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I screwed up
Old 12-06-2013, 11:02 AM   #1
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I screwed up

In May I became eligible to resign from my Federal job with 20 years of service at age 56. I am under the FERS system. I plan to postpone my pension and health care until I am 60 to avoid a reduction in my pension.

I have been in a same sex relationship for close to 26 years. When I resigned a decision by the Supreme Court to repeal DOMA had not been made. The repeal allows same sex marriages survivor benefits for the pension and health coverage for Federal employees.

My partner and I were not married when I retired. After DOMA was repealed my partner and I drove up to Washington state and married.

I had read over the OPM website numerous times and I had spoken to HR before retiring and laid out my situation. Early this morning I was again looking at the OPM website. I discovered that I needed to be married to my spouse before retiring in order for the spouse to receive survivor benefits in the event that I die before I begin collecting the pension. I guess I skipped over that information in the past because same sex marriage was not recognized at the federal level. I am really bummed.

The issue is that if I die before my pension begins, my spouse will have no access to my pension or health care insurance. I have emailed OPM to ask for clarification, but it will take 30 - 40 days to receive a response. In the meantime, I have come up with two workarounds:

1. I could file the paper work to begin collecting my pension now and add my spouse for survivor benefits. This would result in a 5% reduction for every year I am under the age of 62 - almost 30%. Then there will also be the reduction for the survivor benefits.

2. I could apply for life insurance through a private company and carry it for 4 years, then start the pension at age 60 as planned. I am in good health except for a brain aneurysm that I had treated in 2002 and possibly high cholesterol. Maybe they would exclude coverage for any aneurysm related death?

I am really kicking myself for retiring before the decision on DOMA and for not reading the details for married couples more carefully. I did all this planning then botched up a really important part of it.

Does anyone have any ideas on anything else I could do at this point?

-helen
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Old 12-06-2013, 11:09 AM   #2
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Can you find a new federal job, work it for a short while and then resign? At that point you will have been married when you resign.

Otherwise, why don't you apply for life insurance as if you will go with 2 above and see whether you get accepted and what rates are offered to you. You can always decline coverage once you are accepted.
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Old 12-06-2013, 11:09 AM   #3
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No, and I understand your distress. But no reason to kick yourself; we can never foresee everything, never be perfect. Just keep you eyes and ears open, something helpful may turn up.

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Old 12-06-2013, 11:14 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by pb4uski View Post
Can you find a new federal job, work it for a short while and then resign? At that point you will have been married when you resign.

Otherwise, why don't you apply for life insurance as if you will go with 2 above and see whether you get accepted and what rates are offered to you. You can always decline coverage once you are accepted.
That's exactly what I was thinking also ! I would stink to have to go back to w*rk but it would definitely be more than worth it financially for your family.
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Old 12-06-2013, 11:25 AM   #5
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That's exactly what I was thinking also ! I would stink to have to go back to w*rk but it would definitely be more than worth it financially for your family.
If I worked in the D.C. area I would have a shot at finding a Federal job, but around here there are not many to be had. Right after I retired there was a huge investigation into hiring practices at the agency where I worked. From what I understand they are not able to hire anyone at this point and going forward it will be just about impossible to get in without having military experience.

We are not on a tight budget, but I would love to have the peace of mind to know that my partner would have access to my health care, should something happen to me before I begin drawing the pension.

I will look into life insurance while waiting to hear back from OPM.

Thank you for the kind words, Ha.
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Old 12-06-2013, 11:27 AM   #6
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Could you take a DC area job with a short term housing rental (or stay with a friend in the area) and then resign after you had served the requisite time to solidify benefit for your spouse?
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Old 12-06-2013, 11:32 AM   #7
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Could you take a DC area job with a short term housing rental (or stay with a friend in the area) and then resign after you had served the requisite time to solidify benefit for your spouse?
I could relocate for a short time. Thank you for the idea. I will look at job listings.
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Old 12-06-2013, 11:34 AM   #8
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Look around for Term Appointments. Those carry benefits, but are for a short duration. http://www.fedjobs.com/lib/TIP_Job_A...nts_Part2.html
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Old 12-06-2013, 11:35 AM   #9
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Sorry to hear about the challenges you're having with the pension, but congratulations on the wedding!
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Old 12-06-2013, 11:37 AM   #10
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Bummer. Just as you return from your honeymoon! There is no point in crying over spilt milk or second guessing yourself. You did what you thought was the best thing with the information available. It's difficult when the rules keep changing.

Of the available solutions, I like the idea of a temporary move to DC to work, assuming that option is available, and that you could limit your time back in the workforce. If it is only a few months, it could be made into a fun experience and your spouse could come and visit.
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Old 12-06-2013, 11:42 AM   #11
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Can you apply for a waiver? I would think your 26 years together would be considered a common law marriage under current standards. Maybe worth talking to an attorney?
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Old 12-06-2013, 11:55 AM   #12
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Can you apply for a waiver? I would think your 26 years together would be considered a common law marriage under current standards. Maybe worth talking to an attorney?
I had not thought about a waiver. I am thinking that there are not many people in this situation, maybe it is possible.

I know for people who are already retired and are in gay marriages they have 2 years from last July to notify OPM that they are married and want to have survivorship rights. I have not read anything about people who are postponing the pension. It would be nice if OPM would hand me a solution but I am doubtful.

Before DOMA was repealed, there was no point in our getting married. My state doesn't yet allow it and it wasn't recognized at the federal level. I was afraid it would actually cause problems down the road. For example, if we wanted to divorce, one of us would have to move to a state that recognizes same sex marriages and become a resident before a divorce could be granted. It's a mess.
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Old 12-06-2013, 11:59 AM   #13
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Could you take a fed job anywhere in the country for 1 day, then resign? It's a shitty thing to do, but hey, you got screwed by the rules.
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Old 12-06-2013, 01:17 PM   #14
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Congratulations on the wedding !
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Old 12-06-2013, 03:38 PM   #15
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You have said both that you resigned and that you retired. Which was it? They're not the same thing, and they each have different ramifications.
I am a fed employee.
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Old 12-06-2013, 03:41 PM   #16
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Don't kick yourself for not waiting on the Supreme Court - it was certainly not a foregone conclusion they were going to rule that way and even if they did, how quickly the federal government moved on the benefits side surprised a lot of people.

How about a temporary IRS job working at a tax center - there are several around the country. My guess is they will be posting these openings over the next month or so.

Good luck!
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Old 12-06-2013, 03:46 PM   #17
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You have said both that you resigned and that you retired. Which was it? They're not the same thing, and they each have different ramifications.
I am a fed employee.
I resigned. I qualify for a reduced pension (MRA +20) but was planning on postponing the pension until I am 60. At the point I begin collecting the pension I will be considered a retired federal employee.
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Old 12-06-2013, 03:47 PM   #18
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Don't kick yourself for not waiting on the Supreme Court - it was certainly not a foregone conclusion they were going to rule that way and even if they did, how quickly the federal government moved on the benefits side surprised a lot of people.

How about a temporary IRS job working at a tax center - there are several around the country. My guess is they will be posting these openings over the next month or so.

Good luck!
Thank you, I would probably enjoy that type of work too. I will look into this as well. And, thank you for the kind words.
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Old 12-06-2013, 04:50 PM   #19
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I know nothing about federal employment. But, if it was me, I would be checking to see whether going to work now would help. That is, is there a possibility that they would say it had to be before you resigned the first time?
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Old 12-06-2013, 06:37 PM   #20
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If I worked in the D.C. area I would have a shot at finding a Federal job,.............
Many Federal agencies have telecommute mandates. I have several family members that are Federal employees and I hear about lots of telecommute (e.g. work from home) opportunities. Look for any agencies that have need for your skills and see if telecommute is an option.
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