Q. My husband is getting close to retirement with civil service and I’m reading a lot of conflicting information regarding civil service retirement which I need clarification.

I am a military retiree and while I was on active duty,  my husband was a civil service employee.  He started in 1976 at the Naval Shipyard in Guam and when I was assigned to Kaiserslautern, Germany, in 1978, he subsequently joined me in 1979.  He obtained a civil service position in Kaiserslautern until my assignment to Army Recruiting Command at Fort Sheridan, Ill., in 1981 but was further transferred to Seattle Recruiting Battalion in 1982 and remained in the Seattle area until October 1986 when I was transferred back to Heidelberg, Germany.

While in Seattle, my husband submitted multiple SF 186s with the Personnel Office at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.  Each visit resulted in advisement that they did not have possession of his 186s.  Subsequently, in the five-year period that we were in Seattle, my husband never received any notice for an interview.  Prior to our departure for my assignment to Germany, my husband received, via mail, all copies of his SF 186 that he had submitted over the years.

I am aware that the Military Family Act was not introduced until 1985, never became a law, but subsequently was part of the Department of Defense Authorization Act, 1986.  I am also aware that FERS was created in 1986 but only became effective January 1987.  I am also aware that at the establishment of FERS, there was a three-year interim period, between Jan. 1, 1984, and Jan. 1, 1987, in which a special category was needed for certain rehired federal employees who initially came onboard under the older CSRS system but had a break in service.

My husband remains a civil service employee and will achieve minimum retirement age (62) in August 2012.  My husband was able to garner re-employment in 1986 while in Germany but was ultimately identified as a FERS employee and has since been associated with the FERS retirement plan; contributing to Social Security.

Should my husband be identified as part of the CSRS Off-set employee?  I am aware that he did not garner employment within a year’s time; but he garnered employment during the special category time frame.

Please offer clarification or point me in the direction from which I can request assessment/review of my husband’s special circumstances.

A: I suggest that he go to www.opm.gov/retire/pre/fercca/index.asp to begin the process of discovering if he’s in the right retirement system. While he is still employed, his current agency is responsible for getting the ball rolling if there’s a question about which retirement system he should be in. In preparation for that discussion, he should review the coverage chapter at www.opm.gov/retire/pubs/handbook/C010.pdf.

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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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