By Reg Jones
Q. I am 57, have worked for the Postal Service for 26 years, qualified for minimum retirement age last July. What circumstances for retirement would entitle me to the special retirement supplement to be paid until I am age 62? In September 2014, my office hours will be reduced to six per day and my wages will be cut. Will I be offered a reduction in force so I can retire with a supplement at that time? Or will I just have to take a cut in pay and a cut in hours and not be considered a postmaster anymore?
Q. I am nearly 48 with 23 years of service. If I were to accept a Voluntary Early Retirement Authority, if one were offered when I turned 50, other than not receiving the special retirement supplement until I reach my minimum retirement age, what benefit is there if I wait until I am 56 with 30 years of service as opposed to 50 and 25?
Q. From what I understand, the special retirement supplement is calculated as your Social Security estimated payment at age 62 divided by 40 times your number of years of service. Do you receive the full amount of Social Security when you reach age 62?
Q. I am 47 years old with 25 years and one month of service under FERS. If I accept Voluntary Early Retirement Authority, my understanding is that my monthly annuity will not be eligible for cost-of-living adjustments. Is that correct?
Also, once I reach 56 years and four months of age, the special retirement supplement would then be added until I’m age 62. Is that correct?
After age 56 years and four months, would COLAs then be applied to the annuity?
Finally, if I’m working in the private sector earning a salary above the current $14,000 Social Security limit for earnings, would the supplement be reduced $1 for every $2 I earn over the limit?
Q. I have 26 years with the Postal Service under FERS. I am 59 years old. If I retire now, am I eligible for the special retirement supplement? Or do I have to wait until I’m 60? I have not been offered early-out incentives.
Q. My understanding is that the special retirement supplement is not paid between when you stop working and when the Office of Personnel Management approves your retirement. I read this can be as long as six months. Once I am approved for retirement by OPM, I should start receiving the supplement. Is the supplement amount I receive calculated from the day I retired from the government? Will I get a large payment after OPM approves my retirement for the six months of more of payment due?
Q. I retired under law enforcement 6(c) at age 50 with 20 years of service. I am 52 years old and my minimum retirement age is 56. I am considering returning to federal employment. I know that my salary will be reduced by the amount of my annuity. I also know I can make an unlimited amount of money from now until I reach my MRA without it affecting the special retirement supplement. However, if I work past my MRA, and the supplement goes away, will my agency automatically have to give me a raise in that amount? Or is the reduction in salary only computed on the annuity portion without considering the special retirement supplement?
Q. If I retire at my minimum retirement age of 56 with 32 years of service, I would qualify for the special retirement supplement from age 56 to 62. When I turn 62 and the supplement ends, could I then decide to defer receiving Social Security until age 67 or 70, or am I committed to receiving the level of benefits I would get at age 62?
Q. I am a Defense Department civilian and have met my minimum retirement age. I will not be eligible for full retirement under FERS until September 2015.
By then, I will be 60 and will have 30 years of service.
If I accepted a VERA/VSIP (I am on the offer list), would I get hit with an annuity reduction if the offer is not the result of a reduction in force? If I could take the offer without a reduction, would I also receive the special retirement supplement?
Q. I am retiring at 57, the mandatory retirement under FERS for law enforcement. I know there is something called the first year rule; will the special retirement supplement I receive for approximately five years be subject to the earnings limit? I heard the supplement is not subject to it, but when I reach age 62 and the supplement ends, any Social Security I receive will be subject to it. Can you clarify if the supplement law enforcement officers receive under FERS if retiring at the mandatory retirement age is subject to earnings test? If so, when?
Q. At my MRA of 56 (with more than 30 years of federal service), I will be able to receive my FERS annuity, access my TSP and receive the special retirement supplement. The supplement is payable until age 62, at which time I will become eligible for Social Security.
Must I enroll in Social Security at age 62 if I’ve taken the special retirement supplement up until then? There are financial advantages to deferring Social Security. I understand the annuity will stop once I reach 62, but can I defer my Social Security to when my benefit will be greater? (I understand my overall income will drop after age 62 until I choose to start Social Security.)
Q. An employee retires in June (at age 58) and has been paid over $50,000 in wages. Will this employee be eligible for special retirement supplement payments immediately or will they be withheld until the start of the next year?
Q. I am a postal employee covered under FERS. I will have 33 years of service at my minimum retirement age in January 2016. I have a year’s worth of sick leave and hopefully this will continue to grow. In computing the special retirement supplement, will my service time include the year’s sick leave credit?
Q. I am FERS began with the Postal Service in January 1985. I bought back 3½ years of Army service (honorable). I am past my minimum retirement age but confused about the 30 years of service. To qualify for the special retirement supplement, do my military years count?
Q. In 2015, I will reach my minimum retirement age (56) with 26+ years of creditable FERS service.
If a VERA is offered any time that I’m 56 to 60 (when I will have reached full age and time requirements) would I get the special retirement supplement until age 62?
If yes, then from 56-62, I would get: FERS immediate annuity (no penalty under a VERA) Thrift Savings Plan annuity (no penalty under a VERA) special retirement supplement (under a VERA). Also during these years there is really no cost-of-living adjustment for any of the above, correct?
Also, under a VERA at age 55, for example, I could get my two immediate annuities, but the special retirement supplement would not start until age 56, correct?
Q. I took early retirement from the post office Feb. 28, 2009, with 26 years of service at age 48. Will I be eligible for supplemental income at age 56?
Q. I served five years and six months active duty in the Air Force from January 1989 to July 1994. In 1996, I joined the Air National Guard. I am in the Air Guard and have 24 years of service with eight years’ active-duty time. In 1999, I became a full-time federal law enforcement officer. In seven years, I will be 50 and have 21 years’ covered federal law enforcement. If I buy back my military time to get additional federal retirement, will I still be able to receive my military retirement at 60? Or am I better off not buying back my active-duty time? Also, how does the supplemental Social Security payment factor in until I am eligible to receive full Social Security?
Q. If I have 20 years of federal service (including more than 15 in the foreign service) but I haven’t turned 50, can I retire but defer receipt of my benefits/pension until I am eligible at age 50? For example, an employee is 47 years old and has completed 20 years of federal service. Can that employee leave the service and still receive full retirement benefits beginning at age 50?
Q. When I retire, I will be 59½ and will have 30 years of service at the Postal Service. I will not have any earned income from that point on. I understand federal and state taxes will be taken out of my FERS annuity and any money I take out of my Thrift Savings Plan. Will I also have Social Security deducted from these two sources? Also, will my special retirement supplement and — when I turn 62, my SSI benefit — also be subject to federal and state taxes?
Q. I’m about to turn 55 in May and will have 20 years at a quasi-government agency (Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.) under FERS in July. My benefit statement indicates that I am eligible for ‘Voluntary Early or Discontinued’ in July with the early retirement if my agency has authority. The agency is reorganizing and human resources advised that they have sought approval from the Office of Personnel Management to offer buyouts and were awaiting a response from OPM. But HR was not sure how selectively my agency would offer them or whether they would only be offered to specific (and rumored) departments.
1) Is the proper or formal way to make it known that I’m interested via HR, or should I just wait for a possible announcement from the agency?
2) Could you explain the FERS supplemental annuity and whether it would apply in my case and when?
3) I work as a program analyst in a department full of financial analysts, and they would love to replace my position with a financial analyst position. Is it likely the department would be amenable to qualify my position as ‘voluntary discontinued’ due to job abolishment, thereby qualifying me for the ‘voluntary discontinued’ early retirement option? If so, would it be a good idea to have them initiate the effort to qualify me for the voluntary early?