Expert's View

Reg Jones

I may be preaching to a rapidly diminishing body of readers: Those covered by the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). However, it’s important that I do so because they can get burned financially if they aren’t aware of Catch-62.

If you were first employed by the federal government on or after October 1, 1982, the only way you can get credit for any active duty military service (that occurred after 1956) is to make a deposit to the civilian retirement system. So, if you are retired, become eligible for a Social Security benefit at age 62, and didn’t make a deposit to get credit for that time, your annuity will be reduced. If you retire after reaching age 62, the reduction will take place when you retire.

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On the other hand, if you won’t be eligible for a Social Security benefit at age 62 (or when you retire if later than age 62), Catch-62 won’t apply. Therefore, you won’t have to make a deposit and your annuity won’t be penalized.

If you haven’t made a deposit and want to do so, you’ll need to find out how much you owe. To do that, fill out Form RI 20-97, Estimated Earnings During Military Service, and mail it to the finance center for your branch of service along with a copy of your DD-214, Report of Transfer and Discharge (or its equivalent).

When the response comes back, attach a copy of your DD-214 (or its equivalent) and a completed Application to Make Deposit or Redeposit (Standard Form 2803 (CSRS)) or 3108 (FERS)), and take it to your local payroll office. They’ll figure out how much you owe and tell you how to go about making the deposit. The RI and Standard Form are available at www.opm.gov/forms.

Note: If you are receiving or eligible for reserve retired pay, you’ll only have to make a deposit for any periods of active duty service to get credit for that time. However, if you are either receiving or are eligible for military retired pay, you’ll not only have to make a deposit to get credit for that time but, in most cases, you’ll have to waive the receipt of that pay when you retire from your civilian job. The only exception is if you were awarded that pay because of a service-connected disability either incurred in combat with an enemy of the United States or caused by an instrumentality of war and incurred in the line of duty during a period of war.

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