Q: I am a Civil Service Retirement System Offset employee who has about 28 years of civil-service time with the Navy. I have about $19,000 to pay back for retirement money I withdrew. I have already paid back my military portion. Under a deferred retirement, I would be allowed to continue paying back my civil retirement debt up to six months before my 62nd birthday, which is when I’m suppose to file for retirement with the Office of Personnel Management.
My divorce decree states once I retire from the civil service, the alimony ceases. Since a deferred retirement is one of the legal ways of retiring from the federal civil service, I would like to elect a deferred retirement, leave the Navy civil service and then begin a new job with the Army, four days afterward.
If I officially retire from the federal civil-service (i.e., under a deferred retirement), as far as I’m concerned, without being a lawyer, a deferred retirement meets the “retired from civil service” stipulated in my divorce decree. Whomever I work for afterwards is none of anyone’s business, even though in this case, it happens to be with the Defense Department again.
Can I do this? In other words, if I officially get out on a deferred retirement on Dec. 5, could I start a new civil-service career after the four-day separation requirement, say Dec. 10?
A: Your understanding of deferred retirement is incorrect. A deferred retirement is only available to employees who leave government before being eligible to retire and have at least five years of creditable service. If you leave government, you would neither be retired nor would you be able to redeposit any money to get credit for your refunded service. Only employees can do that.
If you were to leave government and apply for a position in another agency of government, you would simply be picking up where you left off. All your years of creditable service would be taken into account; and, if you hadn’t repaid the refund you took with accumulated interest, that debt would still be outstanding. Within the government there isn’t any way that you could keep your two periods of employment separate.
Even if you met the age and service requirements to retire on an immediate annuity, your prior service would still be a matter of record if you were hired by another agency. In most cases, the salary of your new position would be offset by the amount of your annuity.