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 was a CSRS Offset employee who retired at age 55. Since then, I’ve been working in the private sector. I’ll soon turn 62 and plan on continuing to work and not applying for a Social Security benefit until I retire again. When will my CSRS Offset annuity be reduced? A. When you turn 62, it will be automatically reduced by the amount of Social Security benefit you earned while covered by CSRS Offset.

Q. I am a FERS employee who is on disability from the U.S. Postal Service, plus I am getting Social Security Disability Insurance. What will happen when I reach 62 and start getting my pension from USPS? A. When you reach age 62, your FERS disability benefit will be recomputed as if you had worked to age 62. Therefore, your actual service will be added to the time you spent on disability. The total time will be multiplied by 1 percent (1.1 percent if you have at least 20 years of actual service and time spent on disability). That figure…

Q. I turned 62 years old in December and plan to keep on working at my agency. Can I receive Medicare if I’m still working? A. With rare exception, no one is eligible for Medicare until they reach age 65. If you are still working when you reach that age, there is no bar to your receiving its benefits.

Q. I am a federal worker with the U.S. Border Patrol for 28 years. Two months before my retirement I injured my right knee on duty. I am coming to an end of my COP and don’t have much sick leave left. Doctors are looking on total knee replacement, which will put me on leave without pay. How is LWOP calculated on pay? I heard it’s only a percentage of your basic pay. A. You would receive full credit for the time you are on LWOP, as long as it doesn’t exceed six months in a calendar year. Assuming that…

Q. I’ve been working for the federal government for 12 months and am planning to leave. If I buy back my eight years of active-duty service before I go, would I be eligible for a FERS annuity at age 62? A. No, you wouldn’t. To be eligible for a deferred annuity, you would need to have five years of actual FERS service. Active-duty service for which you’ve made a deposit only counts after you are vested in the retirement system.

Q. How many years of continuous FERS service do I need with the federal government to be eligible for a retirement benefit? A. It depends on your age. As a FERS employee, you can retire at your minimum retirement age with 30 years of service, 60 with 20 or 62 with 5. (MRAs range from 55 to 57, depending on your birth year.) You can also retire at your MRA with as few as 10 years of service; however, your annuity would be reduced by 5 percent for every year (5/12ths of 1 percent per month) that you were under…

Q. My husband retired under CSRS in 2015 and had his annuity reduced to provide a survivor benefit for me. He was 59 when he died in 2018. Along the way he had paid into Social Security for enough years to qualify for a Social Security benefit at age 62. I also am a federal employee, under CSRS and still working. I was told that I’d be eligible to receive some of his Social Security benefits until I retire. Is this true? A. Yes, it is. As long as you are working, you are entitled to a Social Security survivor benefit based…

Q. I am 43 years and have 20 years of federal service. I’m planning to leave for a job in the private sector but won’t ask for a refund of my retirement contributions. When will I be eligible to retire and receive an annuity? A. You can apply for a deferred annuity when you reach your minimum retirement age, which is 60. Just be aware that as a deferred retiree, you won’t be eligible to receive the special retirement supplement or re-enroll in the Federal Employees Health Benefits or Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance programs.

Q. I started at the Transportation Security Administration in May 2018 with a temporary appointment. No retirement deductions were taken from my pay. I was made a permanent employee in October of that year. Can I buy back the temporary time and have it used in the computation of my FERS annuity? A. Unfortunately, no. Nondeduction service performed on or after Jan. 1, 1989, isn’t creditable for either retirement eligibility or computation purposes. Therefore, you can’t make a deposit to get credit for that time.

Q. I’m a FERS employee who is getting ready to retire. I plan to elect a full survivor benefit annuity for my wife. Will it be increased by COLAs or change with age? A. If you elect a full survivor benefit, your basic annuity will be permanently reduced by 10 percent. If you die, your widow will receive a survivor annuity that equals 50 percent of your unreduced annuity; in other words, the annuity you would have received before you made the survivor election. That survivor annuity will be increased by any cost-of-living adjustments that were made to retiree annuities following your…

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