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. My husband wasn’t married at the time of retirement in 1993. When we got married, he didn’t provide a survivor benefit for me. Now we’ve been married for 18 years. If he dies will I be able to get a monthly benefit check? If not, can he do something about that now? A. Unfortunately, it’s too late. To provide you with a survivor annuity, he would have had to agree to a reduction in his annuity to pay for that benefit within two years of the date of your marriage.

Q. I resigned from the U.S. Postal Service 2.5 years ago. At the time I had over 2,500 hours of unused sick leave. My problem with the Post Office was that from day one we were told to bank your sick leave, which I did. I think it is very unfair not to benefit from saving all of those hours, which would have given me an extra boost to my retirement when I apply for it. A. Employees who retire on an immediate annuity will have any hours of unused sick leave included when calculating their annuity. Employees who resign…

Q. I’m a FERS employee who submitted the paperwork to retire. Now I’m having second thoughts. Can I cancel my FERS retirement application? A. Unless your agency has a valid reason for turning you down, it must accept your request to withdraw your retirement application. If it does, it must provide that reason in writing. Valid reasons for turning down your request would include 1) the fact that someone has already been selected to fill your position or 2) your position is being abolished and no other position exists at your pay and/or grade in the local commuting area for…

Q. I’m a CSRS employee with 41 years and 10 months of service. Is there a maximum annuity calculation? Is it based on my high-3 during that final three years or will it include the salaries of any years after that? A. Your high-3 will be based on your highest three consecutive years of basic pay whenever they occur in your career. If you work for 41 years and 10 months, you’ll be entitled to the maximum earned annuity, which is 80 percent of your high-3. While retirement contributions will continue to be taken from your pay, when you retire…

Q. I retired a year-and-a-half ago. When my wife died, I informed OPM and sent them the paperwork needed to eliminate the reduction in my annuity to provide a survivor benefit for her. OPM recomputed my annuity and increased it, but only for the months between when she died and the present. Shouldn’t I have received a payment that was retroactive to the date I retired? A. No. Because the law doesn’t provide for retroactive payments, OPM could only increase your annuity prospectively beginning with the month in which your wife died.

Q. I’ve just received a large civil penalty from a state. Can they garnish my Social Security benefit when I become eligible for that benefit? A. It all depends. Section 407 of the Social Security Act states that “none of the moneys paid or payable under this subchapter shall be subject to execution, levy, attachment, garnishment or other legal process.” However, there are exceptions, such as the collection of delinquent federal taxes or delinquent child support. You should consult an attorney who can determine if your benefit can be garnished.

Q. I was a government employee for several years and didn’t ask for a refund of my retirement contributions when I left. How can I find a record of my employment and if I’m eligible for a deferred annuity? A. Your employment record is stored in the National Personnel Records Center, located in St. Louis, Mo. You’ll find the instructions for getting that information at www.archives.gov/st-louis/civilian-personnel/index.html#. Once you have it, you can complete OPM Form 1496A, Application for Deferred Retirement, available at www.opm.gov/forms/pdf_fill/opm1496a.pdf, and send it to OPM. If you have at least 5 years of creditable service and are at least 62…

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…

1 2 3 847