What Happens to Your Benefits if You Return to Federal Service?

by | May 19, 2017

Last Updated August 31, 2022

benefitsYesterday, we looked at what happens to your benefits when you leave federal service before becoming eligible for retirement. This post will look at what happens to your benefits if you leave federal service, and then return to federal service. The following apply assuming you return to a permanent position.

You can continue or enroll in all the benefits that you are eligible for—health insurance, life insurance, etc.

Health Benefits

If you were covered under FEHB right up until the day you left and you picked it back up immediately upon returning to federal service, your coverage is considered “continuous”. This is especially important for meeting the 5-year requirement for carrying FEHB into your retirement.

FEGLI

If you had this coverage before resigning and your break was less than 180 days, you’ll be enrolled in the FEGLI coverage you had when you left and you won’t have the opportunity to elect any other coverage. Contrary, if the break was more than 180 days, you’ll be enrolled in the FEGLI coverage you had, but you can also elect other coverage.

Sick Leave

Any sick leave you had the time of separation will be re-credited to you. You will also begin earning annual leave based on your length of service, including service you had before leaving.

Thrift Savings Plan

Once you return to federal service you can resume contributions to your TSP, although you can’t recontribute any TSP funds you withdrew after resigning. If you rolled money over from your TSP to another qualified plan, you can roll that account into your TSP.

Retirement System

If you were in the FERS retirement system, you will return to that system. If you had less than 5 years of creditable civilian service at the time of your separation, you would contribute 4.4 percent (4.9 percent if you are returning to a position covered by special provisions for law enforcement officers and firefighters) of your salary to the FERS system regardless of how much you contributed when you left.

On the other hand, if you had 5 or more years of creditable civilian service at the time you left, you would contribute at the same rate you were doing so before.

The following will apply if you were under the CSRS retirement system when you resigned (rare since most CSRS employees are eligible for retirement):

  • If your break in service was more than 365 days, you will be required to be covered by Social Security upon your return. You will also have to choose between CSRS Offset and FERS.
  • If your break was more than 3 days but less than 365, you will have the option to elect FERS coverage.
  • Finally, if you were under CSRS Offset when you left and chose to elect FERS when returning, all previous CSRS Offset will be treated as FERS service for retirement purposes.

You can also re-deposit any CSRS or FERS retirement contributions you withdrew when you resigned.

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