Discontinued service retirement

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Thanks for all you do in answering these questions for us. Can you explain how a Title 32 technician that loses their federal job because they are separating from the military required position due to turning age 60, affects the FERS annuity supplement requirements. Is losing the military position due to turning 60 considered a voluntary or discontinued service FERS retirement?

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Asked on February 4, 2019 7:39 pm
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To retire voluntarily, you must be age 60 with 20 or more years of service and discontinued service retirement says you must be 50 with 20 or more years of service or any age with 25 years of service, so in either case you need to have the 20 years of service to collect a retirement which also pays the supplement. If you do not have the 20 years of creditable service, your option would be MRA+10, meaning you have reached your MRA and have at least 10 or more years of service. IF you take this retirement, it is age penalized 5% for every year you are under age 62 or you can postpone it until age 62 to avoid the age penalty. This retirement option does not include the supplement. How many years of service will you have at age 60?

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Answered on February 4, 2019 8:01 pm
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I think I asked the question poorly; I’ll try again. When a title 32 military technician turns age 60 and has to retire from the military because of age and looses their title 32 job, is this considered a discontinuance of service retirement under FERS?

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Answered on February 6, 2019 2:24 pm
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The answer to your question can be YES, however, being eligible to collect an annuity depends on how many years of creditable service the individual has when they lose their job and their age. There are numerous retirement options available to all federal employees and unique ones for Military Reserve Technicians. For anyone who loses their federal position for reasons other than misconduct or cause, they can retire if age 50 with 20 or more years of service or at any age with 25 or more years of service. Under this option, they may retire, at say age 50, however, the FERS Retiree Supplement does not kick in until their Minimum Retirement Age (MRA), which is between 56-57, depending on their year of birth. The unique retirement option for Military Reserve Technicians says if involuntary separated from technician service due to disability or any other reason by employing agency, MRTs are entitled to an immediate annuity after attaining age 50 and completing 25 years “federal” of service if first hired before February 10, 1996, OR If first hired on or after February 10, 1996, can retire at age 50 and completing 20 years of “military technician” service or at any age and completing 25 years of “military technician” service. With this unique retirement option, the FERS Retiree Supplement is paid immediately, they do not have to wait until their MRA. If a Military Reserve Technician does not meet the age and service requirements for either regular or MRT retirement options previously discussed and they have at least 10 or more years of creditable service but less than 20 and are age 60, they can retire under the MRA+10 option, which will be reduced by the age penalty and no supplement is paid on the MRA+10 retirement. Sorry for being so long winded but I am trying to cover all options without knowing all the details of your particular situation.

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Answered on February 6, 2019 4:21 pm
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Thanks for the explanation. Where in OPM regulations is the info on: Federal service if first hired before February 10, 1996, OR If first hired on or after February 10, 1996. Many questions about these dates and no one can seem to find where this is written/published.

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Answered on September 11, 2019 1:24 pm
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It is in 5 United States Code 8414 (c)(2) and here is the link to that information: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/5/8414

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Answered on September 11, 2019 10:23 pm
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As with most language in the US code, you have to know what it means. A follow on question: Where is the language that makes/considers bought-back prior military service to be qualified technician service as far as the years of service calculations for the FERS special annuity supplement? I’m told that bought-back military service only applies to the Feb 10 1996 and prior military technicians and not those military technicians hired after Feb 10th 1996 when calculating technician service for the annuity supplement. Is the difference the former are considered technicians (not dual status) and the later are military technicians (dual status)? Is there a difference between military technicians and military technicians (dual status) and is this written in the code?
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Answered on September 16, 2019 4:09 pm

First, as a military reserve technician, you service is dual status. You must retain your military position to retain your civilian position.

As for when can you retire under FERS and begin collecting a pension, the first issue is when were you first hired as a military technician with the federal government, on before or after 02/10/1996?

If you were hired prior to or on 02/10/1996, all time counts towards that 25-year service requirement to retire at age 50 and begin collecting an immediate annuity and supplement.

If hired after 02/10/1996, you must have 25 years as a technician, dual status, to retire at any age or with 20 years as a dual status technician to retire at age 50 and begin collecting an immediate annuity and supplement.

The before and after 02/10/1996 will determine whether it is any federal service or specifically dual status technician time.

Now you have brought up the question of the FERS Retiree Annuity Supplement. That is a totally different benefit and has a totally different set of rules. If you retire under the special provisions of a military reserve technician, you are eligible to collect your FERS Retiree Supplement in addition to your FERS annuity immediately at retirement. The supplement only uses full calendar years of FERS civilian service in calculation. So, any military service served prior to becoming a federal civilian employee does not count in the calculation of the supplement, even if the deposit is satisfied. That active military service would only count towards your FERS annuity. If, however, your active service interrupted your civilian service AND a military service deposit is satisfied, those periods of activation also count as civilian service and will also be used in the computation of the FERS Retiree Supplement. You can find your written answers in Chapter 46, page 55 and Chapter 51 of the CSRS FERS Handbook. Here is that link: https://www.opm.gov/retirement-services/publications-forms/csrsfers-handbook/

If you do not retire as a Military Reserve Technician and just retire as any other FERS retiree, the supplement may or may not be available and if available it may or may not be paid immediately at the time the FERS annuity commences.

( at September 16, 2019 7:27 pm)
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One more question for my understanding: It doesn’t matter when you hired on – any prior military service (bought back or not - discontinued service retirement or not) before one became a technician, doesn’t count towards years of service for the annuity supplement?
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Answered on September 17, 2019 5:33 pm
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No matter what retirement option you retire under, if that retirement option is one that includes the FERS Retiree Annuity Supplement, the service used to calculate the supplement is civilian service under FERS. Since active military service was performed prior to civilian service, it does not meet the definition of creditable civilian service that can be used in the computation of the supplement. Only military service that interrupts civilian service and the deposit for that period of activation has been satisfied will that period of service count in the computation of the supplement.

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Answered on September 17, 2019 6:50 pm
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Thank you again for your patience and your detailed explanations/answers. You have helped all tremendously!!

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Answered on September 18, 2019 12:54 pm

On the subject of Title 32 military technicians, are they considered the same as law enforcement, air traffic controllers and firefighters when it comes to receiving COLAs on the basic FERS retirement annuity before age 62? These other three groups get the COLA before 62, do Title 32 military reserve technicians get the COLA before 62 as well?

( at November 7, 2019 1:29 pm)
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Yes IF they retire as a military reserve technician and not under the regular retirement options. If you look at my second response dated February 6th it explains the unique military technician retirement that not only pays the COLA immediately but the supplement is also paid immediately.

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Answered on November 7, 2019 2:18 pm
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Didn’t see anything about the COLA in either Feb 6 response; however, I do appreciate the detailed responses you give to folks. The reason I ask about the COLA is our HRO office is telling me I won’t be eligible for any COLA until age 62. Could you point me to the specific OPM guidance on this issue so I can share it with my HRO. I figure if I’m eligible for COLAs before 62 I’ll see them after I retire. I’m 57-1/2 now and retire Dec 31 this year.

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Answered on November 7, 2019 2:28 pm
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Sorry, my response stating my previous comments was to explain which retirement option I was referring to. If you reference to your HRO the CSRS FERS Handbook, Chapter 2, page 10 is very clear stating which retirements do and do not pay COLAS at retirement: https://www.opm.gov/retirement-services/publications-forms/csrsfers-handbook/c002.pdf If someone happens to be military reserve technician and retires, the COLA is not payable until age 62 however if the MilTech retires under the special MilTech options, the the COLA is payable.
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Answered on November 7, 2019 7:29 pm

I’m Title 32, involuntary retiring FERS under the involuntary non-retention of military service separation. How do I know if I’m under the special MilTech option?

( at November 7, 2019 8:40 pm)

This is in the handbook on page 10. under eligibility: 3. Employees who retired under the special provisions for law
enforcement officers, firefighters, or air traffic controllers.

Are Military technicians not listed along with these groups because they are not considered part of this group? Technicians are part of this group for the special annuity supplement but are not specifically listed for it as well.

( at November 7, 2019 8:50 pm)
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JC, the answer to your first question will be determined by when you began your dual status technician position. As for your second question, I could not find what you have referenced.
FYI, there is a discontinued service retirement (DSR) available to everyone who loses their job for reasons other than misconduct or cause and these individuals must be age 50 with 20 years of service or any age with 25 years of service. For these individuals, the FERS Retiree Supplement does not commence until they reach their Minimum Retirement Age (MRA) and COLAs are not applied until they reach age 62.
Military Technicians have a unique to them retirement option that states if hired on or after 02/10/1996, they must have 25 years as a TECHNICIAN, dual status, to retire at any age or with 20 years as a dual status technician to retire at age 50 when they are involuntarily separated from the agency. They will begin collecting an immediate annuity and are also eligible for the FERS Retiree Supplement and COLAs immediately.
Chapter 2 CSRS FERS Handbook, page 10 states:
FERS COLA’s do not apply to annuitants who are under age 62 as of December 1, except:
1. Disability annuitants, including military reserve technicians who are medically disqualified for military service or the rank required to hold their positions. However, disability annuitants who are receiving 60 percent of their average salary do not receive COLA’s.
2. Military reserve technicians whose separation from technician service resulted from loss of military membership or rank on account of disability after attaining age 50 and completing 25 years of service.

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Answered on November 8, 2019 7:55 pm
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I hired on in March of 1996. I am 57 years old and retiring on an involuntary separation (non-retained military & non-disability) with 23 years technician only service. It looks like the COLA only applies to military reserve technicians before they turn 62 if they are separated involuntarily due to disability as stated in example 2.
2. Military reserve technicians whose separation from technician service resulted from loss of military membership or rank on account of disability after attaining age 50 and completing 25 years of service.
So If they did not separate due to disability, it seems item 2 doesn’t apply right?
My question is about example 3 in the book:
Are military reserve technicians considered (and just not listed) part of the special group consisting of air traffic controllers, law enforcement and firefighters?
Trying to figure out if example 3 (in the book) applies to military reserve technicians as well.

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Answered on November 12, 2019 2:50 pm
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JC, I can understand your confusion but let’s try this again. Just because someone sits in a position of Military Reserve Technician or Law Enforcement Officer or Fire Fighter or Air Traffic Controller, does not mean that their retirement meets the criteria to collect benefits under that option. In CSRS FERS Handbook, Chapter 2, page 10, it breaks down the exceptions to who is eligible for a COLA prior to the age of 62. Exception #1 states all disability annuitants, including Military Reserve Technicians, after year one of disability. Exception #2 is specifically for Military Reserve Technicians who meet the requirements previously stated, “if hired on or after February 10, 1996, the Military Reserve Technician must be age 50 or older with 25 or more years of technician service.” Exception #3 is for other special provision retirees under Law Enforcement, Fire Fighting, or Air Traffic Controllers. (Not Military Reserve Technicians as they are listed in Exception #2) Exception #4 applies to those collecting survivor benefits. What this means is if you do not meet any of the above exceptions, then you are retiring under a regular retirement option and you are not eligible to collect the COLA until you reach age 62. In your specific case, you are not retiring UNDER the Military Reserve Technician retirement option, even though you are retiring FROM a Military Reserve Technician position because you did not meet the 50/25 requirement. You are retiring under the regular Discontinued Service Retirement eligible to any federal employee who loses their job for reasons other than misconduct or cause and meets the age and service requirement for the DSR. I hope this helps clarify, even if it isn’t what you were hoping to hear.
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Answered on November 12, 2019 3:32 pm
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Thank you for your assistance.
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Answered on November 12, 2019 6:34 pm
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JC, I guess I missed the part where you stated age 57 with 23 years of technician service. Since all your service is as a Mil Tech and you are separated for any reason, you are correct, you are eligible for the FERS Retiree Supplement and COLAs when your annuity commences.

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Answered on November 12, 2019 7:17 pm
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So one last question: Even though my HRO office says I don’t qualify for COLAs until I turn 62, do you think OPM is going to compute this correctly? If not how do I convince OPM that I qualify? There is a COLA coming in 2020 and it would be nice to get it.

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Answered on November 12, 2019 8:52 pm
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The way your agency codes your retirement should trigger the COLA eligibility. However, it depends on when you retire as to when and how much of the COLA you would get this year. If you retired December 31, 2019, you would only get 11/12ths of next year’s COLA as COLAs are effective December 1 and seen on the January retirement checks.

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Answered on November 12, 2019 9:07 pm

Elaine. I must admit, I’m am very confused in reading this forum and how to apply your answers to my specific situation. I am currently a MRT (was hired in 1998) and will be 51 with 22 years technician service when I anticipate being selectively non-retained. My confusion is specific to when does the FERS supplement get applied? Will it be at my MRA or immediately upon retirement with the Annuity?? I don’t understand the classification of being a MRT and the definition of “…or any other reason by employing agency” (Feb 6, 2019 response). Do I fall under the discontinued service (involuntary) retirement? or, Do I fall under the MRT special provision? Thanks for you assistance.

( at November 20, 2019 4:36 pm)

Bee: To your situation specifically, since you were hired after February 10, 1996, in order to retire as a Military Reserve Technician and as such be eligible to a) collect the FERS Retiree Supplement upon retirement and be eligible for COLAs immediately, you must be age 50 with 20 years of technician service or any age with 25 years of technician service and be involuntarily separated from technician service due to disability or any other reason by the employing agency. This means if you had military service prior to becoming a technician, even if the deposit was satisfied, that time is not included in this eligibility requirement. It must have been 20 or 25 years of civilian technician service. If you do not have sufficient civilian service to qualify for the technician retirement option, you would be eligible for a regular discontinued service retirement which becomes available when you lose your job for reasons other than misconduct or cause and are age 50 with 20 years of creditable service or any age with 25 years of creditable service. For this retirement option, all service, including military service prior to becoming a civilian as long as the deposit has been satisfied, is qualifying. Another main difference between a regular discontinued service retirement and the Military Technician retirement is the supplement for a regular DSR is not paid until the retiree reaches their Minimum Retirement Age and COLAs are not paid until the retiree turns age 62. Obviously, there is a huge advantage of retiring as a Military Technician vs a regular Discontinue Service retirement. I understand how this can be confusing, so I certainly hope this makes it clearer….if not, I will try again!

( at November 20, 2019 5:27 pm)

Elaine, Thanks for the quick response. I am a Military Reserve Technician (Title 32/dual status) with 21 years of credible Technician time with an additional “buy-back” of 9 years military (total of 30 years). I will be 51 when I will be selectively non-retained. My HRO is stating I will not be eligible to receive my FERS supplement till I reach MRA (6 years after I am non-retained/retired). In my research, I get conflicting results for a person like me with my age and years of credible technician service service. Some articles say it will be an immediate FERS supplement upon retirement at age 51 and others indicate MRA. Please help. Thanks for you clarification.

( at November 20, 2019 6:53 pm)

Bee: I do not see how I can be anymore clear than my first response to you. There are two ways to retire when non-retained depending on your years of technician service and age, with one being the traditional discontinued service retirement which does not pay the supplement until you reach your MRA and no COLAs until age 62. If you meet the requirements as a military technician retirement, then both the supplement and COLAs are paid immediately.

The following is taken from 5 USC 8414, Early Retirement:
(1) An employee who was hired as a military reserve technician on or before February 10, 1996 (under the provisions of this title in effect before that date), and who is separated from technician service, after becoming 50 years of age and completing 25 years of service, by reason of being separated from the Selected Reserve of the employee’s reserve component or ceasing to hold the military grade specified by the Secretary concerned for the position held by theemployee is entitled to an annuity.
(2) An employee who is initially hired as a military technician (dual status) after February 10, 1996, and who is separated from the Selected Reserve or ceases to hold the military grade specified by the Secretary concerned for the position held by the technician—
(A) after completing 25 years of service as a military technician (dual status), or
(B) after becoming 50 years of age and completing 20 years of service as a military technician (dual status),

is entitled to an annuity.

Your agency should “terminate” you as being non-retained and in the remarks of your final SF-50, it should state “loss of military membership” so OPM can process your retirement under the Military Technician option.

Without having access to your personnel records and not knowing if your HRO is well versed in the different retirement options, I can only respond with the regulations based on the information questioners submit. Again, I hope this helps answer your question

( at November 20, 2019 8:03 pm)

Elaine, Your response does help. It supports my understanding that I, with the numbers I have (over age 50 with 21 years of credible Technician time), is authorized a Military Technician retirement with the FERS Supplement being immediately received and I should not have to wait for my MRA to start the supplement. I will try and convince my HRO of this disparity. I appreciate the guidance for the proper language that should appear on the SF50. Thanks again!

( at November 20, 2019 9:38 pm)
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Elaine, you say “The way your agency codes your retirement should trigger the COLA eligibility.” This was/is my question: What do I do if my agancy (and they’ve told me I’m not eligible until 62) codes it wrong? Who do I contact to cask for help to correct the coding so I do get the COLA?

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Answered on November 20, 2019 4:43 pm

JC, based on the information you have provided, it appears you should be eligible for the COLA as you are being non-retained. The Nature of Action Code is 357, Termination, and in the remarks section of your SF-50 there should be some reference to you having “loss of military membership.” When your paperwork goes to OPM, along with your payroll records, it should trigger the benefits tied to your retirement. Might I suggest you call the Army Benefits Center to see if you can get an estimate of your retirement.

( at November 20, 2019 5:28 pm)
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Great advise Elaine. I’ll keep check my final SF-50 for this code & keep track of that code in case OPM misses it.
Thank you again for your time towards all of us on this forum!!

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Answered on November 20, 2019 5:48 pm