Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Social Security payment

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Q. I am a 23-year retired military veteran (1968-1991), 30 percent disabled, and I have been receiving military retainer pay since 1991. I then began working for the Veterans Administration as an engineer GS-09 in June 1998, and I am still employed (FERS). But I can retire soon with 16 years civil service gaining a monthly retirement pension from VA and too what I have deposited into TSP. When I retire at 66, which would be next year, what will my Social Security benefit be? I have been told it will be reduced because I have two ‘pensions’ (one from military and the other from VA under FERS), yet I paid into Social Security (FICA during military) and Social Security taxes also under VA. During all my employment time (military and civil service), I have also paid taxes into Social Security, so why would I not get full benefits? Read the rest of this entry »

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Social Security benefits for military service

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Q. How could I find out if I am getting military benefits from Social Security? I was in the military from 1960 through 1964 and began receiving Social Security benefits in 2004.

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FERS and Social Security

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Q. I am 66 years old, which is my full retirement age. I worked from 1966 to 1970 for the federal government. I was in CSRS. My credit was three years and 11 months. I stopped working in 1970 to raise a family. I withdrew the money I had paid into CSRS. Between 1970 and 2001, I held a few non-government, small, part-time or intermittent jobs in which I paid into FICA. I returned to work for the Army in December 2001. I was automatically put into FERS, so began paying into FICA and FERS. I have paid back with interest the amount I withdrew from CSRS in 1970. This will give me 16 years and three months of FERS.
I have submitted my retirement packet and applied for my Social Security pension. When I applied for SS, the form asked if I had worked at any time without paying any FICA. I said yes. The next question was “Was it government?” I said yes. Is this going to affect my SS pension? I do not really understand the Offset and Windfall rules. Read the rest of this entry »

FERS and Social Security disability

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Q. My husband was retired from active military at 100 percent disability for a line of duty illness. He also has a FERS pension that is currently at 60 percent the first year and 40 percent for all the rest. They required him to file for Social Security disability, which he was denied. We have received notice from FERS asking him to re-apply for Social Security disability. I’m sure this will affect his FERS pension, however I have been unable to get an answer as to how.

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Disability annuity after 62

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Q. I retired as of 1/31/14 from USPS. I turned 62, and they told me that I would be unable to collect disability retirement because of my age. After having surgery on both hands, I was designated 30 percent impaired in both hands, job related. The Department of Labor is paying me a schedule award. I have signed up for Social Security. Is this true that I cannot collect disability? Read the rest of this entry »

Surviors benefits and continued health insurance

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Q. I am currently enrolled in an insurance program that will pay out excellent benefits should I die before my spouse. I am getting ready to retire under CSRS Offset. How much of a reduced survivor benefit do I need to take to ensure my wife maintains her health benefits? Read the rest of this entry »

CSRS survivor benefits

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Q. My wife’s uncle (age 87 with 42 years CSRS) asked me to find out if his wife would continue receiving his retirement should he die first. His wife is under social security retirement after a career in nursing. She is 85, both have been retired for a long time. In this scenario, how would her future retirement be computed? Read the rest of this entry »

FERS disability payments and SS

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Q. I’m 53 and on disability retirement under FERS.  Upon reaching Social Security recipient age, will my FERS disability payment end so I’ll only receive my regular Social Security payment? Read the rest of this entry »

VERA pros and cons

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Q. I am a FERS employee working for the Department of Agriculture. I have been offered a job outside of the government and am trying to see the pros and cons of leaving. I am a FERS employee with a service computation date of Aug. 17, 1986, and am 46 years old. If I apply for Voluntary Early Retirement Authority, what would the disadvantages or advantages be?

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Drawing Social Security while still working: FERS

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Q. I am a FERS federal employee and I turn 62 in March. Can I draw my Social Security at 62 (worked in industry for 27 years and have been a federal work for 15 years) and still keep working for the federal government? I would like to work until I am 66 to get a higher amount of retirement from the federal government. I realize I would have to pay taxes on the Social Security since I would be making more than what is allowed and it is considered income and I would get a reduced amount for the rest of my life by taking it at 62.

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Survivor annuity and Social Security

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Q. My deceased husband retired from civil service by disability and received monthly payments until his death. During his working years, he paid for my spousal annuity benefit. I now receive my own Social Security account.

The problem is, there is a deceased ex-wife listed ahead of me on record. In the chance I’m able to prove her deceased status, will I qualify to receive both my Social Security and spousal annuity?

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11 questions on military buyback

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Q. 1. How are the days of active-duty service calculated?

2. Is that a one-to-one credit added to years of service?

3. Can you buy it back after you retire and adjust the annuity accordingly?

4. Can you buy back portions of it?

5. Can you pay in installments?

6. What percentage of military pay per year would you get in retirement? For CSRS, it is roughly 2 percent based on high-3; would it be calculated on actual salary back then or adjusted for inflation?

7. Any chance for a retroactive payment once established?

8. Will I lose any benefits if I do this?

9. Can I do this if I was not in the military long enough to earn a pension?

10. How does Social Security fit into this picture?

11. Can I get all three (FERS/CSRS, Social Security, military/Defense Department) separately? What is the penalty for collecting multiple pensions if done separately?

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Drawing Social Security while still working: CSRS

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Q. I work for the Postal Service with 35 years of service, covered under CSRS and I turned 62 in June. I have 40 quarters of work in under Social Security. Can I file to draw my Social Security benefits while I am still working full time under CSRS, since they get offset to almost nothing when I retire?

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Survivor annuity and Social Security

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Q. I am a 2012 CSRS retiree. My wife will soon be eligible for Social Security retirement, as she is closing in on the 40 quarters benchmark. When I die, and she receives the CSRS survivor monthly benefit, will her own Social Security retirement benefit be affected by the windfall elimination provision? (Her Social Security benefit will be minimal, having just reached the 40 quarters).

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Special retirement supplement and Social Security

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Q. I am under FERS, working for the Postal Service. If I retire at age 59 and receive the special retirement supplement, will it affect my future Social Security benefit at age 62? Will not claiming any income and not paying into Social Security for three years lower my future benefit when I do collect at 62? Does the future benefit lock in when you begin collecting the supplement?

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Disability retirement

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Q. I have 25 years of service with the Postal Service. I am extremely ill and have been told by my doctor that I would need to consider disability retirement. My base pay is $57,000 per year. Could you please tell me what my disability retirement will be?

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39 quarters

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Q. I am 61 years old and have been retired from the fire service. I have, according to Social Security, 39 units which were not earned at fire service. If correct, I need one unit to earn Social Security at age 62, and I need this unit also to be eligible for Medicare at age 65? Is there any other way to get this one quarter other than going to get a job for three months?

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Early-out and SRS eligibility

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Q. I will be 52 years old March 9. I am covered under FERS, and I have 31 years of federal service. If my base offers an early-out this year, I plan to take it.

I have a substantial balance in the Thrift Savings Plan and would like to withdraw it in its entirety when I take the early-out so I can invest it in my daughter’s business.

1. Will I be penalized for withdrawing my TSP funds early? If so, how much? I know I will be taxed, and I am OK with that. My husband plans to keep working. He is a GS-12, retired military and we have no bills, so we will be fine.

2. I know I cannot draw Social Security, and I don’t plan to do so until I reach the required age. In the meantime, will I be eligible for the special retirement supplement if I retire now? If not, at what age will I be eligible, if at all?

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Disability retirement

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Q. I applied and was just approved for disability retirement, and I am waiting for them to determine my final benefits. I have received a check for back pay for $4,677.44 for six months from the day I retired. I understand they take 100 percent of Social Security Disability Insurance out the first year, but I did not receive SSDI payments during that period of back pay. I did not receive my first SSDI payment until Feb. 11. I have been off work due to illness since March 2013 and retired July 2013. I read that back pay starts from the last payday and was told by a benefits counselor that it starts from the day you retire. What is the correct answer?

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Social Security recalculation

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Q. Will the Social Security office recalculate the amount I am getting monthly from Social Security?

I worked 10 years and earned 40 quarters to qualify for Social Security after I retired under CSRS. I feel that I should be getting more than the $140 I receive from Social Security every month. How do I request a recalculation of the amount I receive presently from Social Security?

I retired under the CSRS in March 1994 with 28 years of federal service. I was age 47 at the time and I took an early retirement because of base realignment and closure. I did not buy back my time I served in the Army from 1965 to 1968.

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