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Federal Benefits Q&A

Question: I was a civilian federal employee from Sep. 4, 2012 to Nov. 1, 2015. I bought back three years of military time during the above time period. I re-entered civilian federal service Jan. 9, 2017. In looking at my LES, I noticed I was paying $107 in retirement as opposed to the $17 I paid in my previous stint. HR is telling me that I am enrolled in FERS-FRAE and am not eligible for my old retirement program. Over 20 years, this is a $40,000 to $60,000 issue. Do I have any options here?"

Question: I was a civilian federal employee from Sep. 4, 2012 to Nov. 1, 2015. I bought back three years of military time during the above time period. I re-entered civilian federal service Jan. 9, 2017. In looking at my LES, I noticed I was paying $107 in retirement as opposed to the $17 I paid in my previous stint. HR is telling me that I am enrolled in FERS-FRAE and am not eligible for my old retirement program. Over 20 years, this is a $40,000 to $60,000 issue. Do I have any options here?"

Answer: Your HR Office is correct. Because you left federal service on Nov. 1, 2015 with less than 5 years of civilian service (you do not count your 3 years of bought-back military service) and re-entered federal service after Dec. 31, 2013 with less than 5 years of previous civilian service, HR was correct in classifying you as a FERS-FRAE employee in which you contribute each paydate 4.4 percent of your salary to the FERS Retirement and Disability Fund.

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