The following are questions submitted by Federal Times readers about retirement and other issues facing the federal workforce. They are answered by Reg Jones, a charter member of the senior executive service and a Federal Times columnist since 1995.
Question: I plan on retiring in December. I current receive an annuity as I retired from the federal government 25 years ago. I went back to work for the federal government in 2005 and have continued receiving my annuity and it is reducing my salary dollar for dollar. When I retire the end of December 2022 my annuity will be redetermined using my high three years. Will the COLA be applied to this in January 2023 as I have never stopped receiving an annuity?
Reg Answers: Yes, you will receive the annual cost-of-living adjustment in your January annuity payment. However, because you are retiring at the end of December, that January 1 COLA will be applied to your current annuity not the annuity you will be receiving after it is redetermined.
How do I calculate my Service Computation Date?
Question: Is there a form or worksheet one can use to calculate the Service Computation Date for retirement if I use the dates on my SF-50? Thank you in advance for having an excellent information tool for federal employees.
Reg Answers: For most employees, the Service Computation Date (Leave) located on line 31 of their Standard Form 50 will be the same as their service computation date. However, if you have periods of creditable service, e.g., active duty service, the SCD won’t tell you your total length of service. To find that out, you’ll need to check with your servicing personnel office. They can review your Official Personnel Folder (OPF), identify all periods of creditable service, and provide you with an accurate SCD. Be aware that there may be some periods of service for which a deposit would need to be made to get credit for that time.
Am I entitled to the FERS Annuity Supplement?
Question: I retired under a VERA in July 2021 with 30 years and 1 month of service at age 55 and 3 months (YOB was 1966). As I understand, I should be entitled to the FERS Annuity Supplement at my MRA, which is 56 yrs. 4 months - in my case that would be 08/04/22. My question is: when should I receive my first FERS Annuity Supplement payment if it is/were paid timely? I have contacted OPM by phone, but the customer service representative was unfortunately not knowledgeable regarding this question for my particular circumstance. I appreciate any information you can provide.
Reg Answers: You would be eligible for the FERS annuity supplement at the beginning of the first full month after you reach your MRA. In your case that would be September 1, 2022. However, when you actually receive it will depend on both processing times at OPM and the Department of the Treasury’s payment schedule. If it isn’t included in your September annuity payment, it will be included in a later one and be retroactive to the date on which it was first due.
Can I get credit for LEO service?
Question: I served for 10.3 years in a federal LEO position then transferred to a non-LEO position within a different agency. I now have 35 years of service and am retiring. Will I still receive the LEO retirement for my 10.3 years of service that were withheld at a higher rate for retirement. If not, what regulation prevents that and why would I not get back at least the amount of additional retirement that was withheld during that time period?
Reg Answers: No, you will not receive LEO retirement benefits for your 10.3 years of LEO service. Only those law enforcement officers who meet the age and service requirements to retire as an LEO are entitled to that enhanced benefit. Further, you will not be entitled to a refund of your excess contributions to the retirement fund. As a rule, laws and regulations only specify what an employee is entitled to, not what they aren’t. There is no provision in either of them that would entitle you to a refund.
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Reg Jones is the resident expert on retirement and the federal government at Federal Times. From 1979 until 1995, he served as an assistant director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management handling recruiting and examining, white and blue collar pay, retirement, insurance and other issues. From 1977 to 1979, he was deputy director of the Bureau of Policies and Standards in the U.S. Civil Service Commission. The opinions expressed are his own.