Going from active duty to government service


Q: I started as an enlisted soldier and recently was promoted to lieutenant colonel. I plan to retire from the military Feb. 1, 2013, which will give me 24 years and six months of active-duty service. I will be almost 43 at that time. I am considering obtaining a GS job, one prospective position is at the GS12 level, but am admittedly a little confused about the overall buyback program, and have the following hypothetical questions:
1. I understand I would have to work at least five years in the GS position to qualify for a retirement. Is this true, especially given that I would be 48 years old? If so, what would my retirement amount of pay be?
2. If I would need to work more than the minimum of 5 years in the GS position, then how long in either total number of years or in terms of my age or a combination of both?
3. If I planned to work 10 years, I would be 53 years old and would be curious to know what my retired pay would be. Would my military retirement continue?
4. Not knowing much about the pros and cons about the program, I would ask for any advice or points you may have for me to consider as I prepare to make my decision on how best to proceed over these next couple of years.

A: If you work for the federal government, you will be able to make a deposit to the civilian retirement fund for your active-duty service and get credit for that time in determining your eligibility to retire and in your annuity computation. However, at retirement you would be required to waive your military retired pay. The amount of your deposit would be 3 percent of your basic pay while on active duty, not including any allowances or differentials. If you made that deposit within three years of being hired, no interest would be charged.
Whether or not you decide to make a deposit and waive your retired pay, the eligibility requirements to retire would be as follows: age 62 with five years of service, 60 with 20, 30 at your minimum retirement age (MRA) and at least 10 but fewer than 30 at your MRA. MRAs range between 55 and 57, depending on your year of birth.
Annuities are calculated as follows: 0.01 x your highest three consecutive years of average salary x your years and full months of service. However, if you retire at age 60 with at least 20 years of service, the multiplier would be increased to 0.011. Note: If you retired under the MRA+10 provision, your annuity would be reduced by 5 percent for every year you were under age 62.


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