Retirees Return to Government

Wednesday - 5/19/2010, 4:00am EDT

Every year hundreds, maybe thousands, of retired government workers return to the federal fold. Some do it because they are bored, miss the discipline of a work routine, need the money or want to continue to serve.

After the 9/11 attacks, thousands of former feds with special skills came back into government. Many are still working.

Last year, Congress authorized agencies, on a very limited basis, to re-employ annuitants for temporary or part-time assignments. Those workers can collect both their full federal salary and their annuity. Defense has had that authority for some time.

But most re-employed annuitants are subject to a law which prevents them from collecting both their annuity and their full federal pay. So how does it work?

We got the following question from a former fed who is looking to come back into government:

    I am a retired CSRS annuitant and I am thinking about returning to work as a federal employee working for the Department of Defense. I retired originally due to downsizing where I worked (Navy federal position) took a VERA and a VSIP. It has been over five years so I'm okay with VSIP. My question is if I return to work for the government can I return to the CSRS/CSRS-Offset retirement system? I have seen a lot of conflicting information on the web. On the OPM site it looks like I can come back and work five years and then have my top three recalculated when I retire the second time. I would be able to contribute to the federal retirement system as well as the TSP. I also have seen a DoD document that says that I would only be eligible for social security and I would not be able to participate in CSRS or FERS retirement plans. Which is right? " Walt T.

So I did what I do best. Punt! I passed the buck (and the question) to federal benefits expert Ed Zurndorfer. He says:

    "Assuming that you are returning to federal service as a 'rehired annuitant', you will most likely be covered by CSRS and contribute each pay date to the CSRS Retirement and Disability Fund. You may also contribute to the TSP. However, unless your new job has been 'excepted,' your paycheck (minus contributions to CSRS and to the TSP) will be offset by the amount of your CSRS annuity check.

    If you work at least three years (you mentioned that you intended to work for five years) and retire for the second time, and assuming that your 'high-three' average salary is larger than it was when you initially retired, your CSRS annuity will be recomputed using the larger average high-three salary. You will also be adding to your total service time the additional years of service and unused sick leave (each additional year adds 2 percent of your recomputed high-three average per year to your CSRS annuity). Therefore, upon retiring the second time, you will earn a larger CSRS annuity (and perhaps have more money in your TSP account)." E.Z.

G- Man Going To The Dogs

After a long and distinguished career as THE voice of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Neal Schiff is calling it a day. Lots of people know him as the long-time host of four very popular FBI related radio and TV shows. After serving in the Air Force, Schiff realized a life-long dream of becoming a disc jockey. He did it and he was outstanding. Then came into the FBI, at first doing data entry in the Identification Division and the rest, as they say, is history. But this is not the end...

Schiff plans to train as a veterinarian assistant so he can work helping sick dogs, cats, etc., get well. But first the fanatical baseball fan plans an extended visit to Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles where the Brooklyn team has played in recent years.

Good luck to a real pro and a very, very nice guy.

Maximizing Your TSP

This week on Your Turn with Mike Causey, (10 a.m. EDT) we've got a double header. We're talking first with investment guru Allan Roth about how you might be able to achieve that goal. Also, there's a lot happening on Capitol Hill, including discussion of some bills that could affect your pay and benefits. So Randy Erwin of the National Federation of Federal Employees will give us a legislative update.