Q: I was employed by the Senate from 1980 through 1994. During that time, I had a break in service and took a refund. I was rehired by the Senate under FERS and now work for a different government agency (I am paying back most of my deposits and redeposits). I understood that some of my Senate CSRS years would be counted at 1.7 percent in the retirement formula. But my current agency tells me that “OPM made some changes to the law that affected your service from January 1, 1984, through December 31, 1986. Any period of FICA service after Dec. 31, 1983, will be covered under FERS.” In my case, all service will be credited as FERS. Have you heard this? And where might I read more about it?
A: Your current agency is mistaken. It should have said that all employees first hired after December 31, 1983, will be covered by FERS. You weren’t first hired after December 31, 1983. You were first hired in 1980. Therefore, by law, since you had five years of service under CSRS before January 1, 1987, left government, and later returned to government service after a break of one year, you should have automatically been put in CSRS Offset (CSRS and Social Security) with the option of transferring to FERS. Therefore, all you service prior to leaving government in 1994 will form a CSRS component in your annuity when you retire. And those annuity benefits will be computed under CSRS rules, and, in your case, the rules governing a congressional employee. All benefits accrued while you are covered by FERS will be computed under FERS rules. Note: For more information about coverage, go to www.opm.gov/retire/pubs/handbook/C010.pdf.