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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
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    Retirement and Benefits (Overall)

    I apologize to ATF SAC and other members for my previous threads containing overwhelming questions.

    I have taken the advice and I have targeted all the career choices to a question concerning retirements and benefits.

    As an overall (not specific occupations or non-traditional), Out of all these, which get the worst and the best benefits/retirement packages: LEO/SWAT, FBI, Hostage Rescue Team (primarily ones that get deployed world-wide), or the military (specifically Navy Seals).

    I apologize if this is too big of a question as well, I have researched their retirement packages but I am too young to understand their complications and the actual use of their values. Could anybody who has knowledge on benefits and retirement assist me? I also understand that pay addresses the retirement as for the military you get a % of your best pays, that is why I stated overall which helps the most and least (percentage wise and base pay).

  2. #2
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    You're still a little too big in scope, but getting there. Let's see if we can narrow it some more. When you ask about comparing best and worst retirements for LEO/SWAT for example you are asking about retirement and benefits packages for something over 18,000 Federal, State and local police and sheriff's departments whose benefits and retirement systems can vary widely. Even within a particular local system or agency, depending on your rank and years of service the total of retirement will vary. Only way for you to approach it is to do a crosswalk of what is offered when you get to the point where you are looking at a specific list of agencies that interest you.

    As I responded to one of your closed posts, there is not a separate retirement track for folks on special teams, so you can just focus on the agency or organization benefits and retirement packages. A minor exception may be that some units may receive some incremental pay adjustment (uniform or equipment allowance) which would benefit pay slightly but may or may not figure into retirement.

    Things get a lot simpler when you look at military and Federal retirement because the systems are uniform. Here again, the retirement is not different for a member of the HRT than it is for any other FBI agent and the FBI retirement is the same as it is for any other 1811 special agent across the alphabet soup of government. Federal LEO retirement is different from the general Federal retirement primarily only due to two factors. You can retire younger with no loss of benefits and your Law Enforcement Availability Pay is counted in your salary.

    I found this unofficial guide by doing what you need to be doing, which is google Federal Law Enforcement Retirement. http://www.fleoa.org/downloads/FERSG...T%20v8%201.pdf.
    As you can see, there are a lot of moving parts, but in general Federal LEO retirement is considered a good deal and most folks find it sufficient to stay for a career. FERS by the way is the Federal Employee Retirement System.

    I'll leave you to search U.S. Military Retirement on your own.

    Both U.S. Military and Federal Civilian Retirement (LEO and non-LEO) begin by computing your highest pay for 3 years. Typically, these should be your last 3 years of service. Here again, there will be differences based on your pay level (rank and grade) at time of retirement. As a civilian Fed you will get a percent of the average of those high 3. This is called the defined benefit. Right now that would be about 34 to 40% of that high 3 average for most folks. You will also have what you have saved in your Thrift Savings Plan and a social security supplement until you reach social security age. Out of that you will pay for your share of carrying your health insurance into retirement as well as things like dental, health and life insurance. Here again what you earn, where you earn it (remember that Fed salaries are adjusted for localities and that adjustment counts toward the high 3), how aggressively you used the TSP are all variables that only you can compute for yourself.


    There is no way to simplify all of this, although this link to the FBI website does provide a good summary: https://www.fbijobs.gov/33.asp. Again, what is true for the FBI is generally true for all Federal criminal investigators.

    This topic also requires a caveat. What is true today may not be the same when you are actually applying. Do a google search on public employee pensions and you will quickly see that there are significant challenges particularly at State and local levels with funding current benefits and numerous "reform" efforts. Reform efforts generally fall in the bucket of cutting benefits or increasing employee contributions. It's smart to be thinking about what you may get out of a career long commitment, but you really won't know for sure what that is until you look at it when you are actually applying.

    As you focus on a particular path, you'll be better able to sort through the complexities of all of this since there is no mega comparison chart.
    Last edited by ATF SAC; 12-31-2014 at 15:30.
    ret.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
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    1,941
    OP: In simplistic terms you have non-military, pure FERS based retirement (check OPM, etc sites) and military based retirement. Note that both are members of Thrift Savings Plan.

    Within "non-military" you have "6(c)" (law enforcement) retirement and non 6(c). If you are a federal employee, you are either 6(c) or are not. A very broad statement is that Border Patrol Agents, 1811 Special Agents, and some 1801's such as Deportation Officers, are 6(c). I believe Air Traffic Controllers are also 6(c) as are some federal forest firefighters. If you are NOT one of the above, or closely "almost" one of the above, you are unlikely 6(c).

    I am not sure what is "better" (mil versus non-mil retirement) but I can tell you one thing, since I started Border Patrol at age 23, I can retire "at any age with 25 years of 6c" so at age 48 I am walking out the door. My prior military buddies do not have that option to my knowledge, and I will wish them well at continued all hands meetings and continued duty agent rotations while I walk out the door.

    Also, every year past Year-20 adds 1% to your retirement calculation. So a GS-13 who elects to work one more year (and deal with TDY's, begging/requesting leave on Christmas, missing kids soccer games), etc will likely add a whopping $1200 (assuming 120,000 annual income) to his retirement.

    Good Luck
    Last edited by satpak77; 12-31-2014 at 12:02.

  4. #4
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    Kind of a related issue. We see a number of posts where folks work out what the gross pay will be when they start. Obviously with taxes, retirement contribution, TSP, insurance, etc., the net will be less. I ran across this link, which slightly out of date, explains what appears on a Federal pay stub. With a little work, should be able to work out a pretty fair estimate of what actually goes into the bank account every two weeks: How Do I Read a Federal Pay Check Stub? | eHow
    Last edited by ATF SAC; 12-31-2014 at 16:22.
    ret.

  5. #5
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    Nov 2014
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    Thank you both for your replies, I greatly do appreciate the patience everyone has given me on this forum. Before we get down to seriousness, I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year.

    Now onto the serious stuff... As far as benefits/pay goes, I would also like to know what stops your occupation. For FBI would it just be age and for military I guess age (but really PTS)?

    Currently my career plans are set on either FBI's NCAVC Unit or Navy Seals. If anybody could tell me key differences in the jobs, it would help my decision making process. I am currently on a 11-month deadline and want to act asap. I want to try to help/protect as many lives as possible but I am stuck on the concept of "if I join the military, I won't have too big of an impact within the States; however, if I join the FBI, I won't be able to protect the States." I know I will have to sacrifice some things that the other career will hold, but I want my regrets restricted and I don't know how many individuals it will take for me to fill successful.

  6. #6
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    Nov 2014
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    Redefining my thoughts and concerns, I believe I would be seeking challenge and flexibility. As in, I want to help individuals all-around (physically, emotionally, and financially) but also have room to try new things and improve a multitude of skills and mindsets.

    Now this is going to be on a life-long career decision, so really no career jumping (except for the stages to becoming an 1811 [Police Officer>?Possible SWAT?>FBI>FBI NCAVC]). So for SEALS my career will be primarily focused around SEAL-work (training, learning languages, staying above requirements, deployment, rinse & repeat); and for FBI it would be along the lines of be assigned a case, research everything involved, get everyone updated and cooperative, try and solve the case, re-evaluate the case, and learn from it.

    BUT with the FBI path, because it is such a ladder-based career due to age requirements, I have some flexibility in case I do not wish to pursue that career and can basically work with the FBI or another federal agency yet do a similar job. As opposed to the military would be a one-destination path (focusing strictly on SEALS, not switching to other military occupations).

    Am I correct in anyway? I am just trying to wrap my head around things as precise as can be.

    Happy New Year again.

  7. #7
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    Oct 2004
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    Hot dang...I made the medal stand...
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    The zeal...

    Quote Originally Posted by This User View Post
    Am I correct in anyway? I am just trying to wrap my head around things as precise as can be.
    Its nice you are a planner...as an old, eligible to retire, impatient type...I'm a planner who shutters at time spent considering frivolity...

    Here is the order of how you must perform now to obtain what you seek...

    Step 1. Choose two or three from Urdu, Pashtun, Arabic, Russian, French and become a native speaker.

    Step 2. Obtain at least a post graduate degree in engineering, accounting, law, computer science, biology, or math.

    Step 3. Pursue additional applicable skill sets like flying aircraft, locksmithing, finance, inner city outreach.

    Step 4. Don't get arrested while accomplishing 1 or 2 or 3 above.

    While achieving advanced practice in 1 through 4 above, begin application processes and prepare to wait in line for several years because:

    1. The government doesn't care about your 11 month timeline.

    2. You will be competing against multiple applicants that can do some, most, or all of the above.

    3. The government doesn't fund its hiring logically.

    The zeal is warming to experience but a mentor needs to offer you some time to explain life, the processes involved, and the skill sets you must master to even make it to the interview where they tell you that you have more work to do on how you present yourself because you have only been focusing on obtaining particular skill sets...

    It takes zeal to master these skill sets...CC
    "Every hero becomes a bore at last." Ralph Waldo Emerson

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
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    Texas
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    Thank you CC. I am on the steps you have provided, but I wanted more details along the lines.

    Besides books, where else can I find any references/"mentors?"

  9. #9
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    Oct 2004
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    Hot dang...I made the medal stand...
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    PM me and I'll be glad to respond.
    "Every hero becomes a bore at last." Ralph Waldo Emerson

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Atlanta, GA
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    This User, it's time to go back to some basics with you. You joined us back in November, apparently as an undergraduate student. Nothing wrong with either being young or trying on various futures to see how they fit. Nor is it wrong to have goals and plans. However, if you thank us for our patience, we need to call out to you that patience is a virtue that you need to develop. Currently, you are asking us to compare and contrast the SEALS and the FBI NCVAC. Frankly, they are so entirely different most of us wouldn't know where to begin, even those of us with both law enforcement and special warfare experience.

    However, it is possible to begin here. As a 20 year old undergraduate, you have plenty of time to read everything ever written about the FBI. Nothing you can do in 11 months will even make you eligible to apply (23 minimum age) and probably 25 to 30 before you build up the particular skills and experience that the FBI is recruiting. Even then, you are probably a number of years of experience and training as an agent before assignment to a special team or the NCVAC is something you can seek. From where you are now, your only path is to look at those qualifications for the FBI and set yourself on a path of learning and experience to minimally qualify for consideration. No point in wondering about the retirement benefits of a job you don't even qualify to be considered for.

    You can do the military by close of business today if you so desire. Apparently, it is possible to approach it as a potential SEAL candidate with a recruiter or to test in boot camp. And if you can measure up, apparently they do assign a mentor. Just be thoughtful of the downside. If you don't make it (and few who try do), you're not just going to say "Oh, well" and move along. The Navy has lots of interesting things for you to do with the next 4 years of your life and you'll do them and well enough to earn an honorable discharge or you can take both the SEALS and the FBI off your potential career list.

    Rather than ask us what really are crystal ball questions (What path should I take?), you need to look at the qualifications for the things you are interested in and answer a question for yourself. Do you really meet those standards and if not, what do you need to do to measure up? It's a wonderful goal to want to serve; but no amount of wanting is going to overcome not meeting the requirements.

    We have been patient here, but last call out for you. Review the board rules and discipline yourself to stay within them.
    Last edited by ATF SAC; 01-02-2015 at 13:09.
    ret.

  11. #11
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    Nov 2014
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
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    Yes I understand AFT SAC, but the 11 month deadline is for me to become an early bird... as in I can start Police Academy when im 20 and 1/2 (in 11 months) and then get my 3 year Police Officer requirement to applying at the FBI so when I do hit 23 years of age I can apply. While my application is be in processed for the next few years, I would be investigating homicides, rapes, kidnappings, missing persons, and cold cases for potential psychological skill sets in my own interest on MO's. Then after that is just my own preference of how and what to do, stay in FBI 1811 or join their behavioral/NCAVC.

    On the other hand I can join Seals even today as it is 17-34 age requirements, but I would like a few months to completely decide and not rush into it and find out it is not my ultimate commitment and have doubt. Doubt in my mind would bring death to my team, and that's is not an option for me!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
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    7,369
    My quick take is you need to take a look at the realities of the different career paths you are considering, because from this thread you don't have even a basic grasp on any of them. The main thing is that minimum requirements are just that, and the more competitive the position the higher the actual requirements end up being. Average age for an FBI new hire is somewhere around 32, which should tell you something about the experience and skills most are bringing to the table. Some get hired younger and I have met a few who got on close to 23, but they are few and far between.

    On the police side, in most departments you aren't going to be investigating any major cases or any cases beyond taking the initial report for at least 3 years, more likely 5-10. Patrol is great experience and will make you a better investigator, but you should not expect to be investigating rapes or murders until you have about 10 years or more on the job in most places. Usually you have to make detective first and work property crimes, dope or similar before you move into crimes against persons.

    ATF SAC hit on the challenges when it comes to the SEAL route. If that is the only thing you want to do in the Navy, then the potential downside may make for a long four year enlistment if you are unable to complete training. And that isn't just about your will and desire, and even fitness level. I've known some very good people who were washed out simply because their bodies worked against them despite being physically capable of meeting every challenge.

  13. #13
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    Feb 2002
    Location
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    Ah, we're finally down to something like a question with an answer, although you had to hijack your own thread to get there. Let me summarize your plan as you have described it over several threads and posts. You are an undergraduate student with a hand full of credits to your bachelor's degree, probably a freshman or sophomore. In 11 months, you plan to apply to be a full time police officer. Somehow, in the following 3 years you plan to both complete your degree, file an application with the FBI and while it is pending gain investigative skills across a wide spectrum of criminal offenses.

    Implicit in this is the question, "Do you have a workable plan?" The answer is no. Have I mentioned patience and understanding the qualifications? I think so.

    To qualify for the FBI you must have completed your Bachelor's as described on their webpage. To qualify under the Law Enforcement/Investigative Experience group in addition to the BA/BS you will have to show (direct from their webpage):
    Law Enforcement or Other Investigative Experience
    To qualify for the Law Enforcement Critical Skill, a candidate must have at least two years of full-time investigative experience in a law enforcement agency.
    That is a requirement you will have to have completed before your application, not while it is pending for x number of years.

    I'll leave aside the relative improbability that you can complete your degree and work full time as a police officer by 23. Maybe you can. But I can address what you can expect as a police officer. You can expect to complete the academy and field training in your first year or so. You can expect to work your shifts and answer calls for service for several years after that. Some of those calls will be to the kinds of crimes you describe, but you will not be investigating them. Maybe after 4 or 5 years you might get a chance at an investigative position. Early on that will not be homicide or kidnapping depending on the department you work for. Generally, those are in units or at least cases where experienced detectives get assigned, but you can do some math here. Sometime after 23 you might be in a position to start on the 2 years of investigative experience that you will need to at least have your FBI application processed. And that is minimally qualified at best, not really notably qualified or reasonably competitive. In sum, your plan only works when lengthen the time line out to somewhere between age 25 and 30.

    You've actually gotten this answer before, so I'm recommending that you spend less time asking questions and more time reading agency threads, the stickies, and looking at what the agencies actually post as requirements. You need to rework your plan (and stop watching Criminal Minds)
    Last edited by ATF SAC; 01-02-2015 at 15:37.
    ret.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    112
    You're right. I need to rework everything and settle down on watching Criminal Minds. Least of all, I did learn some valuable information off the thread. Thank you to everyone who posted.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Dallas, TX
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    This User,

    I'm going to add my $.02 to the thread since I see a large amount of similarities in our paths (however unreasonable as I will explain). I too was a young person once, age 17 to be exact, and just knew I wanted to be a forensic psychologist for the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit (as it was called back then). This was after one too many reruns of the Silence of the Lambs! So I joined the military, US Army to be exact, for a five year enlistment as an MP. I figured that gives me an extra year to get that BS in psychology and 5 years experience being a "cop". How could the FBI pass me up after that?!?

    Problem is, the unit I was sent to after basic training (where I was taught that blood makes the grass grow), was going through some growing pains due to some pretty serious criminal issues within the unit. See, this was the largest MP Company in the Army and therefore, promotions were few and far between. Since the work was physical security and not patrol work (read the fine print in the MOS description), the soldiers had a lot of free time and became very competitive in the only area they could excel...physical fitness. So began the illegal treks to Mexico for entire platoons to buy illegal steroids. Enter my entire graduating class of brand spanking new MP's. So now we have 40+ new soldiers, all on the exact same promotion timeline, competing for the 3-4 slots available each quarter. And no "real cop" work to be found.

    I ended up reenlisting just to get 4 months "off" to attend college as my pipe dream of earning a degree during my initial enlistment slipped further and further away. I ultimately left military service after 7 years, 2.5 of which I would consider true "cop work", in order to get my undergraduate degree. I was blessed to earn my BS within 4 years of leaving the Army and subsequently finished my MBA within 10 years. I was lucky to be at the perfect place at the perfect time and qualified to become an 1811 under the Outstanding Scholar Program (which no longer exist) and got hired on 10 years ago. Following hiring trends for the past 10 years and especially the past 3, this is one of the hardest fields to get into and your timeline will never match that of reality.

    The moderators have given you a ton of good advice. Let it all sink in for a while and then start making a plan. As noted above, top three things to do...Get a degree, don't get involved on the wrong side of the law and find something you are passionate about, not what sounds cool. If you love your job and that job happens to line up with some sort of 1811 or Military career, great! If not, you still love your job. Good luck.


 

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