Two weeks ago, I wrote about VERAs and VSIPs, the authorities that allow employees to retire early, receive a buyout or – in some cases – get both. Now I want to write about returning to work for the government.
Going back to work for the government? Am I nuts? I don’t think so. There’s a new administration on the way and, when the dust settles, there will be jobs that need to be filled. One of them could be the one you just left or one like it in another agency.
If you accepted such an offer, what would happen to your annuity? It all depends. In some cases, it will continue, in others it will stop. And, if you meet certain criteria, you’ll be able to receive both your annuity and the salary of the new job.
If you voluntarily retired and go back to work, you’ll continue to receive your annuity; however, the salary of your new position will be offset (reduced) by the amount of your annuity. For example, if your annuity was $40,000 and your new salary was $90,000, you’d only be paid $50,000 ($90,000 – $40,000).
However, if your retirement was involuntary as a result a reduction-in-force (RIF), job abolishment, transfer of function, or reorganization, your annuity would stop and you’d receive the full salary of your new position. In other words, you’d have the same employment status as any other federal employee in an equivalent position with a similar service history.
If you worked on a full-time, continuous basis for at least one year – or its equivalent if you worked part time – you’d usually be entitled to a supplemental annuity. That annuity would be added to your original annuity. However, if you worked for at least five years, you’d usually be entitled to elect a re-determined annuity, which would replace the one you are currently receiving. In either case, you’d need to have retirement deductions taken from your pay or make a deposit for that time when you retire again to be eligible for those additional benefits.
If your annuity stopped when you took the new job, you’d have to meet the age and service requirements to be eligible to retire again. For example, if you were a CSRS employee who took early retirement with 25 years of service at an age below 55, you wouldn’t be eligible to retire again until age 55.
As mentioned above, a few reemployed annuitants would receive both their annuity and the full salary of their new position. Among those who would automatically qualify are those in positions for which there is exceptional difficulty in recruiting or retaining a qualified employee, a direct threat to life or property, or a circumstance that warrants emergency employment. However, there are other less restrictive authorities that allow reemployed annuitants to receive both their annuities and their salaries. If you are a retiree who is being considered for reemployment, be sure to ask if one of the exceptions will apply to you.
If you are lucky enough to land a job that allows you to receive both your annuity and the full salary of your new position, you need to understand that the time you spend in it can’t be used to qualify you for either a supplemental or a re-determined annuity. When you retire again. you’ll just continue to receive the annuity you had all along. Nothing more.