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Looking for info on FERS early retirement
Old 02-21-2008, 08:21 AM   #1
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Looking for info on FERS early retirement

I know there are a lot of current and former federal workers here, so maybe someone can help me. I am a civil servant under the FERS retirement system. Iím looking for a pamphlet or good source of information concerning early retirement for those under FERS. Iíll have 25 years in in about a year and a half. I know that to even be eligible for ER, my agency needs to offer it, which may or may not happen, but I want to do some research. Iím trying to find out what my benefits would be and the various options I have. Iíve found piecemeal information on the web, but want to find one reliable source where I can find out how my benefits would be computed. Does anyone know where I can find this?
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Old 02-21-2008, 09:35 AM   #2
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David, I don't know of a pamphlet specifically focused on ER, though you could do a search on opm.gov . I doubt you would find anything specific to only ER concerns.

Have you taken any of the pre-retirement seminars or training that your agency is required to offer you once you are within 10 years of retirement? The FERS pre-retirement seminar offered by the Department of Agriculture to other agencies is especially helpful and covers all aspects of retirement, including ER concerns. You get excellent course materials when you take it, including a lengthy spiral bound text that used to be downloadable online in pdf (though I just looked and can't find it there, fooey!). I have taken various day long pre-retirement courses at least 5 times, and each time I learn something.
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Old 02-21-2008, 10:00 AM   #3
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Definitely go to a seminar, and read all the materials.

It was at a pre-retirement seminar that I learned my pension would be big enough to live on if I took an early retirement offer.
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Old 02-21-2008, 02:33 PM   #4
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Hi David,

I am FERS retiring early (although I have a ways to go yet). Try these resources:

OPM-Retirement Services
FederalSoup.com - Federal Employees Discussion Board - powered by Infopop - registration is free. The forum called Federal Employee Benefits Q&A frequently answers questions about early retirement. Be careful to verify the guy's answers though, every once in a while he gets it slightly wrong.
FedSmith.com - For the Informed Fed -the retirement articles sometimes touch on RE.
National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association - this one has a small membership fee, and I don't belong, but they have information about for active and retired feds.

I have researched the various levels of retiring (30 years in at 52, waiting until my MRA (which is 56 years and 10 months), leaving between 20 and 30 years, etc (I have almost 17 years in so far).

If you have specific questions that you don't find answers to, either post them here, or PM me and I will try to help.

Karen
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Old 02-24-2008, 05:53 PM   #5
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I know one bad deal about FERS is that you get NO cola's until age 62 even under regular retirement --

If you went out at 48 with 30 years of service and they were offering a Voluntary early retirement authority (VERA) which keeps you from taking a penalty and is only offered when an agency downsizes or something similar.....

You'd get 30% (1% for each year) of your high three salary.

So let's say your high three was $80k --

you'd get $24k

But no cola's for 14 years which could cut the value of your $24k to around 16k ?? (at 3 % inflation i am guessing on this)

I think it a strong possiblility that your FEHB (federal employee health benefits) plan premiums would possibly have risen to consume half your pension by then.

It is like the power of compound interest in reverse -- so just be aware before you give up your position.

That is why they call them "Golden Handcuffs"
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Old 02-24-2008, 06:20 PM   #6
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I took an early out at age 54. When I reached my MRA (Minimum Retirement Age) of 55.5, a supplement was added to my pension (a SSA replacement) which goes away when I reach 62.
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Old 02-25-2008, 08:13 AM   #7
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I took an early out at age 54. When I reached my MRA (Minimum Retirement Age) of 55.5, a supplement was added to my pension (a SSA replacement) which goes away when I reach 62.
FedWeek puts out an excellent series of easy to read, inexpensive books annually for federal employees. see FEDweek-- Putting Federal Employees and Retirees First and look for publications.

these of course cannot replace your personnel specialist. but read one of these books and you will be a better question asker. make an appt and go from there.

OPM has some good guides too. see US Office of Personnel Management and search on "FERS"

i was a federal employee also, but i did a voluntary separation short of my early out eligibility age of 50. i was 48 and had bad carpal tunnel and RSI since 1994 and numbness was starting in my neck. it was health decision. my employer didn't believe me and blocked all efforts for a disability retirement. not a new story.

i have a deferred retirement waiting for me at age 56, using MRA+10 rules. i do not recommend this path, it just worked for me. i converted my TSP into a fixed monthly annuity for life and have never regretted that.

good luck!
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Old 02-25-2008, 08:26 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by David1961 View Post
I know there are a lot of current and former federal workers here, so maybe someone can help me. I am a civil servant under the FERS retirement system. I’m looking for a pamphlet or good source of information concerning early retirement for those under FERS. I’ll have 25 years in in about a year and a half. I know that to even be eligible for ER, my agency needs to offer it, which may or may not happen, but I want to do some research. I’m trying to find out what my benefits would be and the various options I have. I’ve found piecemeal information on the web, but want to find one reliable source where I can find out how my benefits would be computed. Does anyone know where I can find this?
the BEST site actually has an excellent federal specific benefits calculator. it's a govt only site and i'll be darned if i can remember the link. anyone here still employed by uncle sam got the link?

Also, Tammy Flanagan of Government Executive magazine write unbelievable articles specifically about federal retirement. they come out every friday. i still read them. see Home -- www.GovernmentExecutive.com and sign up for free, and select e-newsletters for tammy f's articles (retirement planning). you will get some extra mail from govexec, but delete away.
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Old 02-25-2008, 09:22 AM   #9
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I took an early out at age 54. When I reached my MRA (Minimum Retirement Age) of 55.5, a supplement was added to my pension (a SSA replacement) which goes away when I reach 62.
Khan
did you work at WP? i think you can figure out where i worked by my 42N latitude in NYS location.
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Old 02-25-2008, 09:55 AM   #10
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Khan
did you work at WP? i think you can figure out where i worked by my 42N latitude in NYS location.
Yes.

Actually, no. Somewhere near Kingston?
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Info on Fers Early Retirement
Old 02-25-2008, 10:34 AM   #11
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Info on Fers Early Retirement

I have accepted an early out and will be retiring in early summer. I am planning a second career as a solo lawyer doing estate planning.

For an estimate of your retirement benefits go to your employee personal page (that website maintained by D of Agriculture), click on personal benefits, scroll to Fers, and click on Estimated Monthly Retirement Annuities. That will give you the annuity amount at your earliest regular retirement date. I am told that you receive essentially that amount if you accept an early out (VERA) retirement.

The best single source of hard information I have found is the Federal Employees Almanac, published annually by Federal Employees News Digest. It's about $16 and is very complete. You can use google to locate it and can order it on the web.

Good luck! I have been plotting my escape for about five years now, waiting for the early out offer to come along.
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Old 02-25-2008, 11:20 AM   #12
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I have accepted an early out and will be retiring in early summer. I am planning a second career as a solo lawyer doing estate planning.

For an estimate of your retirement benefits go to your employee personal page (that website maintained by D of Agriculture), click on personal benefits, scroll to Fers, and click on Estimated Monthly Retirement Annuities. That will give you the annuity amount at your earliest regular retirement date. I am told that you receive essentially that amount if you accept an early out (VERA) retirement.

The best single source of hard information I have found is the Federal Employees Almanac, published annually by Federal Employees News Digest. It's about $16 and is very complete. You can use google to locate it and can order it on the web.

Good luck! I have been plotting my escape for about five years now, waiting for the early out offer to come along.

I could not remember where that site was.

The calculation results are very close to actual.
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Old 02-25-2008, 11:52 AM   #13
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Yes.

Actually, no. Somewhere near Kingston?
good guess. further northwest in NYS.

a hint..."All roads lead to ____"
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Old 02-25-2008, 11:59 AM   #14
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I know one bad deal about FERS is that you get NO cola's until age 62 even under regular retirement --

yes, the lead lining. what a rip. many CSRS folks i worked with did not switch to FERS. they figured anything the govt said was good for you had to be just the opposite.

i was FERS from day one, so no choice.

but i know from my online reading that defined benefit plans (private sector) are going the way of the dodo bird, so i'm still glad for the FERS pension, when it starts up in 7 years for me.
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Old 02-25-2008, 12:05 PM   #15
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I have accepted an early out and will be retiring in early summer. I am planning a second career as a solo lawyer doing estate planning.


Good luck! I have been plotting my escape for about five years now, waiting for the early out offer to come along.
an early congrats to you! and you have your Plan B already mapped out. what a great idea for career no 2. lots of folks need help. i just completed my estate plan. it reminded me of work again, all that paper.

i'm still decompressing and still haven't figured out what i want to be when i grow up (if ever). i know the right thing will come along, just as long as i don't search for it too hard. LOL

i'm young enough to do something else. i still have songs to sing.
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Old 02-25-2008, 12:10 PM   #16
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good guess. further northwest in NYS.

a hint..."All roads lead to ____"
Rome?

I grew up east of there, in the Hudson Valley.
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Old 02-25-2008, 12:13 PM   #17
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Rome?

I grew up east of there, in the Hudson Valley.
BINGO! Give that man (right?) 5 golden stars.

my original stompin grounds are Stony Point, near the Bear Mt bridge on the Hudson River. Moved upstate in 1976 for college and stayed here.

I am going to just crack up if you grew up in Rockland County.
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Old 02-25-2008, 12:14 PM   #18
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I know one bad deal about FERS is that you get NO cola's until age 62 even under regular retirement --

yes, the lead lining. what a rip. many CSRS folks i worked with did not switch to FERS. they figured anything the govt said was good for you had to be just the opposite.
I was one of the few who switched from CSRS to FERS. Made figuring my eligibility and pension an interesting exercise. The on-site person originally got it wrong; the official stuff from OPM was close to what I had worked out. Part of my pension is COLA.
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i was FERS from day one, so no choice.
Quote:

but i know from my online reading that defined benefit plans (private sector) are going the way of the dodo bird, so i'm still glad for the FERS pension, when it starts up in 7 years for me.
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Old 02-25-2008, 12:20 PM   #19
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I was one of the few who switched from CSRS to FERS. Made figuring my eligibility and pension an interesting exercise. The on-site person originally got it wrong; the official stuff from OPM was close to what I had worked out. Part of my pension is COLA.
how did you figure out if was a better deal with FERS? i recall all that was shrouded in utter secrecy unless you were good buds with the personnel folks.

so you have the best of both worlds. good for you.

i know some folks will think i'm nutz for not sticking it out for another 2 years for the early out. but i really wanted to be able to stand and sit normally for the rest of my life. my RSI was threatening that possibility. my employer could have cared less. i really and truly think they thought i was faking. the good news is all is well in the neck and back. just good ol' RSI, and it;s getting better every day. YAY!!!
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Old 02-25-2008, 01:22 PM   #20
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how did you figure out if was a better deal with FERS? i recall all that was shrouded in utter secrecy unless you were good buds with the personnel folks.

so you have the best of both worlds. good for you.
With the matching funds for and portability of TSP, it made sense to me.

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i know some folks will think i'm nutz for not sticking it out for another 2 years for the early out. but i really wanted to be able to stand and sit normally for the rest of my life. my RSI was threatening that possibility. my employer could have cared less. i really and truly think they thought i was faking. the good news is all is well in the neck and back. just good ol' RSI, and it;s getting better every day. YAY!!!
My arthritic knees are much improved since retiring (large building with concrete floors).
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