Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Age limit for life insurance?

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Q. When I retire from the Postal Service (under FERS), can I continue paying for life insurance for my husband and me when we are over the age of 80 or 90? Or does the Office of Personnel Management not allow me to continue paying for life insurance when I reach a certain age?

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Drawing from spouse’s retirement

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Q. I retired from CSRS on disability. I have my 40 quarters. My wife is retired from Social Security. Can I draw from her account at age 62?

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Medicare Part B

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Q. I am retired military. I am 65 years old now. Do I have to pay for Medicare Part B even though no expense now?

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CSRS annuity, other income and taxes

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Q. I plan to retire this year and start my own business. I am CSRS Offset and 55 years old. How will any income I make from my business affect my pension and taxes?

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Renouncing citizenship

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Q. I am retired and receiving a CSRS pension. If I move to another country and become a citizen of that country, will I still receive my CSRS retirement?

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Affordable Care Act

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Q. I heard on television that, under the Affordable Care Act, children can stay on your medical plan until age 26, but spouses are not considered dependents. My wife is a few years younger than me and, when I retire next year, will she still be covered under Federal Employees Health Benefits?

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CSRS annuity

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Q. My service computation date is Oct. 15, 1979, and I was eligible for my CSRS annuity on Sept. 23, 2008 (60 years old; 29 years of service). My plan is to retire Sept. 30. This will give me 34 years, one month and 23 days of service, counting sick leave. Is my retired pay based on my age now (65 years old, five years or 10 percent over the 60/20 requirement) or my years of service (34 — four over the required 30 years or 8 percent over the requirement)?

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Windfall elimination provision

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Q. I retired in 2006 under CSRS as an air traffic controller. I had 33 years of government service between the Air Force and the Federal Aviation Administration. I started receiving Social Security disability payments this month. I receive a periodic statement from the Social Security Administration stating what my benefits are and how much I would receive each month. The statement showed $1,200 a month. I receive $705 a month instead. I’ve earned enough credits working prior to and after my CSRS career. Why am I penalized when I have earned both benefits in my opinion?

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Creditable service

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Q. My husband has worked for the federal government for the past 15 years after a career at the state level, and is thinking about retiring in a couple of years. When he was in his late teens, he worked summers (1965, 1966, 1967) for the Finance and Accounts Office, U.S. Army, Department of Defense. May he use those summer employment opportunities as credit toward retirement? If yes, whom would he contact to find out what he needs to do to have these credited?

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Cashing out a time-off award

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Q. I read the March 25 posting “Annual Leave and cashing out.” I’m retiring June 1, I will have 320 hours of annual leave and, in addition, a 40-hour time-off award. My Civilian Personnel Advisory Center representative advised I could not cash out the time-off award, that I could only use it or lose it. I would like to add it to the regular annual and cash it out. Are they correct about not being able to cash out those 40 hours?

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Military buyback

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Q. I retired from the Air Force in 2003 after 26+ years of active service. I am divorced and split the retirement 50/50 with my ex-wife. I’m a GS employee with 10 years under FERS. Can I buy back my time? If so, would it even be beneficial to do so?

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CSRS retirement benefit and state taxes

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Q. Is the CSRS retirement benefit taxable in Massachusetts?

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Best time to retire

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Q. I am a CSRS employee who will be 55 years old in September 2015 and will have 38 years of federal service. Some are telling me to stay until I have 41 years because of the added benefit. What’s the big difference? I’d like to go as soon as I’m eligible.

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Reduced hours and high-3

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Q. I am a full-time Postal Service employee covered under CSRS. I have more than 30 years of service (active Postal Service + military buyback). I am still too young to retire, and will probably work another seven to 10 years. Recently, I changed to a nontraditional full-time position (NTFT) of 35 hours per week. Can you tell me how this reduction in weekly hours will effect the calculation of my high-3 in regards to my retirement? How far out from my retirement date would I need to change back to a full-time (40 hours per week) position to regain any benefit lost by the reduced hourly position?

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Sick leave and creditable service

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Q. I am a CSRS Offset employee in a law enforcement position. I plan to retire Sept. 1 at the age of 50 with eligibility service credit of 23 years, nine months, and 12 days. I have over 650 hours of sick leave. My computation service credit is 30 years, 11 months, and nine days without including the 650 hours of sick leave. Does including the 650 hours of sick leave to my computation service credit provide me with any additional annuity? Also, will my annuity be based on my eligibility service credit or my computation service credit?

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Social Security reduction

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Q. I am a retired GS-1811 (federal law enforcement) CSRS retiree (2005) with 25 years civil service and 7 years military I bought back. I’m 59 now and when I reach 62 or older and want to collect Social Security, I know my CSRS retirement will be reduced, but by how much? I used SSA.gov/estimator and got the figures, but there was no place to enter the fact I have a federal retirement. Do the figures I received on SSA.gov/estimator already factor my federal law enforcement retirement?

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COLA

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Q. I became a CSRS retiree as of Nov. 30. I received my first pension payment for December in early January. I always thought that I would be eligible for my first cost-of-living adjustment starting in 2014. But the retirement article “2013: Employee pay is frozen, but retirees get 1.7% COLA,” states: “If you’ve been retired for less than one year when you become eligible for a COLA, the amount you get will be proportional to the number of months you’ve been on the annuity roll. For example, if you were on the annuity roll in June 2012, you’d receive half of the 2013 COLA.” According to this statement, I was on the annuity roll in December 2012. Would I receive a COLA equal to 1/12 of 1.7 percent?

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Break in service and vested time

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Q. I am a 29-year-old federal employee and I may have to move at some point in next few years because of my husband’s work or if I go back to school. I have been working for 2½ years and I am starting to build up my Thrift Savings Plan (all L2050; if I leave, I am hoping to return to a job in the federal government at some point). I am wondering how vesting works for both TSP and my FERS annuity. Will I have to work a consecutive five years to keep both before I can leave, or do I bank that time if I decide to come back? For example, if I work for 3½ years then leave and come back two years later and work for 30+ years, will I keep what was put into the TSP and my annuity during my first 3½ years when I come back?

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First-year rule

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Q. In the first year retirement, you can get your full check after you retire, say, in June, but if you already made $60,000 at that point in combined income with your wife, do you end up paying 85 percent of it back?

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Terminated before retirement

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Q. I was an air traffic controller. My Federal Aviation Administration hire date was Sept. 30, 1990. I was terminated March 8 — 261 days from being eligible for retirement because I lost my medical. My 50th birthday is Nov. 24. I have over 22 years of “good time” and five years of military time, which I bought back, for a total of 27 years of government service. The FAA says I can file for a disability retirement, but otherwise I am entitled to nothing. Can this be right? Even if I get the disability retirement, it will be less than what I would have received at age 50.

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