Q: I am a National Guard military technician losing my military membership due to medical nondeployability and pilot grounding. Consequently, I am being involuntarily discharged from the military and my technician employment will be terminated. I am a 52-year-old FERS employee with 12.5 years active Army (I bought back service-time credit), six years career Postal Service and 10 years (hired in August 2001) National Guard service. I was told I am eligible for the National Guard Special Provision (60/40) since I have less than 20 years technician service. They stated I am also eligible for the Discontinued Service retirement with Social Security annuity, which I would roll into if my future earnings cap (80 percent) is exceeded (Special Provision would terminate). But the Social Security annuity would terminate then also. Please clarify whether this is true. When the termination comes, exactly which retirement provisions apply to me?
A: This is a civilian benefits site, so we don’t know anything about your military entitlements. What we do know is that if you are involuntarily separated from your National Guard position, you have the years and service needed for a discontinued service retirement. The CSRS component of your annuity (including CSRS Offset) would be computed under CSRS rules; the FERS component under FERS rules. You would be eligible for the special retirement supplement (SRS), which approximates the Social Security benefit you earned while covered by FERS, when you reach your minimum retirement age. If, at that time, your earnings from wages or self-employment exceed the annual Social Security earnings limit, the SRS would be reduced or eliminated. The SRS would automatically stop at age 62 when you become eligible for a Social Security benefit. Also at age 62, the CSRS portion of your annuity would be reduced by the amount of Social Security benefit you earned while covered by CSRS Offset, whether or not you apply for that benefit. Further, because you’ll be receiving an annuity — in whole or part — from a retirement system where you didn’t pay Social Security taxes (CSRS), you’ll be subject to the windfall elimination provision. The WEP reduces that Social Security benefit if you have fewer than 30 years of substantial earnings under Social Security.