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Federal Employees Benefits Q &A

Do you have questions about your federal employee CSRS or FERS pension/annuity or federal employee retirement planning? Concerns about your Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) account or what about federal employee pay and leave issues?

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The Q&A forum is moderated by Ed Zurndorfer -- an expert on federal employee benefits -- and a Certified Financial Planner, chartered life underwriter and chartered financial consultant in Maryland.

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#1 Posted : Sunday, September 15, 2019 5:28:44 PM(UTC)

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Hi. I was told that this may be a better place to post my question about a retirement issue. Hopefully, I'm able to get some guidance on an erroneous administrative error.

I was hired in 2015 as a Law Enforcement Officer at the Dept of Commerce. They placed me in the incorrect retirement system category within FERS. They placed in the FERS system which required me to contribute 1.3% of my pay toward retirement. However, I should have been placed in the “FERS-FRAE” system which would require me to contribute 4.9% of my salary. Now that I’m at the Department of Agriculture, they did not catch the error until this month. It has been nearly 5 years since the error has been made between both agencies.

Since this is an erroneous error on two agencies part and in no way would a reasonable employee know that there are multiple retirement categories with different contribution rates within “FERS”, would this constitute a FERCCA eligibility? If so, what are the steps for me to take? If this is not qualifying for FERCCA, what are my options? I would like to respectfully request that either my agency or OPM absolve the indebtedness. I just don't know where to begin and there wasn't much help from HR other than they're going to put me in the correct category (FERS-FRAE) and that would generate a bill that I would have to pay (roughly $13k).

Any help on this issue is appreciated, thank you.
Ed Zurndorfer  
#2 Posted : Monday, September 16, 2019 2:16:49 AM(UTC)
Ed Zurndorfer

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You need to go to your Department of Agriculture Personnel or Human Resources Office and explain what has happened (how you have contributed each pay date too little (3.6 per cent difference) of your paycheck into the FERS Retirement and Disability System. You obviously have to pay this difference if you want to retire as a FERS LEO. If your Personnel or Human Resources Office cannot or will not assist you in resolving your problem, then you should email OPM at retire@OPM.gov and explain your circumstances.
#3 Posted : Tuesday, September 17, 2019 7:55:53 AM(UTC)

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We just performed an agency audit regarding placement into an incorrect retirement plan. This is not a FERCCA case because you are correctly in FERS, just paying an incorrect amount. Your records need to be corrected back to 2015 - and corrected in both agency records. Generally, the payroll provider will then create a bill for you for contributions that should have been paid. You should submit a waiver request to both agencies - and hopefully the agency will pay the amounts for you. However, because they are statutory deductions, there is a chance that you'll receive, and get stuck with, the full amount due. The good news is if you have to pay, you should be able to make payroll deduction payments instead of one lump sum. Good luck!!
thanks 1 user thanked pookey1960 for this useful post.
SD Analyst on 9/18/2019(UTC)
Ed Zurndorfer  
#4 Posted : Tuesday, September 17, 2019 10:41:34 AM(UTC)
Ed Zurndorfer

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