Federal work and county retirement

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Q. I am planning to retire from service with Los Angeles County at age 60. I will be eligible for a retirement allowance from my county defined benefit plan. The county does not participate in Social Security; however, by age 67, I will have enough Social Security credits from other jobs. Can I work full time for the Veterans Affairs Department? If so, would my VA salary be affected by the county retirement (offset)? If I work enough at the VA to become vested and qualify for retirement in FERS, will my VA retirement be affected by my county retirement?

A. You could work full-time for the VA without any effect on your county annuity. Because you’d be a FERS employee, you’d also be covered by Social Security. If you applied for a Social Security benefit at age 62, you’d be subject to the Social Security earnings limit, which is $14,640 in 2012. The earnings limit would probably eliminate that benefit. If you worked to age 67, you’d be able to receive your full Social Security benefit without any reduction. If you retired before age 67, you could begin receiving it immediately. The percentage you’d receive would depend on your age. As for vesting in FERS, you’d need to have five years full time and be at least age 62 to be entitled to an annuity.

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