Common Catch 62 Questions



From time to time some pretty interesting comments come in here at Retired Pay regarding the good old (bad old) Catch 62 Questions

Today I got at least three comments from a fellow named Dan.  Reader Dan seems a bit upset at the “deal” he got in his retirement journey and he seems to have transferred a lot of anger and dissatisfaction to me .. as I were responsible for what has happened to him

That’s OK Dan, I’ll still talk to you, and I’ll be happy to answer your questions.  Not too sure if you will like the answers, but they are truthful and to the point.

And perhaps if you were to lose (or at least suspend) that pissed off at the world attitude, you might learn something about the ins and outs of Catch 62.

Here’s Dan’s first question:

Who is RP and who is answer Catch 62 ???? I beg to diff with some of the info being put out. I have been through the whole process and it doe not work as described. For one according to the MSPB NO one, I said NO one, has ever won a Catch 62 case against OPM by way of “PRO SE”….ever.

This is kind of a two part question.  The first part is easily answered by looking at my About page, located right up above these words in the top menu bar.  In part:

… Author of all material unless otherwise annotated is David W. Starr , dave@retiredpay.com

DISCLAIMER: This site is authored and maintained by a lay person.  All readers are strongly encouraged to seek competent legal advice before making any decisions.  The information here is believed correct when posted but is not warranted in any way and may, in fact, be completely erroneous.  Each case is different!  Consult a competent legal advisor! YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary)

Copyright (c) 1999-2014, David W. Starr, all rights reserved …

Part two (if I can catch the meaning of your sentence which seems to have been written in kind of an angry mood) seems to be asking who is “RP” to answer questions about Catch 62?

catch 62 questions

Simple.  I’m am a 68 year old retired CSRS Civil Servant with 10 years active service in the US Air Force.  I paid the required 7% contribution before my retirement date and thus enjoy the benefit of being credited to just over 38 years of Federal Service, due to the Catch 62 law.  Otherwise I would be retired from Civil Service (under CSRS rules) with only 28 years of service credited..

I am, as I clearly sate a lay person, not a lawyer or any other type of professional provider of services.  But I have worked at answering Catch 62 questions for more than 10 years now, and I can share the fact that even a few attorneys have come to me for answers … or to employ me to do research or author reports on the subject for them.

To be an attorney you need to go to law school, pass the bar and such, but to know the facts about arcane rules in the Federal retirement “thicket”, diligent self-study will go  along way.

For those of you who feel my qualifications are insufficient, I have no issue at all .. the Internet is a big place, move on.  For those who might like some help from someone who knows the score about Catch 62, stick around and I’ll try to help.  As always, let me be clear that I am neither qualified not authorized to dispense legal advice, so when you need legal advice, consult a knowledgeable attorney.

Now for the second part of the comment where Dan states that

“according to MSPB NO one, I said NO one, has ever won a Catch 62 case against OPM by way of “PRO SE”….ever” I believe that either you heard wrong or whomever made that comment in the name of the MSPB (Merit Systems Protection Board).

Sorry, but I can furnish written proof that this statement is wrong.  Either the person you received this information from was not in full possession of the facts, or, perhaps, they miss-understood some aspect of the question you asked, but either way the statement is demonstrably false.

I have subscribed to the regular reports of cases which the MSPB publishes every month and I can assure you many cases, of all description, have been one by employees acting “Pro Se” (in lay terms that means acting as their own attorney).

I have also been furnished case documentation by Retired Pay readers who have won appeals on Catch 62 issues, Pro Se.

I will be the first to say that employees who are represented by attorneys seem to have a much better “win” record, which is why I will again recommend using a competent attorney, but it is absolutely possible to win MSBP cases “Pro Se”.

I do have a question that I ask them when I appealed my case and won but could not pay the large sum vie LUMSUM…How is this law NOT discrimination against Veterans since it is only take retirement funds from Veterans???

I’m not quite sure what to say here, Dan. Discrimination against veterans.  Wow, yeah, I’m against that too.  But perhaps you are not looking at the while picture.  Let’s use my own personal status as an example, so that I can be sure I have my facts straight, shall we?

  • I entered active duty in 1965.  In 1975 I left active duty (honorably) and joined the Federal Service.
  • At that time, from 1975 through 1982, my ten years of service as a veteran were completely “lost”.  I did not have enough time in to earn a military retirement, and those 19 years did not count toward my years of Federal Civil Service.  Dead, lost and gone, as if they didn’t exist.
  • Recognizing that this situation was indeed blatant discrimination against veterans, the law was changed to allow veterans to “buy back” that formerly lost Military time.

Let’s look at my own figures.  If I were retiring today, as a GS-12 Step 10, my annuity (retirement pay) would be based on my “high Three years”, which would have averaged out to just under $80,000 USD.

With my military time included my retirement percentage would be (again in round numbers) about $60,000 USD.  (about 76%)

Under the old law, at age 62 I would have lost 10 years of “Federal Time”, or roughly 20%, resulting in an annuity of (about) $40,800 (about 56%)

My buyback amount before interest was about $8000 USD.  So for a one-time investment of $8000 USD I gained a $10,000 USD increase in my annuity from age 62 until I die, or until my wife dies, as I have elected to avail of the Survivor Benefit Program.  Let’s say that either my wife or I die at age 82.  (I’m hoping for 102 myself, but reality may get in the way.  That would make 20 years of increased annuity I gained by making that military buy back decision.    Roughly $320,000 USD.   For a $8000 USD investment?

What is the rate of return on that, Dan?  You certainly can’t get that in a bank, or from the TSP or the stock market.  And so far as the lump sum aspect?  It would have been well worth it even if I had had to borrow the $8000 USD at high interest rates like a credit card.  I still would have started receiving a positive rate of return in less than a year.

Discrimination against Veterans?  Not in my book.  I am one veteran who is very grateful the law was changed back in 1982.

And in a situation as you describe, where a veteran has already suffered the “Catch 62” annuity reduction and then wins an appeal retiring his/he original pension, any veteran who can do simple arithmetic should run, not walk to pay back the money s/h has won the right to pay back.  Why?

Because once you pay it back you would receive and immediate (lump sum also) payment for the money that was taken between the year you were 62 and the year you won your appeal.

In other words, once you make the lump sum repayment, you actually get paid by the government to raise you annuity.

That pretty well falls under the heading of too good to be true … except that it is. (Side question, were you represented by counsel in this appeal process?)

Just read an article and the person ask if his annuity would be reduced by 8% for the four years of service and you told him he would in did get whacked for 8% and that is NOT true….he will be penalized by having his annuity reduced by the number of years he was in service “4years” he said that in his question.

I’m confused here, Dan, as to what you say I got wrong.  I’d be happy to acknowledge a mistake and correct myself if I was wrong … but I wasn’t.

The reader in question was asking about the effect of buying back (or losing) 4 full years of Federal Service.

In round numbers, under CSRS, each year of Federal Service nets you 2% in retirement annuity.  ( a person retiring with 40 years of service nets a retirement multiplier of 80% … 2 % per year of Federal service).

An employee retiring under CSRS rules with 20 satisfactory years nets about 40% of his/her High Three, and so on.  Thus a person gaining or losing 4 years if military time will find their annuity (retirement pay) goes up or down about 8% (4 years x 2% per year).

Can you tell me where you feel I went wrong here?  Any CSRS retirement chart or estimation program will yield this answer .. are you sure you are familiar with how the CSRS retirement system works?

Is there a chance this Catch 62 Law can or will be overturned and everyone get their full retirement back???Would it help if we(us victims of Catch 62) start a social page movement to get it overturned in light of the VA scandal.

I have no clue of an idea as to what the connection between the current VA scandal and Catch 62 might be, but Is there a chance?

Sure, there’s always a chance.  You’re an American.  It’s your right to protest anything you feel is unjust.  You go right ahead and put up your own website, or complain vociferously on Facebook, in veteran’s forums, write letters to your representatives … heck there are even online sites for drafting petitions and getting signatures on line.  Godspeed to you.

Just leave me out of it, please, because I am one veteran who is glad Catch 62 exists and very glad I made the very small investment of buying back my military time.

It worked great for me.  For you and others, well all I can say is, YMMV.

I am always ready for more Catch 62 questions.




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