Author Topic: Any air traffic controllers here?  (Read 3447 times)

REatc

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Any air traffic controllers here?
« on: August 05, 2019, 09:30:29 AM »
Long time lurker and reader. First time making an account and posting.
Anyways, are there any air traffic controllers on here? And specifically any of which are staying the minimum 25 years for the full pension. Iíve got 21 more years to go until I qualify for the pension, and Iím finding that reality unsettling. There are many benefits to this job, and many (maybe more) cons depending who you ask, but doing the same thing for the next 21 years just to receive a pension at that time that would equate to about 30k/yr today seems silly. On my current plan, Iíll be FI in 8-9 years with my own ability to have a ďself pensionĒ for life with a 3-4% SWR. At that point with 11ish more years to a pension would it be worth it to stick it out for extra insurance? Anybody with other golden handcuff conundrums offer advice, especially for someone who is just beginning their career.

IslandFiGirl

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Re: Any air traffic controllers here?
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2019, 10:20:33 AM »
Long time lurker and reader. First time making an account and posting.
Anyways, are there any air traffic controllers on here? And specifically any of which are staying the minimum 25 years for the full pension. Iíve got 21 more years to go until I qualify for the pension, and Iím finding that reality unsettling. There are many benefits to this job, and many (maybe more) cons depending who you ask, but doing the same thing for the next 21 years just to receive a pension at that time that would equate to about 30k/yr today seems silly. On my current plan, Iíll be FI in 8-9 years with my own ability to have a ďself pensionĒ for life with a 3-4% SWR. At that point with 11ish more years to a pension would it be worth it to stick it out for extra insurance? Anybody with other golden handcuff conundrums offer advice, especially for someone who is just beginning their career.

Oh my gosh, I read your post and when you got to the part that said you have 21 more years to go I almost fainted.  :)  That's a long long LONG time to stay in a position just for a pension (and insurance), especially when you think you will hit FI in a reasonable amount of time.  I'm in a similar type job as you...high stress, people's safety in my hands, etc, and I've been doing it for 15 years and have about 15 more to go until I can retire with full benefits.  Personally, I do not think I can last another 15 in my high stress job, and i come to that conclusion because I've seen what it's done to me over the last 15 years.  Our jobs are so "important" that people expect you will be there all the time (not take any significant amount of time off) and they expect that you will work plenty of overtime because, hey, people's lives are at risk and it's your duty...after a while, you look back and realize that you ALWAYS made time for work and missed out on a lot of life.  I obviously don't know exactly what ATC is like but I can imagine it's stressful and if it were me, I'd probably look around and see what other opportunities were available and be happy in the fact that you can be FI soon'ish.  A lot of times, all it takes is one small error at work and you find yourself in a world of mess (at least in my job) and all of the sudden you're black balled and out of a job. 

Since I am at that crossroads that you asked about, I will tell you that I am very torn and really don't know what to do.  I WANT to leave badly.  I want to live and have fun and do whatever I want to do on my own schedule but the truth is that I'm scared.  The what if's are too much sometimes.  What if I calculated wrong, what if one of my kids needs something, what if I get sick and it wipes out my stash and I can never work again?  It's scary, but I think in the long run it might be worth it to just take the leap and go for it, live off the stache!  So many people on here have and reading their stories is sure encouraging!  :)  Good luck on your journey! 

fuzzy math

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Re: Any air traffic controllers here?
« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2019, 11:40:52 AM »
When you are FI and rich, you won't care about the pension and it will be easy to buy your freedom by forgoing it. If you don't make it to FI status by then, you'll be glad its there. Honestly I've never heard of such a shitty pension... I'm 2.5 years into a 5 year vesting schedule for my pension and there are days I really just hope I'll make it. I won't be FI by then, but it hurts to think of turning down other opportunities for a meager $8k a year (value at 5 yrs)

Are you a federal employee or is there an option to get a better deal at a different location?

newloginuser

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Re: Any air traffic controllers here?
« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2019, 12:23:56 PM »
You mean you don't get any pension benefits unless you stay another 21 years? That' sounds like a very sh*tty situation.

If you will be FI in 8-9 years, why not work a couple more years to give you added "insurance" instead of working another 11 or so years for the pension? I'd assume if you're FI in 9 years, working an extra 3 years for example will provide you with all the insurance you'd need.

REatc

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Re: Any air traffic controllers here?
« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2019, 04:13:55 PM »
Yea Iím federal. Work for the FAA. Iíve got to stay for the 25 years for ďfullĒ benefits (which seems insane). There might be an option for a smaller pension based on a percentage of years of service relative to the 25 years needed for full benefits. Iím not entirely sure though since everyone I work with is trying to get to 25 years of service, and doesnít even think of quitting before that point.  If thatís the case, it would be a nice buffer to my FI number Iím going to hit in 8-9 years.

Newloginuser youíre right another year or two would be plenty of buffer, itís just hard to think that far in advance since some days I just want to walk out and never return. Thinking of 520 more weeks is unimaginable at this point.

Fomerly known as something

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Re: Any air traffic controllers here?
« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2019, 06:09:28 PM »
Not ATC but a SCE Fed.  I'm at year 19, I will likely get to 25 but might change my mind tomorrow. 

Several things.

If you get to 10 years of service you get a pension at your minimum retirement age.

There is something with the pension at 5 years of service as well but I can't remember what it is.  (might be the minimum age to get anything if you come to the Feds late in life.)

Also is it the job that you aren't feeling or the location.  I know a controller in NYC is likely more stressful than one in Bozeman Montana.  What if you get promoted off the front line etc.  Things change basically even when staying in the same career.

Ocinfo

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Re: Any air traffic controllers here?
« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2019, 06:23:42 PM »
Whatís your educational background? With 5 years ATC experience, and any technical degree (or really any bachelors) you can make $100k+ at any number of government contractors.

As far as staying in the FAA, Iíd start looking for opportunities to do something other than ATC. TFM is always looking for people and itís usually a 2 year detail. Beyond that, if youíre willing to move to DC, HQ has a lot of options for former controllers to contribute to concept/requirements development, airspace redesign, etc... Thereís also the tech ops side. The pay is overall less than ATC (assuming youíre at a high level facility now) but can be a nice change of pace.


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fuzzy math

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Re: Any air traffic controllers here?
« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2019, 06:59:00 AM »
OP - it appears things are not nearly as dire as you presented in your post. Your vesting period is 5 years, and after 20 years it seems you get a bump from 1% to 1.1%... Are you really stressing over a 0.1% increase in your pension amount? That's about the price of 1 steak dinner a month

------------------------------------------------------------------

Your years of credible service are reported on the SF-50 form you receive at least once per year. Then, the agency you work for adds a 1% multiplier to your High-3. However, employees who are 62 or older with at least 20 years of service will receive a multiplier of 1.1%. The formula for the basic benefit plan is: High-3 Salary x Years of Service x Pension Multiplier = Annual Pension Benefit. If you worked for 25 years and earned $75,000 per year, your monthly payment would be around $1,560, according to the formula.

https://hr.nih.gov/benefits/retirement/fers-separation-non-retirement
Retirement Information
While covered under FERS, you paid contributions towards the Basic Benefit Plan, Social Security, and most likely the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP).

Basic Benefit Plan
If you have five or more years of creditable civilian service, you have 2 options:

Deferred annuity - Leave your money in the retirement fund and apply for a deferred annuity once you meet the age and service requirements.
If you do not file a beneficiary form (SF-3102) and die before the commencing date of your annuity, your benefits will be paid in the normal order of precedence.
Refund of retirement deductions Ė Complete an application for a refund (SF-3106). If you submit the form within 30 days of separation, return it to the Benefits Office. After 30 days, forward it to OPM at the address on the form.
If you have less than five years of creditable civilian service, your have 2 options:

Leave your money in the retirement fund if you believe you may return to the Federal Government. You may apply for a refund at any time after separation.
Refund of retirement deductions Ė Complete an application for a refund (SF-3106). If you submit the form within 30 days of separation, return it to the Benefits Office. After 30 days, forward it to OPM at the address on the form.

REatc

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Re: Any air traffic controllers here?
« Reply #8 on: August 06, 2019, 09:03:24 AM »
Its not a 0.1% difference. As an air traffic controller we fall into a special exemption category for mandatory retirement at age 56, or 25 years of service at any age. The pension is then calculated as 1.7% of first 20 years, then 1% after 20 years. So 25 years would be 39% of ďhigh threeĒ average. I make 140-150k now. I suspect and hope my salary will continue to increase each year, but for simplicity say it stops at 150k. 58,500 would be my pension starting in 2041 (wow thatís far). 58,500 in 2041 has the purchasing power of about 33k today according to inflation calculators. My FI number is 36k a year so thatís roughly the same as the pension value  in the future, but as I originally said Iím hoping to be FI in 8-9 years. I would have 11 years of service then which may give me a small pension for my vesting period apparently?. If Iím FI by that point and the small pension is a real thing I think that would be plenty buffer for me. Why work an additional 10 years if the money wonít make any difference to my spending habits or happiness?

fuzzy math

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Re: Any air traffic controllers here?
« Reply #9 on: August 06, 2019, 10:05:53 AM »
My first comment to you was of that nature - why work extra once you are FI. Your first post implied that you were unaware your pension vested before 25 yrs of service.

You have diminishing returns at 20 years of service. Hopefully you will be out long before then. Each year you work adds $2500 to your annual pension. There will come a time where your 4% from your TSP and Taxable accounts will cover you for the X number of years until your pension hits. Are you allowed an earlier pension withdrawl than standard due to the restrictions of your field?

Also - I am in an unrelated field, but use you guys as a point of reference for safety concerns on the job.
Would you be willing to share your mandated  weekly work max / mandated rest periods between shifts? Ive never gotten an opportunity to ask someone in your field. Thanks


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REatc

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Re: Any air traffic controllers here?
« Reply #10 on: August 06, 2019, 11:24:24 AM »
Yes I am/still unaware about the specifics of the pension when it comes to leaving before the 25 year mark. Sort of why I was getting at my original question. It seems like I get a reduced pension at the 5/10 year point which is cool, I wonít add it to my FI plan though. Just extra if it happens, no big deal if it doesnít.

As for schedule and rest periods we have a mandatory: 12hr break between midnight shifts, 8hr break between morning and midnight shift, and 9hr break between swing shift and morning shit. My schedule until I quit (or figure out a boondoggle) is this: Sunday 2:30pm-10:30pm, Monday 1pm-9pm, Tuesday 7am-3pm, Wednesday 5:30am-1:30pm, Wednesday 10pm-6am. I get 6am Thursday morning to Sunday at 2:30pm off every week. 3.5 days off a week, but also stay up all night once a week.

IslandFiGirl

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Re: Any air traffic controllers here?
« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2019, 11:31:09 AM »
Yes I am/still unaware about the specifics of the pension when it comes to leaving before the 25 year mark. Sort of why I was getting at my original question. It seems like I get a reduced pension at the 5/10 year point which is cool, I wonít add it to my FI plan though. Just extra if it happens, no big deal if it doesnít.

As for schedule and rest periods we have a mandatory: 12hr break between midnight shifts, 8hr break between morning and midnight shift, and 9hr break between swing shift and morning shit. My schedule until I quit (or figure out a boondoggle) is this: Sunday 2:30pm-10:30pm, Monday 1pm-9pm, Tuesday 7am-3pm, Wednesday 5:30am-1:30pm, Wednesday 10pm-6am. I get 6am Thursday morning to Sunday at 2:30pm off every week. 3.5 days off a week, but also stay up all night once a week.

I'm just curious but whyyyyyyyyyy is your schedule so jacked up?  Can they really not come up with a set schedule for each person that doesn't jerk you around on all different hours every week? 

Jon Bon

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Re: Any air traffic controllers here?
« Reply #12 on: August 06, 2019, 11:32:34 AM »
Has anyone ever stayed in a terrible job for 20 years just to get some benny at the finish line and thought it was worth it? Life is short. This is why I am against loan forgiveness as well. Not the politics in it, but the time you have to put in for something that you likely dont enjoy is not nearly worth the payoff.

I was federal for 5 years, getting out was the best decision I ever made. I am pretty much Fire now still work some because I want too.

Look around for a new gig, unless your happy with your job, gutting out another twenty-one-effing years sounds insane!


Villanelle

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Re: Any air traffic controllers here?
« Reply #13 on: August 06, 2019, 11:42:19 AM »
You might not find a lot of ATCers here, but there are plenty of people who have shed the golden handcuffs of a pension (or a large pension bump) by retiring when they had enough money.  If I recall correctly, @Nords left the military at something like 18 years, only a couple shy of a pension. 

To me, it seems your first step should be understanding your pension plan and what you would get if you left in 8 or 9 years.  Your HR department should be able to explain it to you if you can't figure it out (but half an hour or so of googling would probably be sufficient).  You can't make an educated decision until you understand that.  And since this is a ways out, unless it is going to change the choices you make for the next few years, you really can put a pin in this until you are closer to that 8-9 year mark. 

But in general, if you have enough at that point, it would be silly to put in an extra 11-12 years of work just to get more money you don't need.  And it looks like you will still get *something*, just not as much. 

REatc

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Re: Any air traffic controllers here?
« Reply #14 on: August 06, 2019, 02:46:19 PM »
IslandFiGirl: Thatís the schedule basically every controller works across the country. Times may vary by an hour or so but itís the same concept. The only way you get out of working a mid your entire career and having a ďnormalĒ schedule is change to a facility that is closed on mids or you find a boondoggle. Iím not willing to take a 50%+ pay cut especially now in my career to not work mids, but the ability of the government to allow so many boondoggles is amazing. I think I may have to figure one out. One thing I do know is the lifestyle of the controller ages you faster than another career I believe. I see controllers who are in my future hypothetical golden handcuff situation that are gutting it out for the pension and it effects them physically. Iíll be FI by that time though. Everyone who is 40 looks 50, and the ďold timersĒ who are 50+ look like my parents who are 60. 25 years of the rattler schedule is terrible for your health I have deducted. I donít want to be in their position of needing money which is how Iíve discovered FI.

I do believe once I hit my imaginary number in my head Iíll turn in my badge. The people I work around are some of the most intense and content people Iíve ever met. Itís interesting day to day what will happen, but one thing Iíve noticed is not one person is motivated for anything. Iíve always been a goal oriented and bar setting/breaking person. This government gig I find is killing my hunger softly. One thing that does motivate me is not wanting to be like others I work with financially, physically, emotionally. There are too many pros and cons about the job to list (unless someone is super curious), but for now I am am super focused about my FI goals and ignore the rest.

Gronnie

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Re: Any air traffic controllers here?
« Reply #15 on: August 06, 2019, 04:41:35 PM »
Just because it's that way doesn't mean it should be that way.

Why the heck can't they just have people working straight days, evenings, or nights? Pay evenings a bit more than days, and nights a bit more still. If they can't get enough people to work evenings or nights, then do it by seniority and as days open up people can move into those shifts.

Changing hours like that all the time has to be super hard on people.

kimmarg

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Re: Any air traffic controllers here?
« Reply #16 on: August 07, 2019, 06:01:02 AM »
Yea Iím federal. Work for the FAA. Iíve got to stay for the 25 years for ďfullĒ benefits (which seems insane). There might be an option for a smaller pension based on a percentage of years of service relative to the 25 years needed for full benefits. Iím not entirely sure though since everyone I work with is trying to get to 25 years of service, and doesnít even think of quitting before that point.  If thatís the case, it would be a nice buffer to my FI number Iím going to hit in 8-9 years.

Newloginuser youíre right another year or two would be plenty of buffer, itís just hard to think that far in advance since some days I just want to walk out and never return. Thinking of 520 more weeks is unimaginable at this point.

Given you're 4 years in you're on the FERS pension system. Read the fine print. There *is* a deferred retirement option so you don't get nothing if you don't stay the full time. It is true you need to stay until the end for health insurance.  https://www.opm.gov/retirement-services/fers-information/types-of-retirement/#url=Early-Retirement

Are you Enroute or tower? I bid for ATC on one of the public bids, took the test, scored in low-mid 90s then picked my two locations (blind no telling you what's open).... and never heard back. :(  Still think Traffic Management Unit would be awesome. I"m in a different Federal agency now and I'm over the age limit to get into ATC.

kimmarg

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Re: Any air traffic controllers here?
« Reply #17 on: August 07, 2019, 06:04:47 AM »
Yes I am/still unaware about the specifics of the pension when it comes to leaving before the 25 year mark. Sort of why I was getting at my original question. It seems like I get a reduced pension at the 5/10 year point which is cool, I wonít add it to my FI plan though. Just extra if it happens, no big deal if it doesnít.

As for schedule and rest periods we have a mandatory: 12hr break between midnight shifts, 8hr break between morning and midnight shift, and 9hr break between swing shift and morning shit. My schedule until I quit (or figure out a boondoggle) is this: Sunday 2:30pm-10:30pm, Monday 1pm-9pm, Tuesday 7am-3pm, Wednesday 5:30am-1:30pm, Wednesday 10pm-6am. I get 6am Thursday morning to Sunday at 2:30pm off every week. 3.5 days off a week, but also stay up all night once a week.

innnnntttteeerrrreeesssttting. I work rotating shift too but we do closer to 5 day, 2 off, 5 swing, 2 off, 5 mids, 2 off with a few sets of 6 thrown in to waterfall the days off. We're in the middle of a local union fight over maybe going to more mids in a row less often. You guys have a great union. use it to discuss other schedule options!

partgypsy

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Re: Any air traffic controllers here?
« Reply #18 on: August 07, 2019, 06:47:45 AM »
Its not a 0.1% difference. As an air traffic controller we fall into a special exemption category for mandatory retirement at age 56, or 25 years of service at any age. The pension is then calculated as 1.7% of first 20 years, then 1% after 20 years. So 25 years would be 39% of ďhigh threeĒ average. I make 140-150k now. I suspect and hope my salary will continue to increase each year, but for simplicity say it stops at 150k. 58,500 would be my pension starting in 2041 (wow thatís far). 58,500 in 2041 has the purchasing power of about 33k today according to inflation calculators. My FI number is 36k a year so thatís roughly the same as the pension value  in the future, but as I originally said Iím hoping to be FI in 8-9 years. I would have 11 years of service then which may give me a small pension for my vesting period apparently?. If Iím FI by that point and the small pension is a real thing I think that would be plenty buffer for me. Why work an additional 10 years if the money wonít make any difference to my spending habits or happiness?

You answered your own question. It is not worth it to you.

Jon Bon

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Re: Any air traffic controllers here?
« Reply #19 on: August 07, 2019, 10:57:07 AM »
I missed the part about your salary. In all seriousness, if you work another 21 freaking years making 150k per year to get your pension I hope MMM comes and facepunches you himself!

Your job is awesome, you should be able to FIRE in 8-10 years EASILY if that is what you want to do. Do not get stuck with OMY and Golden Handcuffs!


Nords

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Re: Any air traffic controllers here?
« Reply #20 on: August 07, 2019, 07:02:19 PM »
You might not find a lot of ATCers here, but there are plenty of people who have shed the golden handcuffs of a pension (or a large pension bump) by retiring when they had enough money.  If I recall correctly, @Nords left the military at something like 18 years, only a couple shy of a pension. 
Thanks for the tag, Villanelle!

To be clear, my spouse left military active duty just short of 18 years and then did another 7.5 in the Reserves.  She worked full-time until age 39 and then part-time (ďone weekend a month, two weeks a yearĒ).  Sheíll start her Reserve pension at age 60.

I did 20 years of active duty and retired at age 41.  My active-duty pension started the day I retired.

Because I stayed to 20 (out of ignorance and fear), we way overshot the mark on FI and have far more assets than we need.  If I had resigned from active duty in 1999 when we reached FI and weíd lived off only our assets at the 4% SWR, then we would have been fine.  Instead today we have at least $2M more than we need.  Work did not exactly suck for my final three years, but Iíll never get back those years.

Long time lurker and reader. First time making an account and posting.
Anyways, are there any air traffic controllers on here? And specifically any of which are staying the minimum 25 years for the full pension. Iíve got 21 more years to go until I qualify for the pension, and Iím finding that reality unsettling. There are many benefits to this job, and many (maybe more) cons depending who you ask, but doing the same thing for the next 21 years just to receive a pension at that time that would equate to about 30k/yr today seems silly. On my current plan, Iíll be FI in 8-9 years with my own ability to have a ďself pensionĒ for life with a 3-4% SWR. At that point with 11ish more years to a pension would it be worth it to stick it out for extra insurance? Anybody with other golden handcuff conundrums offer advice, especially for someone who is just beginning their career.
Iím not willing to take a 50%+ pay cut especially now in my career to not work mids, but the ability of the government to allow so many boondoggles is amazing. I think I may have to figure one out. One thing I do know is the lifestyle of the controller ages you faster than another career I believe. I see controllers who are in my future hypothetical golden handcuff situation that are gutting it out for the pension and it effects them physically. Iíll be FI by that time though. Everyone who is 40 looks 50, and the ďold timersĒ who are 50+ look like my parents who are 60. 25 years of the rattler schedule is terrible for your health I have deducted. I donít want to be in their position of needing money which is how Iíve discovered FI.

I do believe once I hit my imaginary number in my head Iíll turn in my badge. The people I work around are some of the most intense and content people Iíve ever met. Itís interesting day to day what will happen, but one thing Iíve noticed is not one person is motivated for anything. Iíve always been a goal oriented and bar setting/breaking person. This government gig I find is killing my hunger softly. One thing that does motivate me is not wanting to be like others I work with financially, physically, emotionally. There are too many pros and cons about the job to list (unless someone is super curious), but for now I am am super focused about my FI goals and ignore the rest.
REatc, if you havenít already posted at Early-Retirement.org you might find some air traffic controllers over there.  I seem to remember at least one going through a similar discussion, and they may be FI by now.

I get this pension question all the time from military families, and you seem to have figured out one answer:  8-9 more years until FI, then quit and donít worry about the pension. 

Another answer would be a career change.  The advantage of the career change would be finding something you enjoy more, and if you make more money at it then you reach FI faster.  If you donít make more at it then... at least your quality of life is better.

In my opinion, if you stay in the ATC job then it might be ďbanging your head against the wall, but it feels so good when you stopĒ.  Itís the difference between a scarcity mentality and an abundance mentality.  Itís difficult to switch from scarcity (ďIíll stay with the job I dislike because the pay is reliableĒ) to abundance (ďBetter jobs are out there and I have enough assets to afford the switch.Ē).

Iíd suggest that you take it one term of service at a time.  (If you're not obligated to a term, then until you've built a transition fund.)  Stay on the job as long as itís challenging & fulfilling, but when the fun stops then itís time for a career change.  Thereís no reason to stay in any job just to make it to the pension, and thatís especially the case when youíll be FI long before you vest (let alone start) the pension.

The military version of that is ďdonít gut it out to 20Ē.
https://the-military-guide.com/dont-gut-20-leave-active-duty-reserves-national-guard/

Fomerly known as something

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Re: Any air traffic controllers here?
« Reply #21 on: August 08, 2019, 11:57:21 AM »
One thing I'll add to the discussion.  If I were in your shoes, I'd likely have a hard problem thinking about 21 more years in your job or mine.  In fact, at times I have a hard time with the fact I've got 6 more years in my 25 years for my SCE job.  But in reality, overall I'm still good with my job this month, I likely will be ok with it next month, when/if I get to the point where I'm not, then I worry about it. 

I'm FI with having to make some difficult financial decisions if I were going to quit today.  I'm not ready to trade off extra luxuries for saying goodbye to my government job.  I'm not gutting it out for the pension per say but for additional income that I currently want.  If the scales tip to where I want more time than money I'm gone.

waffles

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Re: Any air traffic controllers here?
« Reply #22 on: August 08, 2019, 09:29:41 PM »
Just saw this post. I am retired ATC now, retired about 5 weeks ago! I did make it to almost 28 years, but I was very much DONE.

I worked that familiar 2 swings 2 days 1 mid schedule for a very long time. I was doing okay for about 25 years, seeing other controllers trying to get MRA+30 and getting retirement extensions to keep working (hard to staff facility). I figured I would stay until forced out at 56. When I became eligible to retire after 25 years, I suddenly realized I had no idea how retirement worked! So I started researching online, and found JL Collins stock series and this site and forums. The concept of retirement being a financial number and not an age was astonishing. (Okay, so I grew up with pretty much no financial education.)

Just a couple of months after becoming eligible for retirement, it was like a switch flipped one day. I didn't want to do ATC any more. I tried to transfer to another position (flow control) but my area was considered critically staffed so they would not release me. By then, I had figured out I was FI so I retired instead ;-).

I did stay for the immediate pension at retirement...but it was because I didn't know any better, and not so much a conscious choice. I was conditioned to think of 65 as "normal" retirement age, so "getting" to retire at 56 when forced out seemed luxuriously early! And I saw very few coworkers leaving before 56, so essentially I just put my head down and kept working.

So, good for you for being aware of your FIRE options, and working to make your best financial future! I completely understand why you have doubts of making to to 25 years. I think I stayed about a year too long, but retirement is great! I miss some coworkers but I don't miss the work one bit.

REatc

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Re: Any air traffic controllers here?
« Reply #23 on: August 09, 2019, 11:57:43 AM »
waffles: Good to see there is at least 1 other ATC here. Sounds like you were at a center, I am as well. A couple things Iím curious about are: how do you think youíve held up physically after 20+ years of mids, did the pension make you FI alone or TSP balance plus investments made you close and the pension confirmed FI, and how much in taxes (if any) get taken out if the pension.
I know for me in my few years of mids so far they are hit or miss. Sometimes I feel great and can get through no problem, other times it gets to me pretty bad and I drag ass the next day. I know for me I try and get 4-5 hours of sleep after the mid, then go to the gym to reset my body a little bit. Do you have any tricks you used to use?

waffles

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Re: Any air traffic controllers here?
« Reply #24 on: August 09, 2019, 08:21:21 PM »
Yep, I worked at a center. As far as mids go, I found what worked for me was to try to sleep 5pm-8pm after the day shift, eat dinner, go work the mid. After the mid, I would go home and sleep about 4 hours and I was pretty good to go. If I didn't sleep after the mid, I was okay until about 7pm but then became non-functional lol. But if my last shift of the week was a day shift instead of a mid, I was up by 4:15am to get in on time, and after working a full shift I was pretty useless the rest of the day. Overall I slightly preferred mids, I liked the quiet non-drama shift over a busy day shift! Physically, I think 20+ years of mids was slightly less harmful than so many years of sitting on my butt in a chair in front of a scope...but neither is especially healthy. The research on variable-shift work and health is kind of scary. I am glad I left at 52!

As far as pensions, by itself it would be a bit thin to live on but FERS expects you to use TSP funds to supplement. I have been 90% in C fund for just about my whole career, and the last few years 80% C, 20% S. So my TSP is pretty healthy, and I certainly need less than a 4% WR to round out the pension. I am STILL so thankful to the older controller who told me early on, "Put your money in the C fund and don't look at it". So I have spent the last couple of years pestering the young developmentals about their TSP funds! Also, there is the social security bridge until age 62 (unless the gov't takes it away!).

If you want more specific numbers, PM me and I am willing to share.

As far as taxes, I have set it to single and 0 for federal withholding for now, and I just moved to a non-income tax state. I have only received one payment so far, and that is just a % of my expected final amount. They say it will likely take 6-8 months before OPM finishes all the calculations to arrive at the final annuity amount. So, I don't know yet! But you can set the withholding just like when you are working.

I think you underestimate the pension you will get after 25 years, but it does somewhat depend on your locality pay and future raises. The percentage is right, but I would think your base will go up more than you stated. The current contract has some raises in addition to any yearly government increases. This is not to persuade you to stay! I just think your numbers are overly pessimistic.

Also, how did you get Crew 6 already? :-) I am kind of amazed. Fri-Sat off was by far the most popular schedule in my area and you had to have a lot of seniority to get it.


REatc

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Re: Any air traffic controllers here?
« Reply #25 on: August 10, 2019, 01:40:32 AM »
Sitting. That is another thing I forgot about. Iíve noticed already Iím starting to get a mildly irritated back after my shift is over on most days. It could be from heavy squats and deadlifts from the gym, but sitting in a chair for 4-5 hours a day canít help it either. Iíve recently started to take walks on my breaks to relief some tightness and tension I get. Seems to help, along with laying horizontal on a couch.

Iíve got my TSP set to 50%C 50%S. Should be good enough for me I believe.

And I ďluckedĒ out with my RDOs. 3 people from the crew just changed jobs. 1 admin, 1 retired, 1 became a sup. The days were open and no one else wanted them for whatever reason, so me low man on the totem pole got it haha.

 

Wow, a phone plan for fifteen bucks!