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 retiring with four months of sick leave, bringing my total time in FERS to 32 years, 1 month at age 65. In the interest of increasing final annuity, I have been using annual leave, rather than sick leave, for medical appointments and when ill. In retrospect, it seems I did not accomplish much, and that using sick leave as intended and preserving annual leave to increase lump sum payout might have been a better strategy. Correct? A. Maybe, maybe not. There are too many variables. While unused annual leave will be paid out at the hourly rate you…

Q. I’m a firefighter under the special retirement plan. I’m at 20 years of civilian service but 44 years old. I meet the minimum service time, but not the age. Can I leave the civil service now? If I do, when would I receive my annuity? A. If you leave before being eligible to retire on an immediate annuity, you could apply for a deferred annuity when you reach your minimum retirement age, which is 57. That annuity would be based on your high-3 as a firefighter on the day you left. Note: You wouldn’t be able to reenroll in…

Q. I am a 46-year-old employee covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System. I have been enrolled in the FEHB for the last six years. If I resign from the government and apply for a deferred annuity at age 62, will I be able to reenroll in the FEHB when I collect my annuity? A. No, you won’t be able to do that. Deferred annuitants aren’t eligible to reenroll in the Federal Employees Health Benefits program.

Q. What are the chances of the windfall elimination provision being eliminated? A. Not very good. Here’s why: Before the law was changed in 1983, employees who worked in jobs not covered by Social Security had their benefits computed as if they were long-term, low-wage workers. As a result, they received the advantage of a higher percentage of Social Security benefits plus their other annuity. The modified formula used to compute the benefits of those who have fewer than 30 years of substantial earnings under Social Security eliminated this windfall.

Q. I was 56 years old with 33 years total government service and retired regular FERS then applied for Social Security Disability Insurance and was approved with back pay after the first 6 months of my retirement date. I only got $685 of my special retirement supplement because several of those years was active duty, which I repaid within the first 36 months of my career at the U.S. Postal Service. Now I am wondering what will happen to my annuity when I turn 62 and my SRS is eliminated. A. At age 62, your special retirement supplement will end;…

Q. I’m a FERS employee. I understand that when I retire I will have two survivor annuity options, either 50 percent or 25 percent of my full annuity. What does “full annuity” mean? Does it mean that my wife will get 50 percent of what my annuity would be before the 10 percent reduction to pay for it, or will she get 50 percent after the 10 percent is taken out to pay for the full survivor annuity? A. If you die, she would get 50 percent of what your annuity would have been if your annuity hadn’t been reduced…

Q. I’m a FERS employee who is thinking of retiring and wondering if there is anything that precludes me from retiring one day and coming back to work as a federal employee the next? A. If you met the age and service requirements to retire on an immediate annuity, your annuity would continue; however, the salary of your new position would be offset by the amount of that annuity. Further, any lump-sum payment for unused annual leave you received would have to be returned to your former agency. Note: If you received a buyout payment, that money would also have…

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