Monthly Archives: June, 2010

Buying back time


Q: I am currently a 52-year-old Department of Defense Education Activity employee with 23 years in the Army National Guard (six years active). Can I buy my six years of active duty time if I will be receiving a reserve pension when I am age 60? A: Yes, you can.

Benefits eligibility


Q: I worked for the Defense Department (Long Beach Naval Shipyard) from 1980 until 1990. I had a retirement fund which I paid into. When I left the shipyard in 1990, I took out my retirement fund in a lump sum. Am I eligible for any benefits from the government besides the retirement fund I paid into. I am now 63 years old. Can you explain to me how that works. Since I started working in 1980, I believe I must have been under the Civil Service Retirement System, I worked as a GS-4 for three years, then I transferred…

Social Security earnings test


Q: I provide financial services to federal employees and have been posed with a question I have not had before. My client has recently retired under Federal Employees Retirement System and has been an Army reservist for 20-plus years. Will his reservist earnings count against his FERS supplement earnings test? If he is called to active duty, are there any other considerations? And lastly, am I correct in understanding that military or reservist retired pay does not count as earnings against the FERS supplement earnings test? A: The Social Security earnings test applies to earnings from wages or self-employment. Having…

Involuntary separation


Q: If you were a Federal Employees Retirement System dual status federal technician in the Air National Guard and were non-retained at age 50 with 28 years of service (discontinued service retirement), can you qualify for disability retirement if you have a disabling condition? Or must you take the standard FERS 1 percent high-3 retirement? A: If you are involuntarily separated from technician service after reaching age 50 and having 25 years of service, you are entitled to an immediate annuity, which would be computed using the standard FERS formula. If that separation is due to a disability that disqualifies…

Special category positions


Q: I am currently in a law enforcement position, as a Federal Employees Retirement System employee, and I am covered under the special group of employees Firefighters, Law Enforcement Officers, and Air Traffic Controllers retirement. I am considering, after 10 years of service, a lateral transfer to a GS-13 position, with the Defense Department (non-law enforcement) with more potential for promotion and a significant decrease on my commute. Since I paid an increase of .5 percent to FERS for 10-plus years, why doesn’t the 1.7 percent transfer in government to government services? A: Under the law, only those special category…

Social Security benefits


Q: I plan to retire in June 2011 on my 62nd birthday. If I work up until that date and make approximately $20,000 will my Social Security benefits be reduced? A: The Social Security Administration has a special “first year” rule that lets them pay a full Social Security check for any whole month they consider you retired, regardless of your yearly earnings. In other words, the pay you received before retiring won’t count against the earnings limit. Note: In 2010, if you are below full retirement age, you are considered retired in any month that your earnings are $1,180…

Disability payments


Q: I am an 80 percent disabled veteran right now. I have applied for a Federal Employees Retirement System disability retirement, and they I was told it would take three to six months. Is that about the right time? I thought it would go through rather quickly. I went to apply for Social Security, but until I am not working, they can’t process my claim. Same thing with Veterans Affairs. I gave them an individual unemployment form, then they said I had to wait until I am not working. Is that right? I applied for Social Security under the Wounded…

State service


Q: I am currently a federal employee, having joined an agency in January 2010, late in my career. I am 64 years old. Between 1980 and 1987 I worked for the state and I paid into the state retirement system. Later, I transferred those funds into a private IRA. I was not vested in that system after only seven years. Can I make a deposit into the federal system for those years to add resources to what will likely be five years of employment with the federal government? A: No, you cannot make a deposit and get credit for that…

Social Security disability benefits


Q: I read somewhere that if you had enough quarters of Social Security, like 28 or 30, you could qualify for your Social Security pay based on that and I would get both my Federal Employees Retirement System and Social Security disability retirement money, without there being an offset. Is that correct? A: The criteria for receiving a Social Security disability benefits are much higher than those for a FERS disability benefit. To receive such a benefit with fewer than 40 credits, you would have had to be covered under Social Security from the time you turned age 22. Under…

Service credit


Q: I was in the Air Force from May 1980 to June 1993. I took a separation incentive. I have been in Federal Employees Retirement System from 1993 to present. What do I do to get the best possible retirement pay? Buy back time? Would I have to pay back the separation incentive? I am 48 years old. A: If you want to get credit for your years of active duty service, you’ll have to make a deposit to the civilian retirement fund. In your case, that would be 3 percent of your basic military pay, not including any allowances…

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