Q: I was employed as a GS-081 firefighter on Dec. 30, 1984, at age 20. I have met my retirement eligibility of 25 years. First, will my entire 26 or so years of experience be calculated at the special provision (firefighter) rate, or just the first 20? Second, I am in the process of taking a part-time position with the Transportation Security Administration: If I accept the job, I assume it will not affect my Federal Employees Retirement System benefits, as long as I do not leave the firefighter job, correct?
Third, if I consider a full-time TSA position, would I lose the special provision calculation for every year of service beyond my first 20 years as a firefighter? Fourth, if I do lose that provision, would it be better to officially retire from the firehouse and begin anew with TSA?
A: I can’t answer your questions as posed because they contain a mixture of fact and fiction. Instead, I’ll lead you down a straightforward path to get you the answers you need. As a firefighter with at least 25 years of covered service, you can retire at any age. Twenty years of that service will be computed using the more generous formula, the rest using the standard formula. You would also be eligible for the special retirement supplement, which approximates the Social Security benefit you earned while employed under FERS. The SRS would be reduced or stopped if you have earnings from wages or self-employment that exceed the annual Social Security earnings limit. Unless you accept a position that allows you to receive both your full annuity and the full salary of your new position, your salary would be offset by the amount of your annuity. If you did receive an appointment that allowed you to accept both, the time you spend in the new position would not be creditable for any retirement purposes.