Sorting out past service credit

FCW.com's Ask Milt column responds to questions about where to appeal a buyback charge and getting retirement credit as contractor

A Reader Writes:

Due to an error of the Civilian Personnel Office that put me in the wrong retirement system for 17 years (Civil Service Retirement System vs. CSRS Offset), I had to "buy back" the years of service. The Office of Personnel Management forwarded a letter that told me that they corrected my retirement account and placed me under CSRS Offset. That was seven years ago.

Throughout moves that took me to Europe and back to Washington, D.C., I have asked the Civilian Personnel Office two questions: How much do I owe and who do I pay it to? I finally received a bill in the amount of $16,000.

If the bill had been paid seven years ago, it would have been roughly $3,500. I paid the $16,000, however, and wrote them a letter asking where I should appeal the difference between the $16,000 and the $3,500.

I received no response to that letter, so I sent a second letter. I still haven't had a response.

I would appreciate your advice on how to tackle this.

Milt Replies:

You can write your congressman. That often helps.

When you write an appeal to OPM, you have to contact the appropriate office. Here are the regional addresses:

For Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and most of Virginia:

OPM Atlanta Oversight Division 75 Spring Street, SW., Suite 1018 Atlanta, GA 30303-3109 (404) 331-3451

For Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin:

OPM Chicago Oversight Division 230 S. Dearborn Street, DPN 30-6 Chicago, IL 60604-1687 (312) 353-0387

For Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Wyoming:

OPM Dallas Oversight Division 1100 Commerce Street, Room 4C22 Dallas, TX 75242-9968 (214) 767-0561

For Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, most of Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands:

OPM Philadelphia Oversight Division 600 Arch Street, Room 3400 Philadelphia, PA 19106-1596 (215) 861-3102

For Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and the Pacific Ocean area:

OPM San Francisco Oversight Division 120 Howard Street, Room 760 San Francisco, CA 94105-0001 (415) 281-7050

For the Washington, D.C., area and any overseas area not included above. (In Maryland, the counties of Charles, Montgomery and Prince George's. In Virginia, the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, King George, Loudoun, Prince William and Stafford and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas, and Manassas Park).

OPM Washington, D.C. Oversight Division 1900 E Street, NW., Room 7675 Washington, DC 20415-6000 (202) 606-2990

A Reader Writes:

I have worked at the same job and location for 12 years. The first 12 years, I was a contractor and had no break in service during the 12 or when transferring to the company.

Can I ask for the 12 years of credit toward my retirement package from my present employer? In essence I have been working for them for the entire period.

Milt Replies:

You can ask your present employer for credit for the 12 years, but you can't argue that you're entitled to credit while you were an independent contractor.

Zall is a retired federal employee who since 1987 has written the Bureaucratus column for Federal Computer Week. He can be reached at milt.zall@verizon.net.

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