Author Reg Jones

Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to fedexperts@federaltimes.com.

Q. I’m a CSRS employee who is planning to retire. I’ll receive a lump-sum payment for unused annual leave in 2020. Can I have Social Security contributions deducted from this payment? It would be helpful if I could, because I only need a few more credits to be eligible for a Social Security benefit. A. No, you can’t. That’s because Social Security credits can only be earned through deductions taken from wages or self-employment.

Q. I’m a former federal employee. I received a buyout when I left three years ago. Can I be rehired on a term-appointment basis without paying back that $25,000? A. No. According to OPM: “An employee who receives a VSIP and later accepts employment for compensation with the government of the United States within 5 years of the date of the separation on which the VSIP is based, including work under a personal services contract or other direct contract, must repay the entire amount of the VSIP to the agency that paid it – before the individual’s first day of reemployment.”

Q. I have worked for the U.S. Postal Service for 43 years. I retired in 2011 with a CSRS pension. Prior to USPS, and afterwards, I worked under Social Security. I believe I have the required 40 quarters. Will the Windfall Elimination Program affect my getting Social Security and how will it affect my pension? A. While the Windfall Elimination Provision will have no affect on your CSRS annuity, your Social Security benefit will be affected by it. The WEP reduces the Social Security benefit of anyone who is receiving an annuity from a retirement system – like CSRS –…

Q. I am a GS-12 Step 10 and applied for a temporary promotion GS-14 (as I had been a GS-14 many years ago and took a 14-year break in service); it was posted as NTE 1-4 years. If after three or more years they do not make the position (six of them) permanent, and I have to return to my GS-12 Step 10 position, do the three years count as my high-3? I want to retire in five years and the high-3 is a big deciding factor. A. Your high-3 will be based on your highest three consecutive years of…

Q. My agency was downsizing, so I accepted an early retirement offer at age 50. I was covered by CSRS Offset. When I turn age 62, do I have to apply for a Social Security benefit? A. No, you don’t have to apply for a Social Security benefit. However, whether you do or don’t, at age 62 your CSRS annuity will automatically be offset (reduced) by the amount of Social Security benefit you earned while covered by CSRS Offset.

Q. What is the difference between a temporary promotion and a temporary detail? A. A temporary promotion is intended to meet the temporary needs of an agency’s work needs when those services can’t be met by other means. To be temporarily promoted, an employee has to meet the same qualification requirements that are needed for the permanent promotion. He or she receives the higher graded salary for the period assigned and gains quality experience and time-in-grade at the higher grade level. The 120 days can be made noncompetitively. In other words, the employee doesn’t have to compete with other employees…

Q. If I go on annual leave for 30 days before I retire, is there an effect on my annuity? A. The more important question is this: “Can I go on annual leave for 30 days before I retire?” The answer to that question is no. The Comptroller General has ruled that employees may not take terminal leave. While your supervisor might approve your use of some periods of annual leave, he or she would need to schedule it so that it didn’t interfere with the needs of the government. Further, most agencies require that a retiring employee be at…

Q. I’m a FERS employee. Can I retire at age 53 with 25 years of service? A. No you can’t, unless your agency offers you that opportunity because it is undergoing substantial restructuring, reshaping, downsizing, a transfer of function, or reorganization. If they aren’t, you can always resign and apply for an unreduced annuity when you reach age 60. Or you could retire under the MRA+10 provision when you reach your minimum retirement age, which would be 56 and 4 months. However, in that case your annuity would be reduced by 5 percent per year (5/12ths of 1 percent per…

Q. I’m a GS employee and have made a deposit to get credit for 10 years of active duty. Would that deposit be refunded to me if I’m called back to active duty? A. No, it wouldn’t. That would only happen if you resigned from the government and asked for a refund of all your retirement contributions. However, if you did, you would void all future entitlement to a retirement annuity.

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