20-Year Retirement Benefits. For. NNSA Federal Agents (Nuclear Materials Couriers)

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1 20-Year Retirement Benefits For NNSA Federal Agents (Nuclear Materials Couriers)

2 Table of Contents Page Background.. 1 Statutory Provisions.. 1 Coverage... 2 Primary Positions Secondary Positions Eligibility for Secondary Positions Retirement Benefits. 3 CSRS and CSRS Offset FERS Computation of Benefits Retirement Deductions Retirement Eligibility Mandatory Retirement Crediting Military and Civilian Service. 7 Sample FERS Retirement Benefit 8 Sample CSRS Retirement Benefit.. 9 This handbook serves only as a quick reference for benefits under the 20-Year enhanced retirement benefits for nuclear materials couriers. You should consult with your servicing human resources office if you have questions pertaining to regulatory requirements or provisions of the law regarding enhanced benefits.

3 Background The Department of Energy (DOE), in years past had approached the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to determine if nuclear materials couriers were eligible for coverage under the law enforcement category for enhanced retirement benefits under the special 20-Year benefits under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS). OPM determined that nuclear materials couriers did not meet the definition of law enforcement for eligibility and coverage under the special 20-year retirement benefits. Despite this decision, the Department pursued and acquired congressional support for including nuclear materials courier positions under the special 20-year retirement provisions. Congress acknowledged the uniqueness and nature of the work performed by nuclear materials couriers, and accepted the Department s rationale for including this type of work under the enhanced special 20-Year retirement benefits. Consequently, a new bill was introduced (1998 HR 3616) that later was passed and resulted in establishment of new legislation under Public Law This law became effective on 10/17/98. The enactment of this law established a new category of positions, Nuclear Materials Courier, for inclusion under the enhanced retirement benefits for special 20-Year retirement under the CSRS and FERS retirement systems. The law authorized retroactive credit of service, for the purpose of establishing an entitlement to an annuity, back to the date the DOE was established. This date was October 1, Employees who were on the rolls at the time the law was enacted, and who occupied eligible or covered positions, began to contribute a higher percentage of their pay into the OPM retirement and disability fund. Employee deductions became effective on 10/25/1998. The employee s official personnel record was also amended to reflect the change in retirement deductions as well as identifying all qualifying service retroactive to 10/01/77 or later, depending on the employee s work history with the department and other qualifying service from work performed in other agencies/categories as applicable. As part of the overall implementation of this new retirement benefit for eligible employees, the DOE agreed to pay to OPM both the employee share and agency share of the difference for the higher retirement contributions into retirement and disability fund. The Department of Energy made 5 equal annual payments in the amount of $3,510,000 with the first payment made on January 1999 and the last payment made on January These payments covered the difference retroactive to October 1, 1977 that would have otherwise been paid by both the employees and the agency over the 20-year time span. Statutory Provisions With the enactment of PL , legislation established a new category of positions for coverage under the enhanced retirement benefits for 20-Year retirement. Keep in mind that law enforcement officers, fire fighters, and air-traffic controllers were already defined under their own category for coverage prior to enactment of PL Therefore, while the enhanced retirement benefits are applicable across all category of positions, i.e., the retirement benefit computation formula is the same regardless of the category, decisions regarding eligibility for coverage, e.g., qualifications for primary and secondary positions, minimum and maximum age requirements, or basic pay that is part of the high-three retirement computation, must be made in accordance with the unique or distinct definitions contained in the statutes for each of these different categories. Employees under CSRS, including those who are offset, are covered by the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Chapter 5, Part 831, Subpart H - Nuclear Materials Couriers. 1

4 Employees under FERS are covered by the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Chapter 5, Part 842, Subpart I - Nuclear Materials Couriers. Coverage - Eligibility The U.S. Office of Personnel Management has delegated to the DOE/NNSA, the authority to determine positions eligible for coverage. Positions that have been identified for coverage are categorized into either primary or secondary. [CSRS - 5 CFR, Part 831, sections , , ;FERS 5 CFR, Part 842, sections , , ] Primary Positions - To be considered primary, the duties of the position must be to primarily transport, and provide armed escort and protection during transit of, nuclear weapons, nuclear weapon components, strategic quantities of special nuclear materials or other materials related to national security. NNSA has determined that positions classified in the GS-0084 series are primary. [Note: The GS-0084 series became a single agency standard on 7/24/83 and is specific to nuclear materials courier primary duties. The GS-0084 series is only used by DOE/NNSA Prior to July 1983 positions were classified in the GS-0080 and GS-0085 series and some of these positions had been determined to meet the definition for primary position] Age Requirements As part of the overall special 20-Year retirement system, there is also a maximum entry age for first appointment into a primary position. The DOE/NNSA has established a maximum entry age of 37. A first time candidate/employee cannot be 38 or older at time of entrance into position. For example, a candidate can be age 37 and 7 months at time of first appointment into the primary position but cannot be age 38. The DOE/NNSA has also established a minimum entry age of 21 years. Secondary Positions To be considered secondary, the position must: (1) be in the nuclear materials courier field; (2) be in the organization having nuclear materials courier positions, i.e., OST; and (3) is either supervisory (supervising nuclear materials couriers), or is administrative, executive, managerial, technical, semiprofessional, or professional for which experience in a primary (GS-0084) position is a mandatory prerequisite for minimum qualification requirements. DOE/NNSA has approved positions for secondary coverage in varying occupational categories. Positions descriptions are identified as secondary. Vacancy announcements will be clearly marked as secondary and should state the prerequisites as indicated above as part of the minimum qualifications. Eligibility For a Secondary Position An employee must have occupied a primary position for 3 years and move directly into the secondary position by reassignment, promotion or change to lower grade. For example, if an OST training instructor position has been designated and approved as a secondary position, a potential applicant for that vacant position must have been in a primary, or GS-0084, position for three years in order to meet the minimum qualification requirements. The 3-year requirement applies to employees covered by either CSRS (and Offset) or FERS retirement systems. [Note: Prior to the establishment of the single agency standard for the GS-0084 series, an employee could have performed three years of qualifying primary duties in the GS-0085 or GS job series. The HR office must verify qualifying service that might have been performed between 10/01/77 and 7/24/83] Retirement Benefits As part of the 20-Year Special enhanced retirement benefits, you are eligible for a higher monthly retirement annuity (pension) plus you can retire at an earlier age than other CSRS and 2

5 FERS employees. Depending on whether you are a CSRS employee or FERS employee, you will be eligible for additional benefits as described below. Your Monthly Retirement Benefit CSRS and CSRS-Offset FERS Monthly CSRS Annuity Thrift Savings Plan (if you have contributed) Social Security benefit for CSRS-Offset employees Monthly FERS Annuity Supplemental Social Security Benefit payable upon retirement until age 62 Thrift Savings Plan (automatic agency contributions plus your contributions and agency matching contributions) Social Security Benefit at age 62 Computation of Your Monthly Benefit CSRS and CSRS-Offset Annuity FERS Annuity 2.5% X High-3 Salary X First 20 years of special service Plus 2.0% X High-3 Salary X Years and months of service over 20 years (including creditable military service and sick leave) CSRS-Offset: Your annuity will be computed using the same rules/formula for CSRS even though you are contributing a lesser amount into the retirement fund. However, at age 62 OPM will offset (or reduce) your monthly annuity. The reason for this is because as a CSRS-Offset employee you are contributing a lesser amount into the CSRS retirement fund but you are also contributing into the social security fund (see page 4, deductions). Your offset service is later used by the SSA in computing your overall social security benefit. At age 62, OPM will determine how much of your SS benefit is based on your offset service. For example, let s say your total social security benefit is $1500 per month with $600 of that benefit based on your CSRS-Offset service. Your monthly CSRS benefit would them be offset by $600, but not until age % X High-3 Salary X First 20 years of special service Plus 1.0% X High-3 X Years and months of service over 20 years (including creditable military service) Note: The high-three salary is an average of your highest salary that is typically the last three years of your employment. Note: The high-three salary is an average of your highest salary that is typically the last three years of your employment. Plus your TSP. You may also be eligible for a social security benefit depending on whether you have other employment subject to social security deductions. CSRS-Offset employees will establish a social security benefit. Plus your Supplemental Social Security benefit and TSP. The supplemental benefit uses the SSA benefit computation rules and uses only your FERS service and earnings when computing the monthly benefit. 3

6 Retirement Deductions Employees occupying a primary or secondary position pay a higher percentage of their pay into the OPM retirement and disability fund. This higher rate is in turn received in the form of a higher monthly benefit at time of retirement. The agency must also pay a higher rate into the retirement and disability fund. CSRS and CSRS-Offset Deductions Employee Pays Agency Pays CSRS % 9.01% CSRS-Offset 9.01% (plus 6.2% 1.55% (plus 6.2% for SS) for SS) 1.45% Medicare 1.45% Medicare TSP Employee can contribute up to 8% (03); 9% (04); 10% (05); and in 06 up to the IRS limit. There is no automatic 1% or agency matching contributions. FERS Deductions Employee Pays Agency Pays FERS % 23.3% (plus (plus 6.2% for 6.2% for SS) SS) 1.45% Medicare 1.45% Medicare TSP- Automatic agency 1% contribution plus up to 5% match provided employee contributes 5%. Employee can contribute 13% (03); 14% (04); 15% (05); and in 06 up to the IRS limit. Retirement Eligibility An employee may take advantage of the special retirement based on the service and age criteria below. An employee who completes the required service does not have to occupy a primary or secondary position in order to retire under the special provisions. For example, a CSRS or FERS employee may complete 20 years of special service but only be age 46. He/she can move to a non-covered position and once he/she reaches age 50, can submit an application to retire under the special provisions. CSRS and CSRS-Offset Must complete 20 years of special service in a primary or combination of primary and secondary service. AND Must be at least age 50. FERS Must complete 20 years of special service in a primary or combination of primary and secondary service. AND Must be at least age 50. OR Must have 25 years of special service as indicated above regardless of your age. 4

7 Mandatory Retirement An employee who occupies a primary or secondary position, and who has completed at least the minimum amount of special service of 20 years, is subject to the mandatory retirement provisions of the law for the special 20-Year retirement system. The mandatory retirement age for nuclear material couriers in a primary or secondary position is age 57. There are some exceptions for those employees who were hired prior to enactment of PL and who were above age 37 at the time of their appointment. The mandatory retirement effective date is the last day of the month in which the employee reaches age 57 or completes 20 years of service. [Title 5, Section 8335 (CSRS) and Title 5 Section 8424 (FERS)] See Examples Below Prior to PL (Before 10/17/98) Under PL (After 10/17/98) Bill was hired on 10/12/96 at the age of 45. Bill will be age 57 in 2015; however, Bill will only have 19 years of special service. Bill s mandatory retirement will therefore be when he completes 20 years of special service in His effective date will be 10/31/2016. This is the last day of the month in which he completes 20 years of service although he will be age 58. George was hired at the age of 33. When George reaches age 57 on 6/22/08 he will have 27 years of service. His mandatory retirement effective date will be effective on 6/31/08 because George has already met the minimum service requirement and he reaches age 57 on 6/22/08. Susan was hired on 10/20/98 at the age of 35. She will turn age 57 on 5/4/2020. She will complete 20 years of special service on 10/20/2018. Her mandatory retirement effective date would be 5/31/2020 because although she will have more than 20 years of service, she does not reach age 57 until 5/4/2020. Ray was hired at the age of 37 and 6 months on 10/20/98. Ray will turn age 57 on 4/24/2018. However, Ray will not complete 20 years of service until 10/20/2018. His mandatory retirement effective date will be 10/31/2018. This is the day he completes 20 years of service although he will be age 57 and 6 months on this date. How to Avoid the Mandatory Retirement Date As employee, you may not be ready to leave federal service simply because you attained age 57 and had 20 years or more of special service or you were just above age 57 when you completed 20 years of special service. Keep in mind that mandatory retirement only applies to you if you occupy a primary or secondary position when you meet the specified criteria above. If you move to a non-covered position, e.g., a reassignment or promotion, in another OST office or even another NNSA organization or even another agency, you will not be subject to the mandatory retirement provisions of the law. As long as you have fulfilled your minimum amount of special service (20 or more years), and you other wise meet the minimum age requirement (or 25 years of service if you are FERS), you can opt to retire under the special retirement provisions at anytime, even if you are now in a non-covered position in NNSA or in another agency. Note: If you transfer to another agency, make sure the DOE/NNSA HR office certifies your completion of the special service and places a copy of this service period in your Official Personnel File. Make sure you keep a copy. The certification should include specific start and end dates and it should specify periods by primary and secondary service. This document must be submitted with your retirement application at the time you retire. Keep in mind that your new personnel office may not be familiar with the 20-year retirement system and may not understand how you could be eligible to retire. Crediting Military and Civilian Service 5

8 Credit for Military Service Military service is potentially creditable for the purpose of computing your monthly annuity when you retire. Credit will depend on which retirement system you are under. To receive credit for your active duty military service you must make a deposit into the OPM retirement and disability fund for that period (s) of service. The amount owed will depend on your total basic pay for that period of service and the retirement system you are under, i.e., CSRS or FERS. There are some exceptions for making the deposit if you are a CSRS CSRS-Offset employee. This will depend on whether you will be eligible for a social security benefit at age 62. Military service does not count towards fulfilling the 20 years of special service in a primary or secondary position, even if your military position was in a law enforcement capacity. Creditable military service counts as part of the service in excess of the special service when computing your annuity. [See section on page 3; computation of your annuity] Creditable service is active duty service. Army and Air Force Reserves active duty annual training (e.g., your summer camp) is creditable. Annual active duty for training in the Air or Army National Guard is not creditable service (due to being a component of the state). All active duty, e.g., to attend a tech school or called into active service by the president, e.g., Desert Storm, 911 and War on Iraq, is creditable. Your Human Resources Office must verify all potentially creditable military service. [Note: This is referring to military service prior to your appointment]) In general, you must make a deposit into the OPM retirement and disability fund to receive credit for military service (see exceptions below). If you are retired military your service is not creditable; however, there are some exceptions and you should contact your HR office for more information. Typically you must waive your retired military pay at the time you retire from your civilian position and you must make a deposit for your entire military service. CSRS and CSRS-Offset You do not have to make a deposit into the OPM retirement and disability fund. You will receive credit for active duty service and the service will be used in computing your monthly annuity at time of retirement. Your military service will continue to count until you reach age 62. If at age 62 you are eligible for a social security benefit, OPM will re-compute your annuity by subtracting your military service. This will result in a reduced annuity. To avoid this reduction, you must make a deposit into the OPM retirement and disability fund before you retire. If you make the deposit, you will continue to receive credit for your military service at age 62 and beyond. FERS In order to receive credit for your active duty military service, you must make a deposit into the OPM retirement and disability fund before you retire. There are no exceptions. The amount owed will be 3% of your total military earnings for the period(s) of active duty. You will have a two-year grace period from the date of your first appointment to make the deposit without having to pay interest. After this two-year period expires, interest will be added at the end of each fiscal year based on the balance due. The amount owed will be 7% of your total military earnings for the period(s) of active duty. 6

9 (Military Service Credit Continued) How Do I Make A Deposit For My Military Service You should contact your Human Resources servicing personnel office. They can assist you with completion of the required form to request your military earnings. Once your earnings are received, your HR office can assist you with completing the application to make the deposit. The application and earnings will be forwarded to the DOE payroll office and that office will compute the amount owed. The payroll office will notify in writing and provide you with options for making the payment, e.g., a $50.00 biweekly deduction from your pay. Federal Civilian Service Credit In general, federal civilian service is creditable towards total years of service for computing a retirement benefit. For example, John Doe was employed with National Park Service as a program analyst for 5 years. He was hired for a Nuclear Materials Courier position with NNSA and transferred without a break in service. John s prior 5 years of service are creditable towards total years of service but do not count towards meeting the 20 years of special service because his position with the National Park Service was not in a primary or secondary position. In this example John s regular retirement service computation date (SCD) for total years of service credit would be the date of his first appointment with the prior agency. If John also had creditable military service, that service would also be reflected in the regular retirement SCD. His 20-year special retirement service computation date (also referred to as the LEO SCD) would be the date of his appointment with NNSA as a Nuclear Materials Courier. In some instances civilian service may be creditable for the purposes of fulfilling the 20 years of special service needed to retire. To be creditable, this service must have been under a primary position and you must have transferred directly into another primary position without a break in service. For example, John Doe was employed with the National Park Service Police for 6 years and was hired for a Nuclear Materials Courier position. He was age 34 so he met the maximum entry age requirement for the NMC position. John s position with the Park Police was a primary position. Since he transferred from one primary position to another primary position without a break in service, his LEO SCD would be the date of his initial appointment in the primary position held in the other agency. His regular retirement date would be different if he happened to also have creditable military service. You should contact your servicing Human Resources Office if you have had breaks in service (e.g., you held a civilian position, then resigned, and later returned to federal service) to determine how service is creditable. Other temporary appointments/service may also be creditable. Your HR office can explain the special rules that apply to service for which you received a refund of your retirement deductions or rules that apply to temporary appointments. Contact your servicing Human Resources office for information on other employee benefits such as Health Insurance, Life Insurance, Thrift Savings Plan and Long Term Heath Care. SAMPLE RETIREMENT BENEFITS Example A - Special Agent Smokey 7

10 Smokey is covered by the FERS retirement system. He has prior military service and began his first civilian federal service with DOE/NNSA as a Materials Courier (primary position), then was later promoted to a Lead Agent position. He retired as a Lead Agent at the GS-12 grade level. Smokey s Service History 01/15/80 to 01/14/83 Military (Air Force) 01/05/84 to 01/30/04 DOE/NNSA Smokey wanted to receive credit for his military service so he made the deposit during the first two years he was employed. Smokey has completed 20 years and 26 days of special service. Total Service Credited for Retirement Eligibility: 23 years, 0 months, and 26 days. Smokey is eligible to retire with the enhanced special benefit under the 20-Year retirement system because he has completed 20+ years of special service and is age 50 on the date of retirement. (Note: As a FERS employee, you can retire with 25 years of special service regardless of your age) Total Service Credit for Computation of Annuity: Years Mnths Days This is service in excess of the 20 years of special service and will be computed using the regular computation formula Total Service This is Smokey s special 20 years of service and will be computed using the enhanced computation formula. Smokey had more than 20 years of special service but it will be computed as part of the excess service above. Smokey s Monthly FERS Benefit High-Three Average Salary: $58,555 Monthly FERS Benefit: $1,624 Supplemental Monthly SS Benefit: $636 Annual Benefit: $27,156 The high three average salary does not include overtime pay. It only takes into account the employee s rate of basic pay. This does not include Smokey s TSP benefit. Keep in mind your TSP benefit will depend on your contributions and your investments. If Smokey was to elect a full survivor s benefit for his wife, it would cost $180 per month and his wife would be eligible for a monthly survivor s benefit in the amount of $902. Note: This estimate does not reflect cost of health insurance and life insurance. Contact your HR specialist for more information regarding related retirement benefits with regard to health and life insurance. 8

11 Example B - Special Agent Bob Bob is covered by the CSRS retirement system. He has prior military service and began his first civilian federal service with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons as a Correctional Officer. His position with Bureau of Prisons was covered by the law enforcement category and was therefore eligible for the enhanced retirement benefits under the 20-Year special retirement program. He left Bureau of Prisons and started working with DOE/NNSA as a Nuclear Materials Courier (primary position), then was later reassigned into a secondary position and retired as a Transportation Specialist at the GS-13 grade level. Bob s Service History 04/16/76 to 10/10/83 Military (US Marines) Bob made a deposit for his military service because he knew he would be eligible for a social security benefit at age 62 and did not want to lose this credit. 12/10/83 to 05/09/85 Bureau of Prisons Bob s service with Bureau of Prisons was in a primary position and he went directly to NNSA. Bob therefore has a total of 23 05/10/85 to 06/30/07 DOE/NNSA years, 6 months, and 21 days of special service. Total Service Credited for Retirement Eligibility: 31 years, 0 months, and 16 days. Bob is eligible to retire with the enhanced special benefit under the 20-Year retirement system because he has completed 20+ years of special service and is age 50 on the date of retirement. Total Service Credit for Computation of Annuity: Years Mnths Days This is service in excess of the 20 years of special service and will be computed using the regular computation formula Total Service At time of retirement Bob had 1500 hours of sick leave that was converted to additional service. It is also considered excess service and is computed using the regular computation formula. This is Bob s special 20 years of service and will be computed using the enhanced computation formula. Bob had more than 20 years of special service but that excess service will be computed as indicated above. Bob s Monthly CSRS Benefit High-Three Average Salary: $78,850 Monthly Benefit: $4,829 Annual Benefit: $57,940 The high three average salary does not include overtime pay. It only takes into account the employee s rate of basic pay. This does not include Bob s TSP benefit. If Bob was to elect a full survivor s benefit for his wife, it would cost $460 per month and his wife would be eligible for a monthly survivor s benefit in the amount of $2,656 (55% of Bob s annual benefit). Note: This estimate does not reflect cost of health insurance and life insurance. Contact your HR specialist for more information regarding related retirement benefits with regard to health and life insurance. 9

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