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Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) Employee Separation from Federal Service (other than retirement)

(1) Retirement Information

FERS Basic Benefit - You are probably aware that while you were employed in the Federal Government, you contributed to the FERS Basic Benefit Plan (and to CSRS if you transferred to FERS) through biweekly payroll deductions.

  • Five or more years of creditable civilian service:
    If you have five or more years of creditable service towards retirement, you have the following options with respect to your retirement benefits:
    • Deferred annuity - You may leave your money in the retirement fund and apply for a deferred annuity once you meet one of the following minimum age and service combinations:
      • Age 62 and 5 years of service (unreduced annuity);
      • Age 60 and 20 years of service (unreduced annuity);
      • *MRA and 30 years of service (unreduced annuity).
      • MRA and 10 years of service. Your annuity will be reduced 5% for each year you are under age 62 when your annuity commences.

        *MRA is your Minimum Retirement Age, 55 to 57, depending upon the year in which you were born. For MRA information go to http://www.opm.gov/retire/pre/fers/eligibility.asp  External Web Site Disclaimer 

        The annuity is calculated under the general retirement formula for FERS Basic Benefit annuity as if you were actually retiring now. This means that in calculating this future retirement benefit, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) will use your salary in today's dollar value.

        If you die before the commencing date of your annuity and no survivor benefit is payable, your retirement contributions, plus interest, are payable in a lump sum to your beneficiary. Any designation of beneficiaries on file will be forwarded to OPM. To update, complete a SF-3102  Adobe PDF icon  External Web Site Disclaimer  and submit it to OPM at the address on the form. Forms can be obtained from (http://www.opm.gov/forms/pdf_fill/sf3102.pdf  Adobe PDF icon  External Web Site Disclaimer). If you do not file a designation of beneficiary, your benefits will be paid in the normal order of precedence (spouse; children; parents;executor of estate; next of kin).
    • Refund of Retirement Deductions - If you are not interested in a deferred annuity, you may instead request a refund of the amount of money you have contributed to the retirement system. This amount will be paid to you with the market rate of interest, that is, the same rate of interest earned by the U.S. Treasury securities purchased by the Retirement Fund.

      Your receipt of the refund will void your right to a deferred annuity unless you are subsequently re-employed in the Federal Government under FERS.  If you receive a refund and are subsequently re-employed in the Federal Government you must repay the refund with interest in order to receive retirement credit for the amount of time on which the refund is based.  Also, you may not be paid the refund if you will be re-employed in the Federal Government within 31 days after your current employment ends.

      If you wish to request a refund, complete a SF-3106  Adobe PDF icon  External Web Site Disclaimer, Application for Refund of Retirement Deductions. Forms can be obtained from http://www.opm.gov/forms/pdf_fill/sf3106.pdf  Adobe PDF icon  External Web Site Disclaimer  .If you request a refund within 30 days of your separation, return the form to the Benefits & Payroll Liaison Branch (BPLB). After 30 days, forward the form to OPM at the address on the form.
  • Less than five years of creditable civilian service:
    If you have less than five years of creditable service towards retirement, you are not vested in your retirement and, therefore, are not eligible for a deferred retirement benefit. Your options include:
    • Leave your money in the retirement fund if you believe you may subsequently return to the Federal Government. You may apply for a refund at any time after separation. Money left in the fund will continue to accrue interest until refunded.
    • Request a refund of the amount of money you have contributed to the retirement system. This amount will be paid to you with the market rate of interest, that is, the same rate of interest earned by the U.S. Treasury securities purchased by the Retirement Fund.

      Your receipt of the refund will void your right to a deferred annuity unless you are subsequently re-employed in the Federal Government under FERS.  If you receive a refund and are subsequently re-employed in the Federal Government you must repay the refund with interest in order to receive retirement credit for the amount of time on which the refund is based.  Also, you may not be paid the refund if you will be re-employed in the Federal Government within 31 days after your current employment ends.

      If you wish to request a refund, complete a SF-3106  Adobe PDF icon  External Web Site Disclaimer.  Forms can be obtained from http://www.opm.gov/forms/pdf_fill/sf3106.pdf  Adobe PDF icon  External Web Site Disclaimer .  If you request a refund within 30 days of your separation, return the form to the Benefits & Payroll Liaison Branch (BPLB). After 30 days, forward the form to OPM at the address on the form.

(2) Social Security/Medicare

While covered by FERS, you paid Social Security taxes and Medicare hospital insurance tax. You earned Social Security and Medicare credits in the same manner and at the same rates as individuals in private industry and, therefore, those credits will be added to any past or future credits earned in private industry to establish credit for Social Security and Medicare benefits. If you qualify, you may begin collecting Social Security benefits at age 62 and Medicare benefits at age 65. You should contact the Social Security Administration External Web Site Disclaimer for further information. (www.ssa.gov External Web Site Disclaimer or 1-800-772-1213)

(3) Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)

If you participated in TSP, you are fully vested in your own contributions, any matching Government contributions, and any earnings on these contributions. In addition, if you have at least 3 years of civilian Federal service, you are vested in the automatic 1% Government contributions, plus earnings.

You have the following withdrawal options with respect to your vested TSP account balance.

  1. You may transfer your account balance to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) or other eligible retirement plan.
  2. You may receive a life annuity. You must have at least $3,500 in your account at the time the annuity is purchased.
  3. You may receive payment of your entire account balance in a lump sum or in a series of monthly payments.
  4. You may receive a partial payment or partial transfer of your account to an IRA or other eligible retirement plan.

You have until February 1st of the year following the year you become age 70 1/2, to choose an option. While your money remains in your TSP account, applicable earnings (or losses) will continue to be posted to your account.

The money in your TSP account has never been taxed, so before electing an option, please refer to the Tax Notice: Important Tax Information About Payments From Your Account  Adobe PDF icon  External Web Site Disclaimer  (which will be provided to you). To request a full withdrawal, complete a TSP-70  Adobe PDF icon  External Web Site Disclaimer . To request a one-time partial withdrawal, complete a TSP-77  Adobe PDF icon  External Web Site Disclaimer . Forward completed forms to the TSP Service Office, no sooner than 30 days after separation. Forms can be obtained from https://www.tsp.gov/forms/formsPubs.shtml External Web Site Disclaimer.

When you die, any contributions remaining in your account are payable in a lump sum to your beneficiary. To update your designation of beneficiary, complete a TSP-3  Adobe PDF icon  External Web Site Disclaimer  and submit it to the TSP Service Office at the address on the form. Forms can be obtained from https://www.tsp.gov/PDF/formspubs/tsp-3.pdf External Web Site Disclaimer .If you do not file a designation of beneficiary, your benefits will be paid in the normal order of precedence (spouse; children; parents;executor of estate; next of kin).

If you have an outstanding TSP loan(s), you’ll have the opportunity to pay it off in full or consider it a taxable distribution in the year you separate.

(4) Notice To Federal Employee About Unemployment Insurance

If you are not going to another job immediately after your employment with NIH, you may be eligible for unemployment insurance from your local Public Employment Service Office. You will receive an SF-8  Adobe PDF icon External Web Site Disclaimer, which provides further information.

(5) Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI)

If you were covered by the FEGLI program, your life insurance coverage will continue for 31 calendar days after your employment ends. There is no cost for you for this coverage. During the 31-day period you may convert your coverage under Basic Life, Option A, Option B, and/or Option C to an individual policy. In addition, if you do not convert Option C, your eligible spouse and/or eligible children may convert Option C to an individual policy. If you convert to any individual policy, you will pay the entire cost of the premium, that is, the government will not contribute to the cost of the premium as it does (for Basic Life) while you are employed.

If covered, you will be provided with a Notice of Conversion Privilege (SF-2819) for further information about converting to an individual policy. You will also be provided with an Agency Certification of Insurance Status (SF-2821). To convert to an individual policy, submit both forms to the Office of FEGLI at the address on the SF-2819.

(6) Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHB)

If you were enrolled in the FEHB program, your health benefits coverage will continue for 31 days after the last day of the pay period in which you separate. If you are confined in a hospital on the 31st day, the benefits under your FEHB plan will continue for up to 60 more days of continuous confinement. This temporary 31-day extension of your health benefits coverage (and 60-day extension if necessary) is without cost to you. The coverage also applies to your family members if they are covered under your health benefits when your employment ends.

You have the following options for continuing your health coverage:

  1. Converting to an individual (non-group) health policy. In order to convert to an individual health benefits policy, you must submit a SF-2810, Notice of Change in Health Benefits Enrollment (which will be provided to you), to your present health benefits carrier within 31 calendar days from the date your employment ends. Further information about converting is on the SF-2810. Contact your health benefits carrier for further information concerning cost and benefits.
    OR
  2. Temporarily continuing your FEHB coverage (Temporary Continuation of Coverage, or TCC) for up to 18 months after your separation, if you meet the eligibility requirements under TCC. You may select any plan in the FEHB program in which to continue your coverage if you are eligible to enroll in the plan. To continue your coverage, you must pay the full amount of the premium (both the employee and Government shares) plus a 2% administrative charge. If you choose to continue your coverage, during the first 31 days you have the free coverage described above. For a copy of the FEHB Guide for TCC enrollments you can go to http://www.opm.gov Adobe PDF icon  External Web Site Disclaimer . Your enrollment charges begin on the 32nd day after the end of the pay period in which your employment ends. If you continue the coverage to the end of the18-month period, you will have another 31-day temporary extension of coverage for conversion to a non-group contract.

If you wish to continue your FEHB coverage under TCC, complete Standard Form SF-2809 (Health Benefits Election Form) and return it to BPLB. Forms must be returned within 60 calendar days after the date of your separation. Be sure to write "TCC" on the top of the form.

(7) Flexible Spending Account (FSA)

If you have a Health Care Flexible Spending Account or a Limited Expense Health Care FSA, your contributions will terminate on the date of your separation, but any expenses incurred before that will still be reimbursed. If you have a Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account, your contributions will terminate, but you may continue to be reimbursed for expenses until the end of the benefit period or until your account balance is exhausted; whichever is sooner.

(8) Federal Employees' Vision and Dental Insurance Program (FEDVIP)

If you are enrolled in FEDVIP, your coverage terminates at the end of the pay period in which you separate. There is no extension of coverage or opportunity to convert to an individual policy.

(9) Long Term Care (LTC)

If you are enrolled in LTC, it is fully portable as long as you continue paying premiums. If you are paying premiums through payroll deductions, you must switch to another payment plan. To change payment plans, call the LTC Partners at 1-800-LTC-FEDS (1-800-582-3337) and press 3 for customer service; or complete a Billing Change formAdobe PDF icon.

(10) Post-1956 Military Service

If you are planning to apply for a deferred retirement benefit and you have Post-1956 military service, you must make a deposit to the FERS Basic Benefits Plan in order to receive credit for that service in the computation of the deferred benefit. The deposit is 3% of the basic military pay you received (plus interest as applicable) and the deposit must be paid before your employment ends (unless you are subsequently re-employed in the Federal government).

If you wish to make the deposit, please notify BPLB immediately.

(11) Leave

If you have any annual leave that you have accrued but have not used prior to the end of your employment, you will be paid the accumulated leave in a lump sum. You will receive this payment during the pay period that your separation action is processed. If the separation action is processed late, the payment will also be late. The lump sum annual leave payment will follow the same electronic deposit as your salary check.

You will not be paid for any sick leave you have accrued but have not used prior to the end of your employment. If you return to the Federal Government, your accrued sick leave will be re-credited to your sick leave account.

(12) myPay

You will continue to have access to your myPay account for up to one year after you separate (https://mypay.dfas.mil/mypay.aspx External Web Site Disclaimer).You will use myPay to access your final Leave and Earnings Statement to review the salary and lump sum annual leave as well as to obtain your W-2.

QUESTIONS?

If you have any questions about any of this information or need forms, please contact the NIH Benefits & Payroll Liaison Branch (BPLB) at 31 Center Drive, Room B3C23, Bethesda, MD 20892-2215 or call at 301-496-4556.

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