Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

When will annuity payments begin?

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Q. I plan on retiring on June 28, 2014. When should I expect my first annuity payment?

A. I can’t tell you that. What I can tell you is that you would be on the annuity roll in July, with your first month’s annuity payable on Aug. 1. Depending on much time it takes your agency to get your paperwork to OPM, you might not see your first interim payment until September. When your annuity is finalized, you’ll receive any additional money you should have received but didn’t.

When to retire on disability

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Q. I am 62 and have 7 years of service under FERS. My disabilities have worsened, and I must retire fairly soon.  I have some other income from a state pension that will help while I apply for SSDI, but I need to know when would be the best time to retire.  I do not believe my retirement will amount to more than enough to cover my life and health insurance with a little to spare according to a recent retirement estimate I received from HR.  So given that, is there a particular day of the month, being paid bi-weekly, when I should set for my retirement date? Read the rest of this entry »

VERA for 2014?

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Q. My wife is thinking of early retirement at age 50 with 22 years in. Is there any Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA) for 2014?

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Retirement date

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Q. What are the differences if my retirement date is Nov. 29, 2014, or Dec. 1, 2014? I will be retiring from the Postal Service as a Level 18 postmaster. I am retiring under CSRS. My service computation date is July 6, 1979. I will be turning 55 on Nov. 16. I have worked continuously at the Postal Service, and I have 1,848.84 hours of accumulated sick leave.

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Retirement date and leave

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Q. Can you please comment on any pros and cons to retiring Nov. 29, 2014? I will have a prior balance of 208 hours of annual leave and 192 hours in 2014 accumulated as of that date and do not want to forfeit the use-or-lose balance.

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Special retirement supplement and TSP

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Q. I am looking at retiring in January 2015. I will be 56 years old Oct. 15. I will have 30 years in as of Dec. 24. Waiting until the end of leave year to cash in all available annual leave. I am looking at cashing out my Thrift Savings Plan in a lump sum to pay off all debts. Will that income be considered part of earned income so that the special retirement supplement is reduced?

If so, would it be in my interest to retire at the end of 2014 so that my annual leave hits that year instead of 2015? I will have more than 1,800 hours of sick leave accrued by the end of 2014. Can that be used to offset the age so that I could perhaps retire earlier so that the TSP lump sum is counted in 2014?

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SRS and lump-sum payment for annual leave

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Q. Does the lump-sum payment for annual leave count against maximum earnings to be eligible for the special retirement supplement? Also, if I choose a retirement date and the application begins processing, can I back out before that date?

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First annuity check

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Q. I retired Jan. 3 from the Department of Health and Human Services/Indian Health Service with almost 45 years of service. My entrance on duty was May 3, 1969. I am covered under CSRS. I was expecting to receive my first annuity check Feb. 1. However, there was no electronic deposit in my bank account. I tried calling the Office of Personnel Management, but all I got was a busy signal. Therefore, I contacted OPM via email. I haven’t heard back from them as the automatic response I got indicated that it could take up to 30 days to respond.

I also contacted my human resources folks where I worked and was told that I was expecting too much from OPM. They indicated that OPM does their calculations in 30-day increments. Since I retired on Jan. 3, I did not meet the 30-day increment. They said that OPM would be working on my annuity during February and that I “might” receive an interim annuity check on March 1. However, they couldn’t guarantee it.

I did review the “best” date to retire and all the information I reviewed did indicate that Jan. 3 would be the “best” date to retire since I would not only get credit for the holiday but that I would also receive credit for the entire month of January. I did receive my lump-sum annual leave with my last paycheck, and this was extremely helpful. I am wondering how long I will have to wait for my first annuity check. My last earnings and leave statement indicated that my retirement data was sent to OPM on Jan. 27.

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Best retirement date

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Q. I have read a number of articles noting the best dates to retire in 2014. For example, I have seen March 22 and Dec. 28. As a GS-13 FERS employee who will have about 32 years of service at age 61 as of Dec. 28, does it really make that much of a difference to wait until Dec. 28 versus March 22 (at which time I will already be 60) in terms of my FERS annuity? I have about 1,800 hours of sick leave, have been maximizing my Thrift Savings Plan contribution most of my career, and I was eligible for buyout this past October. I’m thinking it’s time to go in 2014.

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CSRS annuity and taxes

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Q. My accountant, a CPA, has a question about the Form W-4P (withholding Certificate for Pension or Annuity Payments) where it states to put down the “additional amount, if any, you want withheld from each pension or annuity payment.” He is asking me to tell him how much of my monthly pension payment is not taxable. My human resources specialist has given me a federal retirement benefits estimate if I retire from the federal government March 3. My total CSRS annual net retirement annuity is estimated to be $128,412, and my monthly annuity after health insurance premiums are deducted is estimated to be $10,701. How much of that monthly net pension is not taxable?

It is my understanding that my cumulative CSRS retirement contributions, which are listed on my civilian leave and earnings statement are my after-tax contributions to my retirement.

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Retirement eligibility

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Q. I am a CSRS employee. If I turn 55 on. Jan 21 2015, but plan to retire Jan 3, 2015, will I be penalized for being under age 55?

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1.1 percent calculation at 62

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Q. When do you get the 1.1 percent calculation? I will turn 62 in January 2016. If I retire in February of that year, would I get the 1.1 percent, or would I have to finish out that year?

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Best retirement date

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Q. I’m a FERS employee. What would be the best date for me to retire if I turn 60 on Dec. 4, 2014? The end of December? (31st) Or wait until the end of the leave year in January 2015?

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Retirement date

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Q. I had planned to retire Dec. 28, 2014, since, in the past, I read that was the best time to retire in 2014. If I retire on Jan. 3, 2015, will I still be able to cash in all of my use-or-lose leave since the leave year for 2015 does not start until Jan. 10, 2015? What date you recommend for the overall greatest financial benefit?

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Retirement date

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Q. I’m a CSRS Offset employee. Is it better to retire on the last day of the month, or on the 1st, 2nd or 3rd?

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CSRS redeposit issue

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Q. I have received my final annuity estimate from human resources and am awaiting my final retirement date, with the Office of Personnel Management receiving all my records for a final computation. Human resources has deducted me for a nonredeposit from 1966 to 1969, for which I did terminate government service in 1969 (1966-1969). I then came back and re-employed from 1983 to the present. It’s been over 40 years, and I don’t recall filling out CSRS SF 2802 for a refund of my contribution for those three years. My notification of personnel action (SF-50) had a notation that OPM was going to pay back my accrued annual leave and no mention that I would have made an application for a refund of my contributions.

1. Would OPM still have a record if I did fill out an application for a refund in 1969?

2. Is SF-2802 required by an employee before any retirement contribution is paid out?

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Budget deal and FERS retirement

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Q. How will the signed 2014 budget deal affect FERS retirements? I will have 30 years of government service in January 2015 with my minimum retirement age. As recommended, I have had my retirement plans in place for the past 10 years. Rumors are flying that we will no longer be eligible for the special retirement supplement, which has been calculated into my retirement estimates. Being this close to retirement age, there is not enough time to make up these lost monies if they are stopped.

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SF-50s in personnel record

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Q. I am planning to retire in January. I recently reviewed my official personnel folder and discovered that a few SF-50s are missing from the file. Will this cause a problem with the Office of Personnel Management?

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Temporary time buyback

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Q. I am a FERS employee who will have 30 years of permanent GS employment in December 2015. I have six months of temporary time as a GS employee, which would move my 30 years to April 2015. Can I buy back the temporary time? If so, how do I start this process?

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Disabled dependent survivor benefit

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Q. I will be retiring in early 2014 under CSRS with a spouse and disabled son. I understand that, with proper approval from the Office of Personnel Management, my disabled son may be carried as a beneficiary for survivor benefits at no additional cost. I know that normally, if a dependent spouse predeceases the retiree, the cost of survivor benefits will no longer be deducted from the retirement annuity. Is this still true with the disabled dependent, or will I continue to pay the survivor’s benefit cost?

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