Specific “Catch 62” Guidance — Part One

Had a recent comment regarding filing appeals to allow payments for credits of retired military time for those Federal Employees who missed the chance to do so at the time they retired.

Some of these folks were not properly informed/educated by their personnel offices and now are very sorry they missed the opportunity.  What fo they do now?

The quick answer to deal with first is, is it worth it?

Well as I have mentioned earlier I have a reader here, we’ll call him “Dave” (mainly because that is his name) who was in this position   When he retired he was grossly misinformed as to the consequences of his decision NOT to ‘purchase’ his military years.

He retired, loived happily until age 62 and the WHAM.. a $2000 USD PER MONTH reduction in his Federal Annuity (retirement pay).  Happy birthday.

Now “Dave” had several choices:

1.  “Bite the Bullet”:  After all the law says the decision not to make the contribution to ‘buy back’ those military years before actual retirement is “irrevocable”.  But my goodness that’s a $24,000 a year penalty for the rest of his life 9and the life of any survivors if he opted for a survivor annuitant.  Doesn’t sound like a good option to me, and it didn’t sound good to Dave, either.

2. See a Lawyer:  This is always a good option, and for many it’s a good option.  Providing you chose a lawyer who understands the federal employee appeals process and who has a good concept of the laws and rules surrounding “Catch 62”, this can be a very good option.  Here’s one lawyer who knows his business in regards to these cases, I’m sure there are many more. http://www.attiglawfirm.com/attorney-profile But “Dave” didn’t choose this option either.  he chose option 3 ..

3. File an Appeal On his Own “Pro se” (pro say), (that is, acting as his own attorney).  (In general I am against laymen acting as their own attorney, especially against a ‘big gun’ like the Federal Government.  But in a case like this, “Dave” had already lost.

He already had suffered the worst outcome possible from his case, his annuity reduced for life.  So the worst possible outcome of an appeal would be a denial, and he would still be where he already was in his case.

In other words any success at all in the appeal could only benefit him.  Worth the risk, since ehe already was on the klosing end of the deal.  Acting “ro se” is always a legal option.

And the good news is, as i have written here before and will write more in the future … he won.

Now he has to pay a bit under $20,000 back into the retirment system.  Sounds like more of a loss thna a win to some of you I imagine.

But he also gets 8 months worth of ‘back pay’ from his retirment that was already withheld, so his out of pocket, one time exspense is only $3 or $4,000 total.

And the payoff?  Well just imagine that “Dave” lives to, make a guess, say 92.  thirty years from now.

30 years is 360 months, at $2000 a month that comes up to $720,000 … almost 3/4 of amillion dollars, ignoring any interest or other investment gains.

Pretty good pay for patiently making emails and writing a few letters I would say.

You can find the procedures and your rights for filing appeals on the:

www.opm.gov site.

To find out how much the ‘missing’ years of military service will hurt your annuity, here’s a refresher in how these years are calculated:

How Annuities Are Computed
Your basic annuity is computed based on your length of service (which includes unused sick leave if you retire on an immediate annuity) and “high-3” average pay. To determine your length of service for computation, add all your periods of creditable service, and the period represented by your unused sick leave, then eliminate from the total any fractional part of a month.

Your “high-3” average pay is the highest average basic pay you earned during any 3 consecutive years of service. Generally, your basic annuity cannot be more than 80 percent of your “high-3” average
pay, unless the amount over 80 percent is due to crediting your unused sick leave.

Your yearly basic annuity is computed by adding:

(a) 1 1/2 percent of your “high-3” average pay times service up to 5 years;

(b) 1 3/4 percent of your “high-3” pay times years of service over 5 and up to 10; and

(c) 2 percent of your “high-3” pay times years of service over 10.

Your basic annuity will be reduced if:

(a) you retire before age 55 (unless you retire for disability or under the special provisions for law enforcement officers, air traffic controllers, and firefighters);

(b) you didn’t make a deposit for service performed prior to October 1, 1982, during which no deductions were taken from your pay (non-deduction service after that date is not used in the computation of benefits if the deposit is not paid); (Ed: This is the Catch 62 part)

(c) you didn’t make a redeposit of a refund for a period of service that ended before October 1, 1990; or

(d) you provide for a survivor annuitant….

for complete detals see: http://www.oklahoma.feb.gov/Forms/2012FederalRetirement.pdf



  1. Mark Johnson says:

    I too received my “Catch 62” Birthday Present. To keep things simple, my letter claimed that after serving 23 1/2 yrs as a selective reservist, of which 3 1/2 yrs were active duty, the rest as a drilling reservist I also served 30 years as a DOD employee under CSRS. OPM agreed that I had paid back all but an, 101 days of Active Duty for Training in Bahrain (2006), which according to my retirement counselor would be inconsequential. So my questions (I have sent everything to OPM with the exception of copies of the check as the bank had to send for them) are these:
    1) how can OPM take almost $600/month for life for an amount I don’t know I owe and was counseled that it was “inconsequential” anyway, as it was only for 101 day of ADT. That is theft and anyone else would be in jail if was done to their pay!

    2) Is Active Duty for Training considered active duty (my wife received no benefits whatsoever) to be calculated into CSRS retirement pay?
    3) Nine months after I retired I received written notification from OPM the 101 days was not paid for. That’s really dumb because the Law states that all payments must have been made prior to retirement!!

    • Mark I answered this comment with some specific questions which might help to get your money back. But you have not answered, so there is little I can do to help. Feel free to write back if you would like to explore some of your options.

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