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 resigned at 56 under FERS after 16 years. I plan on deferring annuity until full benefit at 62. Am I correct that if I take benefit between 57 and 61, I am not entitled to COLA? A. Yes. With the exception of law enforcement officers, firefighters and air traffic controllers, the annuities of FERS retirees are not increased by COLAs until age 62.

Q. At the end of my enlistment I will have 15 years active-duty service. Let’s say I switched to reserve component, landed a federal job under FERS, and made the deposit for my 15 years of active service. Would I still be eligible to retire from the reserves after five years (20 years total service)? Or will the deposit from active-duty time toward FERS render those years/points gone, in which case I’d still have to do 20 in the reserves? A. Making a deposit to get credit for your active-duty service would have no affect on your entitlement to reserve…

Q. I am currently under FERS with 20.5 years of service and am age 55. My MRA age is 56. Can I apply for the deferred retirement to age 62 before I resign? I realize I will not be eligible for the health and life insurance. A. No, you can’t. You can only resign from the government and later apply for a deferred retirement when you are eligible for that benefit, which would be age 60.

Q. What happens to bills for medical services previously sent to Blue Cross/Blue Shield that come in after I switch to Tricare for Life? A. Blue Cross/Blue Shield will continue to be the primary payer and Tricare for Life the secondary payer unless you suspend your BC/BS coverage. If you do, TFL will be the sole payer.

Q. What is the best date to retire? A. There is no best date to retire. However, here is some information may help you to make a decision: The last pay period in 2019 ends on Sat., Dec. 21. The last pay period in 2020 ends on Sat., Jan. 4. CSRS employees can retire up to the third day of any month and be on the annuity roll in that month. FERS employees must retire no later than the last day of a month to be on the annuity roll in the following month. Anyone retiring on a date other…

Q. If I marry before I retire, will my new wife be entitled to my pension if we divorce? if so, can a prenuptial agreement protect my interest, or does the government override? A. If you marry while an employee, you are required by law to provide a survivor annuity for your spouse. If you marry after you retire, whether or not you provide a survivor annuity is up to you.

Q. I’m in the MRA+10 category. If I leave government and apply for a postponed annuity, when can I enroll in FEHB? And, if so, would it be only after receiving an annuity or only during Open Season? A. When you apply for your postponed annuity, let OPM know that you want to re-enroll in the FEHB program. Then when you annuity begins. so will your FEHB coverage.

Q. I quit the U.S. Postal Service after working 14 years for them. Am I entitled to any sort of pension from the USPS when I turn 62 or 65? A. Yes, if you didn’t ask for a refund of your retirement contributions when you left. Regardless of whether you were covered by CSRS or FERS, you could apply for an annuity at age 62. If you were covered by FERS, you could also apply for an annuity when you reach your minimum retirement age. MRAs range from 55 to 57, depending on your year of birth. However, if you…

Q. I am 46 with 23 years of service. I want to resign, take another career path, and apply for deferred retirement at 60. I want to make sure I handle the paperwork correctly. Will there be any paperwork when I resign to reflect my intent of filling for deferred retirement 14 years later? A. No, there won’t. All you’ll receive is a Standard Form 50 documenting your resignation.

Q. I’m considering resigning later this year at 54 with 14 years civil service (MRA is 56 years 2 months). I have a 20-year military retirement (retired 2004) and am considering paying the military deposit (estimate $20,000 or so). I also get $660 VA disability (40 percent) that equates to an additional $7,920 per year that wouldn’t be taken from a civilian annuity like it currently is from my military retirement. If I resign at 54 on a deferred retirement with 34 years creditable service (20 military plus 14 civilian) and don’t start taking the annuity until 60 (when it…

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