VERA, FEHB and sick leave


Q. My agency has announced their intent to restructure my organization and to offer early retirement and buyouts. I understand that my annuity will be immediate with no reduction for age, and that I can receive the special retirement supplement at age 56 until age 62 when Social Security kicks in. I would be age 49 at the time of retirement with 25 years of service. I do not understand how the Federal Employees Health Benefits will work. Will I be responsible for the full amount of the premium after retirement, or will there still be a portion paid by the government? I understand that premium payments will no longer be pretax.

Also, since the retirement would be in 2014 and I am a FERS employee, 100 percent of my sick leave can be counted, but is this applied to my time in service for the purpose of calculating my annuity and does it have to be in 30-day (one-month) increments?

A. If you have been enrolled in the FEHB program for the five consecutive years before you retire or, at a minimum, for the period beginning before the early retirement was authorized, you can carry that coverage into retirement. Unless you are a Postal Service employee, you’ll pay the same amount for your premiums as you did when you were an employee. (Through labor negotiations, Postal Service employees pay less for their premiums. When they retire, they pay the same as everyone else.)

Because you’ll be retiring after Dec. 31, 2013, you’ll get full credit for any unused sick leave in computing your annuity. Since only full months are used in computing an annuity, any leftover hours of actual service will be combined with any hours of unused sick leave. For retirement purposes, 5.797+ hours equals one day (2,087 hours in a work year divided by 360). Therefore, on average 174 hours equal one month.


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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

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