 a month, what he gets now. He is not married, and I’m curious if it’s that simple. Am I eligible? Will I get that much? For how long? I am 34.

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Deferred annuity

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Q. I am a Postal Service employee under FERS, I am over 55 years old and have about 26½ years of service. If I left USPS to work somewhere else in the private sector, would I be able to collect my annuity payments from USPS every month, or would I have to wait until I retire completely to start collecting?

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‘Quitting’ FEHB and re-enrolling

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Q. Can a retired employee quit his Federal Employees Health Benefits in retirement for, say, Tricare for Life and Medicare if retired military, and later opt to switch back to FEHB?

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Disability compensation and annuity

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Q. I’m a 100 percent disabled veteran, effective April 2008, with war-incurred injuries.

In 2010, I applied for disability retirement while working for the Postal Service with 14 years of service and did not buy back my military time.

The Office of Personnel Management calculated my high-3 on my postal salary alone. Should they not have calculated my Veterans Affairs Department compensation income from 2008, since it was a war-incurred injury that led me to retire? Is there a statue that protects vets who have war-incurred injuries? And does OPM allow special compensation for this matter?

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Unused sick leave

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Q. I plan to retire after 20 years of service at age 64 in 2015. I understand that I will be paid for unused annual leave. Will I be paid for unused sick leave?

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Service computation date

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Q. Can a person who is retired from federal civil service and receiving a retirement check keep their service computation date upon rehire?

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WEP

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Q. I would like to know who is responsible for informing employees who work for the government of the windfall elimination provision. I was not told about the WEP until I went to the Social Security office to file for my Social Security retirement. My Social Security benefits were reduced by more than $1,000 per month. I worked hard all my life with two jobs for over 30 years. For what? Just to have my benefits go to someone who did not work but gets benefits. How are you to be informed of this law?

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Medicare Part B

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Q. I am a recent retiree and have to decide whether to obtain Medicare Part B coverage. I have, and intend to keep, my Blue Cross coverage. I am trying to determine whether I should opt for Medicare Part B for my wife and I, even though I have Blue Cross. The Medicare Part B monthly payments would range about $150 for each of us.

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Catch-62

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Q. I was told I am included in the catch 62 provision. I served four years in the Air Force from 1974 to 1978 and began Postal Service employment in 1979 (to present). I’d like to retire this year. I also have 2,282 hours of sick leave, and my service computation begins in 1975.

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Annuity after death

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Q. If a person dies after they receive their annuity check, what happens to the money left in their account?

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