Q: My friend who works for the Veterans Administration was recently subpoenaed to testify for the prosecution in a federal case. She had to take three days off from work and fly from the West Coast to the east. She’s being told that she has to use annual leave for this event, and there is no pay for this as in jury duty. Is this correct? A: Your friend is entitled to court leave if she was summoned as a witness in a judicial proceeding in which the federal, state, or local government is a party. Whether that fits her…

Q: I am a U.S. Postal Service employee and I will be retiring Dec. 31, under the early out option. The related annuity estimate I received as part of that offer lists the annuitant monthly premium for basic Federal Employee Group Life Insurance as $116.37. But the reference manual says I will pay “the same regular Basic premium that active employees pay,” which for postal employees is zero. There is also a chart included that says the premium would be $0.3358 for $1,000 coverage (for me, that’s about $5,4000, calculating out to about $17/month). So which of these premiums is…

Q: I am a letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service with 28 years of service. Is money taken out of my overtime pay for retirement contribution? My retirement is based strictly on my high-three taken from straight time hours only, and does not take overtime hours into consideration. Trying to figure out the taxes and other withdrawals from my check is over my head, but it seems like I don’t pay any less in withdrawals in my overtime hours than I do when I only work straight time. If so, where does the money go? Am I contributing toward…

Q: I have 23 (22 continuous) years federal service under the Federal Employees Retirement System. I am currently age 47. Should I be involuntarily separated, will I be penalized 5 percent a year for each year I am under 56 (my minimum retirement age as I was born in 1961)? Am I entitled to health benefits, as well as my annuity commencing on the day of involuntary separation? A: Based on your age and service, you wouldn’t be eligible to retire. So, unless you later returned to government service, your only option would be to apply for a deferred annuity…

Q: I will turn 70½ in 2009. I’m under the impression I have to start withdrawals from my Thrift Savings Plan in 2009, but I was recently told by a friend that TSP changed the required withdrawal date, and I do not have to start required distributions until age 72. I cannot find this information on the TSP Web site. Can you tell me if this is true? A: I know of no such change. If you are retired, your first required minimum distribution must be calculated for 2009, but you don’t have to take it until April 2010. You…

Q: I will be 55 in January and eligible to retire under the Civil Service Retirement System with 36 years of service. What would be the best day to retire if I stay until March or April at the latest? I’ve always heard about the third of the month. How will the date affect my annuity? A: As a CSRS employee, you can retire up to the third of any month and be on the annuity roll in that month. Each day you delay retiring after the last day of the preceding month will reduce that month’s annuity payment by…

Q: What’s the law concerning when a spouse can be added to a health insurance plan before or after retirement? I have had continuous federal health coverage for more than five years. I will be retiring in the next few years, and my wife just landed a federal job. I have been carrying her on my policy, but we may get two separate health plans because it is cheaper. However, she does not know if she will continue to work for the feds toward her retirement or go back into the private sector. Either way, can I add her to…

Q: Is it possible to go from full-time employment to part time for a few years and then retire (from that part-time position)? If so, are there problems for my full-time Federal Employees Retirement System retirement benefits? Otherwise, I guess I do what everyone else does: retire and take a part-time job. However, I like my agency and the work I’m doing. A: Yes, you can retire from a part-time position; however, under current law, going part-time would significantly impact the amount of your annuity when you retire. — Reg Jones

Q: I received a packet from the Office of Personnel Management on April 6, 2006. They informed me I was eligible for relief under the Federal Erroneous Retirement Coverage Correction Act. I transferred from the Army as a GS-7 to the U.S. Postal Service. Do you know anyone at the Office of Personnel Management I can contact about the getting USPS to make the settlement; they seem to be dragging their feet in this matter? I had planned to retire in December, but I do want this matter settled before do. A: I can’t give you a name but I…

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