By Reg Jones
Q. What is the definition of substantial earnings for purposes of the 30-year contribution requirement to eliminate any windfall elimination provision setoff?
Q. How much notice do I have to give Social Security before I apply? I will be 62 in June. Do I have to give them 90 days’ notice? I plan on retiring in October.
Q. Please define “30 years of substantial earnings.”
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 am a rehired CSRS annuitant paying both CSRS and the Office of Access and Services for Individuals with Disabilities (Social Security). What is the percentage withheld for each? And what does this do for me? Will my annuity be reduced when I turn 62? I can’t collect Social Security, can I?
Q. I am a 66-year-old CSRS employee still working. Can I draw Social Security on my wife’s Social Security? She is a 70-year-old retired FERS employee.
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 trying to understand the FERS disability retirement. My wife has 34 years of federal service but has not reached her MRA. I understand the high-3 and 60 percent the first year and then the 40 percent rule after 12 months and how it affects Social Security. If she applies now for FERS disability retirement and is approved, can she then go to Social Security and apply for her full disability entitlement? Also, if she receives her Social Security 100 percent disability entitlement within 12 months, how will her FERS retirement formulate? Will she still get 40 percent of her high-3 pay and 100 percent from Social Security?
Q. My mother has never worked outside the home. Upon my father’s death, she will receive survivor benefits from CSRS and Social Security benefits based on his work record. I believe she will not be affected by any government pension offset because she has never worked. Is that correct?
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. I retired Jan. 1, 1985, under CSRS with 25 years of federal service.
I also qualified for total and permanent disability under FECA benefits based on injury June 23, 1983. I had no employment under FERS.
I elected FECA benefits. Before my employment with the government, I also qualified for regular Social Security retirement benefits for work in the private sector with fewer than 15 years of substantial earnings. Can I receive full FECA benefits and Social Security retirement benefits at the same time? If so, would there be any reduction in the Social Security retirement amount?
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. I am retired under CSRS. I am 60. I have four years of military time that I have not paid back.
I have 22 quarters of Social Security. If I start working in the private sector, I will not acquire 40 credits by my 62nd birthday. Can I still have my CSRS retirement reduced if I acquire 40 credits after my 62nd birthday?
Q. My husband worked for the government for 25 years under CSRS and receives a pension. When he retired, we applied for spousal benefits because I had no qualifying employment. He then went to work in the private sector and will complete his 30 years of substantial earnings for Social Security next year. When he retires, he will receive another pension from his private job. As we understand it, we should not be affected by the windfall elimination provision. However, we are confused by the government pension offset. Will he not be entitled to draw his full Social Security at age 66 or later? How will it affect my half of his Social Security payments? How will it affect my spousal benefit of his federal pension should he die before I do? Am I correct in understanding that the pensions are not considered earned income and should not reduce the Social Security amount?
Q. I retired on disability in 1981. I have 30 years of Social Security, 27 substantial. I understand the windfall elimination provision does not apply to me, as I retired on disability before this law took effect, in 1984.
Q. I came to the Postal Service under CSRS in 1983. I paid back my four years of active duty into my retirement, which made my annuity date 1979. While continuing my postal career, I served 18 years in the reserve for a total of 22 military years. Those 18 years in the reserve put me over my 40 quarters for Social Security, but I did not pay them into my CSRS retirement. I’m now 60 with over 33 years CSRS and my military retirement just kicked in. I have a target of age 62 for retirement from CSRS.
My most recent Social Security benefits statement shows me receiving a fairly decent benefit. But I believe the windfall elimination provision will wipe out most if not all of it. How much of a reduction can I expect? Does the WEP version of the online calculator provide a fairly decent estimate?
Q. I’m 52½ years old. I came into the civil service as an air reserve technician in April 2007. I bought back 10 years of active-duty service, which brings me to 16 years creditable service. In 2008, I had a botched surgery and have also developed a foot problem, both no fault of my own. My case is being reviewed by a medical evaluation board. If I lose my dual status, under these circumstances, can I remain in my job as civil servant, or will I be offered a civil service position to remain in the civil service until I retire in 2020? Title 10 USC 10218 says I would. USAFR Instruction 136-114 says I would.
However, I have heard that I would only be considered for a position should one exist at my current assigned base and under my current wage grade (WG-11). If none exists, I would be medically retired and qualify only for an annuity, based on my creditable service of 16 years. I think it’s 25 percent of my annual salary at 16 years. I do not think I would qualify to draw my Social Security. However, I haven’t been able to find any directives stating these rules within the laws or regulations governing air reserve technicians. Can you advise?
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. My husband died at age 51 in 2000. He worked 28 years for USPS, plus four years in the military, for 32 years (he paid no Social Security taxes for the 28 years in USPS). I have received widow’s death benefit annuity payments since his death, in addition to purchasing the USPS medical insurance plan. I worked full time in the medical profession until his death and have worked part time since 2000. I would like to take my Social Security at age 62 (in 3 years). Am I still eligible to receive the USPS death benefit annuity (and insurance option) once I start collecting my Social Security?