By Reg Jones
December 9th, 2013 | annuity reduction Benefits Creditable service: CSRS CSRS annuity computation Government pension offset PAY SOCIAL SECURITY spouse benefits substantial earnings taxes Windfall elimination provision
Q. Will I be able to draw Social Security if my husband is retired military and retired CSRS? I have work for more than 30 years paying Social Security tax and have been told I can’t draw. Will my husband be able to draw because he has paid Social Security tax as a self-employed contractor?
Q. I have 22 years in federal service under FERS and am 56 years old. I have held Tricare Prime under my retired spouse for over five years and Blue Cross/Blue Shield under my position for four years. If I take early retirement, can I carry my insurance into retirement? Do I meet the conditions to receive the special retirement supplement until I reach age 62? If not, under what conditions could I receive the special retirement supplement that would carry until I reach my Social Security age?
Q. I plan to retire in 2014 with a CSRS pension. Will my spouse’s Social Security benefits be reduced when I begin to receive my CSRS pension?
I do not have sufficient quarters to qualify for Social Security. My wife has never been employed by the federal government and has only held jobs in the private sector where she has paid into Social Security. She meets the eligibility requirements to receive Social Security benefits, and she intends to apply to receive her Social Security benefits this season.
Q. I am a CSRS Offset retiree. I attended more than one pre-retirement seminar and was given examples of my retirement situation, along with reassurances that my retirement would closely follow the examples and that I was very fortunate to be CSRS Offset, and would be very happy.
I was told to check with Social Security to find out about my offset. Neither the Office of Personnel Management nor Social Security could know the exact amounts until I retired.
Following my retirement, everything, except Social Security, was in disorder for six months. OPM explained that they had to check with SS about the calculation of my offset, and that took some time. When I contacted SS, they said there was no offset for me because of my lengthy employment history and more than 30 years of SS payments (and I paid both CSRS and SS amounts since 1983).
The bottom line is, at the pre-retirement seminar, I was shown and walked through one method for calculating the offset and told that there was also another and that the one with the lowest amount would be used to determine my offset. My eventual monthly OPM payments were about $1,000 a month less than those demonstrated in the example based on all that was known about my salary and SS payment history at the pre-retirement seminar. I realize that the pre-retirement amount could be off a little, but $1,000/month is a lot. Each time I tried to sort this out, I was told by SS that there was no offset, and I was told by OPM that they used the offset given to them by SS.
To this date, this matter has never been satisfactorily explained and resolved. SS even sent me a letter stating that I was not subject to any offset, and OPM continues to state that my pension offset was based on the information supplied to them by SS. Can you supply me with someone to walk me through the calculations that were apparently so far from real?
Q. I retired a few years ago with a pension and with Federal Employees Health Benefits coverage. Turned 65 a year ago. Have not applied for Social Security, as the benefit will be less than $200 per month.
All sources tell me that when I apply for Social Security, Medicare Part A will be mandatory, even though all our working careers, they said we can just have FEHB for retirement. I do not want Part A and wish to remain with FEHB only. Also with all of the mixups, I am sure they will put me into Part B, as well (even though I do not want or need).
Q. I worked for the government (Department of Defense Dependents Schools) as a teacher overseas in Germany from January 1969 to June 1984. I am receiving a government pension (my retirement) of $629 per month.
I was told at the Social Security office that my Social Security benefits would be reduced by two-thirds because I worked for the government. Until 1984, DoDDS employees were not allowed to pay into Social Security. I have paid into Social Security by working at other teaching positions and other types of work.
Is what the Social Security administrator said correct? Am I penalized because I worked for the government, and is my pension considered part of my Social Security, and after 15 years, am I to get just $800 a month (including Social Security) to live on for the rest of my life?
Q. I am looking at retiring in September 2014 at age 57 years and five months. I will have 34 years in FERS and a little less than a year of sick leave to convert. I have $359,000 in my Thrift Savings Plan account. I am single, never married. What are my best options? I am located in an isolated area and am unable to attend any retirement seminars, especially now with the budget issues.
Q. I am a CSRS Offset employee with 30 years of service at age 55. If a Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay is offered and I’m accepted, can I use that money to buy back time — first year of federal service and two years of term employment in middle of my career (FICA-covered only) — to use toward my pension? I understand the years only paid to FICA apply to my total number of years but not toward my pension benefit.
Q. If I am eligible for the special retirement supplement when I retire from federal service, must I apply for the supplement with the Social Security Administration? Or will it be automatically received as a part of my retirement package?
Q. I retired in 2008 with 33 years credited, of which three were in the military. I never bought back my military time. I am almost 59 now and have 35 quarters of Social Security banked. I understand that if I get over 40 before I turn 62, my pension will be affected. Most of my Social Security quarters earned were either military (in the 1970s; wasn’t much) and part-time work.
So I do not have much money vested in Social Security.
If I get 40 quarters and my pension is offset, how can I figure how much that will be? I may decide it’s to my benefit to continue part-time work.
Q. I was collecting the special retirement supplement for over a year when a good job came open. I took it. I reported my excess earnings about being over $15,500, and they stopped my supplement. But now the job has gone away. Can I start receiving the supplement again? If so, will it start automatically? Or do I have to notify someone?
Q. I’m a CSRS Offset employee (58 years old) contemplating retirement in 2½ years with more than 41 years of service (plus over 1,400 hours of sick leave). Eight of the aforementioned years are active military. I plan to buy back those eight military years of service. Will buying those eight years of military service neutralize the reduction I face at age 62? I have also been employed for the past 13 years with a worldwide retailer and plan on continued employment with this retailer until age 62. Is it true that my CSRS service pension would not be affected by Social Security? I’m thinking that I will be able to draw the full CSRS pension (80 percent) and early Social Security payment (age 62) with no other reductions.
Q. I am a 51-year-old with 32 years of service under CSRS. I am eligible to retire in 2016 when I reach age 55. I have also worked and paid into Social Security for about the same number of years. Am I eligible to receive both Social Security and my civil service retirement pension?
I would also like to know how a buyout works. If one is offered before I reach age 55, what is the payout, and will I receive my current benefits such as life and health insurance coverage?
Q. My husband is retired Postal Service, with Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Medicare Part A.
I will be 65 in March but only have 37 credits and do not qualify for Social Security or Medicare, according to my SS statement.
I would like to know if I qualify for Part A under my husband’s Medicare benefits and, if so, what will happen to that benefit if he dies before I do? Due to medical issues, I do not plan to work in to get those last three credits.
Q. I retired in 2000 with 30 years of federal civil service and am covered by Blue Cross/Blue Shield. My wife has survivor benefits both for my annuity and my Social Security. I declined Medicare coverage when we qualified for it. Now we are in our 70s, and I want to know if we can now enroll in Medicare. If so, how is the penalty calculated? I’m under the impression that the accumulated penalty for late enrollment may not be to our benefit to enroll. As it stands now, we pay 20 percent of all our medical expenses, and they have been substantial, with the medical problems that my wife has now.
Q. I am a retired federal employee under CSRS Offset, where my Social Security kicks in at age 62 and my CSRS is reduced. Am I allowed, or is it beneficial for me to file for Social Security benefits at age 60 since my husband is deceased?
Q. I am 47 years old with 27 years of service with the Postal Service. I have been offered a Voluntary Early Retirement Authority so that an organizational restructuring can occur. Would this be considered the same as a reduction in force? Would I be eligible for the special retirement supplement because I am a FERS employee? If so, what age would I be eligible to receive the SRS? Immediately upon retirement, or down the road? Also, how would this affect my Social Security benefits?
Q. When my job was moved during a base realignment and closure, I elected to leave the organization and take my chances in the Priority Placement Program. As a result, I received a severance package that was to provide me a “wage” until I was placed by PPP.
Unfortunately, I was never placed and at the end of the one-year period and was released. How does that severance payout affect my retirement calculation? Is severance pay resulting from BRAC and PPP a separate issue that has nothing to do with retirement?
I am within three years of retiring. At that time, I’ll have 19 years as CSRS and eight years as CSRS Offset. I’ve researched various aspects of how retiring as CSRS Offset at 60 will be affected when I turn 62. I just don’t want to reach my last day at work only to be told I have to pay back the severance pay before I can receive my first retirement check.
November 25th, 2013 | annuity reduction Creditable service: FERS Earnings test EMPLOYMENT FERS annuity computation law enforcement Minimum retirement age PAY RETIREMENT service computation date SOCIAL SECURITY Special retirement supplement
Q. I am a law enforcement officer, born 1967. My 6(c) service computation date is Nov. 1, 1989, and I plan to continue to work as a 6(c) until Dec. 31, 2014 (but not retire, simply change jobs/agency). I would like to continue working as a FERS regular employee until Dec. 31, 2020, when my youngest is out of college. If I change from 6(c) to regular FERS either now or at the end of 2014, do I mess up my ability to retire with the 6(c) computation of my 20 “good years,” or lose the ability to retire before minimum retirement age on an unreduced annuity, or give up the ability to avoid wage earnings testing against my special retirement supplement prior to my MRA?
Q. I have been working for the federal government for just over five years. I am in need of my third spinal surgery. This one will be a doozy and will put me out of commission for over a year, and I will no longer be able to sit comfortably, which will make it impossible to do my eight-hour desk job. According to Social Security, I would qualify for full disability, but I have not applied yet. Would I be eligible for both Social Security disability and the early disability retirement under FERS being only 41? If so, which is done first: surgery, Social Security or retirement?