No credit for being contractor, and more

A Reader Writes

Do you know of any situations where years of service working as a contractor to the federal government can be applied to a Federal Employees Retirement System retirement? I worked for more than five years as a contractor prior to becoming a federal employee and would like to investigate buying that time if possible.

Milt Replies:

Unfortunately, there isn't a way to credit your contractor service toward your government retirement. But you'll get Social Security credit for your contractor service plus credit toward any retirement or 401(k) plan your employer may have had.

A Reader Writes:

I was in the Civil Service Retirement System from 1971-74. I left and then came back to the federal government, serving from November 1984 to the present. I am considered CSRS Offset. Do you have any information on this offset system?

Milt Replies:

The following link goes to a fact sheet from the Office of Personnel Management that can covers a wide range of information for CSRS Offset employees: CSRS Offset Retirement.

A Reader Writes:

I am 55 years old, have 19 years of service as a Department of the Army civilian and am under the FERS. Can I retire at 20 years of service? When can I begin drawing my retirement without a penalty?

Milt Replies:

If you leave federal service and delay receiving benefit payments, unreduced benefits are available at the following age/service combinations:

* At age 62 to those who had at least five years of civilian service and did not take a refund.

* At minimum retirement age (MRA) with 30 years of service or more. MRA is age 55 with 30 years of service gradually increasing until it reaches age 57 for employees born between 1948 and 1970 or later; age 60 with 20 years of service and age 62 with five years of service.

A reduced benefit (at least 5 percent per year) is available at minimum retirement age with 10 years of service or more.

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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