Posted on Sunday, 14th February 2021 by

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Michael is a fulltime employee with the National Parks Service (NPS) that is subject to between 2 weeks and 6 months furlough each year.  He wanted to know if the time he is furloughed counts towards his FERS service?  For instance, if he is furloughed for 6 months would he have one year or 6 months of service for that year?

The amount of a CSRS or FERS annuity paid by OPM is based primarily on the amount of creditable service an employee performs and the employee’s high-3 average salary. Both CSRS and FERS allow service credit for up to 6 months of nonpay status in any calendar year. If a furlough period does not cause an employee to be in a nonpay status for more than 6 months in a calendar year, the furlough period will be included as creditable service in determining the employee’s total creditable service used in the annuity computation. If the total amount of time an employee spends in a nonpay status in a calendar year exceeds 6 months, the amount of nonpaid status in excess of 6 months in the calendar year will not be creditable for retirement purposes. Refer to OPM’s addendum for additional information and there may be certain flexibilities extended under the COVID relief directives. If you have any questions contact your HR office for clarifications.

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Employees and retirees alike have many questions about their benefits and how they have been impacted by the COVID pandemic. OPM issued over 20 oversight documents to add clarity to these issues that you can explore for the answers you may need. They cover emergency paid sick leave, annual leave and other paid time off, the use of flexible and maxiflex work schedules, leave payments under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), and so much more. Here is a link to OPM’s COVID-19 oversight directives that you can explore for areas of interest:

For those who are anticipating retiring soon, there have been changes to the process that you should be aware of, review OPM’s Benefits Administration Letter 20-102 Revised. It outlines “Temporary Changes to Retirement Application Processing.” The changes in this document are printed in red ink.

The good news, according to OPM, is that COVID-19 has not affected Retirement Services’ ability to process applications or deliver timely payments. One issue still remains, it is difficult getting through to OPM by phone. What I do is dial their number, 888-767-6738. If its busy, I hang up and immediately click on redial, I typically get through in several minutes using this technique. Expect long wait times, I’ve waited on hold for up to 45 minutes. Customer service representatives are available Monday thru Friday, 7:40 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. ET, they are closed on federal holidays. You can also email questions to anytime to ask questions or request assistance with their personal retirement issues. If you send email questions, don’t include sensitive data, and you can expect a reply in up to 14 days or longer.

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Find answers to your questions: The best time to retire, retirement income vs expenditures, FEGLI options and costs, TSP risks and withdrawal strategies, and other relevant topics. Determine what benefits to carry into retirement and their advantages. You will also have the opportunity to set up a personal one-on-one meeting with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER.

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Disclaimer: The information provided may not cover all aspect of unique or special circumstances, federal regulations, medical procedures, and benefit information are subject to change. To ensure the accuracy of this information, contact relevant parties for assistance including OPM’s retirement center. Over time, various dynamic economic factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation and this service is not affiliated with OPM or any federal entity. You should consult with a financial, medical or human resource professional where appropriate. Neither the publisher or author shall be liable for any loss or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.


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