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Looking for a former military PA who went to work for the VA


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I am looking for someone who works in the VA and has a great understanding of their retirement system. I'm not necessarily looking to make a move but there is an opening close to me. I'm trying to figure out conversion of 18 years of military service into the VA retirement system. Credit for military service, the "buy back" you have to make to get credit, and how it all translates with VA retirement and social security.

I have read the FERS manual and the conversion description but it is all a bit confusing and I don't want to consider a jump and find out I did it to no real benefit. PM me if you have some thoughts. TIA

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I am a retired Army PA currently working for the VA. Basically there are two different retirement system for you to participate in. 

First is FERS. This system will pay you when you retire based on years of service. The easiest way to describe it is that it takes your average high three years of salary and divides it by your years of service.

Example: You high three average is $100000. Your years of service, 15 years. Retirement payout would equal 15000 a year at retirement.

The FERS system is where you buy back your military service. In my case I bought back 12 years of active duty service. This buy back will add to your years of service. I went from 6 years of service to 18 years of service. To buy back your service you have to submit all of your DD 214 to Defense Finance and they will figure out what you owe. You can pay it back as a lump sum or as a allotment over time. Once you are employed by the VA go to Human Resources and they will give you instructions and the paperwork to fill out. Be warned it is a lengthy process and may take up to 6 months to finally get thing processed to your preferences.  Once paid off you will receive a final payoff from Defense finance saying you are current with your buy back. Take a copy to Human Resources and have them re compute your years of creditable service. You will know that it is complete by checking  Leave and Earnings statement. Ensure that  your paperwork is uploaded your into your electronic human resources file. 

The second is the Thrift Savings. This is a plan that matches your contribution dollar for dollar up to 4%. You can pick which fund it goes into that matches your risk level.

***The VA retirement system will not affect your military retirement, social security or and military disability that you will draw.***

In addition I believe with your 18 years of creditable service you will be placed in a higher pay grade and eligible to receive increased vacation and sick leave accumulation. Again check with your local Human Resources.

Also of note the Physician Assistants working in the VA will be going into a different pay grade system that is extremely beneficial for us. They are taking us out of the GS system and placing us in a pay system designed just for us that will make our pay more comparable to similar  health care providers in the VA system. I don't know the specifics because I haven't payed attention to it because of my impending retirement.  From what I've seen it looks more favorable then the current system.

For what its worth it is very satisfying working for the VA. The system can be cumbersome and frustrating at times. As always if you know how to navigate the system  your fine.

I have a sign on the door  that reminds me why I work at the VA. "No One Takes Better Care Of A Veteran, Then A Veteran"

Hope this helps. If you have any questions let me know.

TD

 

Edited by TDIowa
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8 minutes ago, TDIowa said:

Example: You high three average is $100000. Your years of service, 15 years. Retirement payout would equal 15000 a year at retirement.

This sounds awfully low.  I just cashed out my FERS and TSP.  TSP was quick to payout.  FERS took a while to get.  This was for 6 mos. of service.  That's all it took for me to see the writing on the wall at my facility.

As a comparison, Texas County/District retirement system will be paying me $4177/mo. for 8+ years of service with annual income just a tad higher (10% on avg.) than your example.  That also includes a 50% payout for my wife should she survive me.  I will also be excluded from WEP on my SSI with my other school district pension (qualified for 5 years of service just short of 5 years of actual employment) and will be receiving $858/mo.

There will be no WEP activation with a fed job, only teachers in some states traditionally who don't pay into SS, or don't have enough qualifying years of income outside SS deferral to avoid WEP activation.

Edited by GetMeOuttaThisMess
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1 hour ago, TDIowa said:

I am a retired Army PA currently working for the VA. Basically there are two different retirement system for you to participate in. 

First is FERS. This system will pay you when you retire based on years of service. The easiest way to describe it is that it takes your average high three years of salary and divides it by your years of service.

Example: You high three average is $100000. Your years of service, 15 years. Retirement payout would equal 15000 a year at retirement.

The FERS system is where you buy back your military service. In my case I bought back 12 years of active duty service. This buy back will add to your years of service. I went from 6 years of service to 18 years of service. To buy back your service you have to submit all of your DD 214 to Defense Finance and they will figure out what you owe. You can pay it back as a lump sum or as a allotment over time. Once you are employed by the VA go to Human Resources and they will give you instructions and the paperwork to fill out. Be warned it is a lengthy process and may take up to 6 months to finally get thing processed to your preferences.  Once paid off you will receive a final payoff from Defense finance saying you are current with your buy back. Take a copy to Human Resources and have them re compute your years of creditable service. You will know that it is complete by checking  Leave and Earnings statement. Ensure that  your paperwork is uploaded your into your electronic human resources file. 

The second is the Thrift Savings. This is a plan that matches your contribution dollar for dollar up to 4%. You can pick which fund it goes into that matches your risk level.

***The VA retirement system will not affect your military retirement, social security or and military disability that you will draw.***

In addition I believe with your 18 years of creditable service you will be placed in a higher pay grade and eligible to receive increased vacation and sick leave accumulation. Again check with your local Human Resources.

Also of note the Physician Assistants working in the VA will be going into a different pay grade system that is extremely beneficial for us. They are taking us out of the GS system and placing us in a pay system designed just for us that will make our pay more comparable to similar  health care providers in the VA system. I don't know the specifics because I haven't payed attention to it because of my impending retirement.  From what I've seen it looks more favorable then the current system.

For what its worth it is very satisfying working for the VA. The system can be cumbersome and frustrating at times. As always if you know how to navigate the system  your fine.

I have a sign on the door  that reminds me why I work at the VA. "No One Takes Better Care Of A Veteran, Then A Veteran"

Hope this helps. If you have any questions let me know.

TD

 

Perfect! That gives me more details and better information. My goal is to get a retirement check from the VA in addition to SS and my private savings.

If you don't mind me asking how much was your payback in $$ ? PM me if you don't want to say in the public forum. 

Thanks

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I believe it was close to $6500.00 for 12 years service. I elected a allotment and paid $100.00 per pay period for two years. I work in Compensation and Pension. Make sure you file for injury/illness that occurred on active duty. If you have any questions on C&P PM me. I have helped numerous Vets with their claims.

Edited by TDIowa
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