Q: I got hired in the Defense Department fire service as a GS 0099 student trainee (firefighter) in 2006. When I started I was scheduled to work a full 72-hour work week and was not restricted from any duties. All my retirement codes were “M” for special retirement. In 2009, most of the 0099 SF 50 codes were changed to “K,” but not all of them: Four of my SF 50s are still “M.” Does it matter the series number for special retirement? I need to know the proper code.
A: It makes a tremendous difference. “M” is the code for law enforcement officers and firefighters who are covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System and Federal Insurance Contributions Act-Special: In other words, special-category employees who are entitled to the more generous retirement benefits. “K” applies to everyone else covered by FERS and FICA who will be entitled to regular retirement benefits. Any period of service which is classified as “K” isn’t covered service for law enforcement or firefighter retirement purposes.