FERS and foreign service retirement


Q: I plan on applying for deferred retirement under FERS (I have more than five years of civilian service and will be 62 later this year). My most recent government job was with the foreign service (period of service just a little over a year). The OPM form I am filling out asks if I was ever employed under another retirement system for federal employees. I assume this is where I would put my foreign service information. Am I to also fill out the Foreign Service Retirement System form to see if I have any annuity in that system or does the OPM form take into account my time with the State Department? I am single and am unsure which annuity election box to check on the RI 92-19 form. It seems they all talk about survivor annuity (for spouses) — no box says “single” or “unmarried” (other than a previous box that does ask if you are married). Do I choose box 3 (“I choose an annuity payable only during my lifetime”)?

A: Put your foreign service information in Section B-Federal Civilian Service. You don’t need to fill out a foreign service retirement form because you did not work in that system long enough to qualify for any benefit. In Section E-Marital Information, you will have checked “No” when answering the question, “Are you married?” Section F-Survivor Annuity Election asks you to initial the box that matches your situation. Numbers 1 and 2 are clearly for those who have a spouse and don’t apply to you. Number 3 is probably the one you want to initial if you want an annuity that is payable only during your lifetime. Number 4 applies only if you wish to provide an annuity to someone who has an insurable interest in you. That means someone who is financially dependent on you. If you make that election, you would have to establish that fact and have a medical exam at your own expense to make sure that you are in good health.


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Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to fedexperts@federaltimes.com.

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