Q. I have not seen this question answered and I know my situation applies to hundreds of employees. I was employed as an air traffic controller for 17.5 years before my branch of Air Traffic (Flight Service) was privatized. Not being eligible for retirement, I was willing but unable to secure another local federal position (air traffic or otherwise), so I went to work for the winning contractor (Lockheed Martin). When Lockheed closed my air traffic facility, I was unemployed. I eventually was rehired by the FAA for a much lower-graded administrative position. For 17.5 years as an air traffic controller I contributed 1.3 percent of my salary to my retirement. I left these funds intact when I separated. I now contribute 0.8 percent in my present position.
My question is: Using my FERS annuity formula, do I use the 1 percent (times high 3 times years of service) or the air traffic formula multiplier of 1.7 percent? I paid an extra 0.5 percent for 17.5 years, so is it pro-rated or is the 0.5 percent lost? If so, can I at least get my extra 0.5 percent (which I am calculating to be $5,250) contributions back?

A. Your annuity will be computed using the standard FERS formula: 0.01 x your high-3 x your total years and full months of service. The law doesn’t provide for a refund of the extra contributions you made to the retirement fund while employed as an air traffic controller.


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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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