While this is the time of each year when the maximum number of employees retire, it’s also the one where I’m bombarded with questions about going back to work for the government after they’ve retired. If you are one of them, you want to know is how it would affect your annuity.
Here’s the answer: In most cases, it will continue, in a few it will stop. And, rarely, you may be able to receive both your annuity and the salary of your new job.
Note: Phased retirement is not a form of reemployment because the individual does not separate from service.
If you retired voluntarily and go back to work, you’ll continue to receive your annuity; however, the salary of your new position will be reduced by the amount of that annuity. For example, if your annuity was $40,000 and your salary $100,000, you’d only be paid $60,000 ($100,000 – $40,000).
If your retirement was involuntary due to such things as a RIF, job abolishment, transfer of function, reorganization or right-sizing, your annuity would stop and you’d begin receiving the full salary of your new position. As a result, you’d have the same employment status as any other federal employee in an equivalent position with a similar service history.
So, what happens when you want to retire again? If you worked on a full-time, continuous basis for at least one year – or its equivalent if you worked part time – you’ll usually be entitled to a supplemental annuity. That annuity will be added to your original annuity.
On the other hand, if you worked for at least five years or equivalent, you’d usually be entitled to a re-determined annuity, which would replace the one you are currently receiving. In either case, you’d have to contribute to the retirement fund, either while employed or before you retire again, to be eligible for those additional benefits.
Note: 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.
Annuity and Salary
In rare cases, you would be able to receive both your annuity and a full salary. Originally, this exception related solely to positions for which there was exceptional difficulty in recruiting or retaining a qualified employee, a direct threat to life or property, or a circumstance that warranted emergency employment.
However, over the years several other authorities have built up this same benefit to other reemployed annuitants. There is a government-wide authority called “limited time appointments,” and there are agency-specific policies, mostly at DoD. So, if you are a retiree who is being considered for reemployment, be sure to ask if one of the exceptions applies to you.
Federal retirees have the right to apply for a government job and return to full-time employment status as a reemployed annuitant. However, should you find such a job and successfully apply for it, there will be major changes in the way your current annuity check is handled.
More on Reemployed Annuitants Under CSRS and FERS at ask.FEDweek.com