Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Medicare Part A and Social Security

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am CSRS. I earned my 40 quarters before becoming a fed. I plan to retire May 2 at almost 65 years old. I am not going to apply for Social Security until 66. I will have almost 37 years of combined federal service. When I apply for Medicare Part A at 65, there will be no cost, correct? When I go on Social Security, there will be no cost for Medicare Part A, correct?

Read the rest of this entry »

CSRS Offset

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am under CSRS Offset. I retired in 2009 at age 57 with 30 years of service, went back to work as a contractor and am still working. I have paid into Social Security for approximately 40 years. Will there be an offset in my retirement when I turn 62?

Read the rest of this entry »

Disability retirement

Bookmark and Share

Q. A friend of mine left his federal job due to a knee injury. He says he hurt his knee on the job (I believe this is documented). He has been unemployed for about three years and collects Social Security benefits due to the knee injury. He did not know to put in for federal disability retirement. At this point, is there anything he can do to receive something from the government?

Read the rest of this entry »

Deferring Social Security

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am a FERS employee. If I retire at my minimum retirement age (56) and receive the special retirement supplement until age 62, am I allowed to defer collecting Social Security until my full retirement age (66 and 10 months)?

Read the rest of this entry »

3 pensions

Bookmark and Share

 Q. I plan to retire when I’m 70 years old with 10 years of civil service. I also draw military retirement for 25 years of service. Can I also draw full Social Security when I retire, which would have me receiving three government pensions?

Read the rest of this entry »

Retirement eligibility

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am 59 years old. I receive a civil service retirement from my former spouse, approximately $24,000 per year. I work in the private sector and have paid into Social Security for 40 years.

I will be accepting a position in the federal government and plan to work for five years and pay the maximum I can into CSRS. I hope that, after five years, I am eligible for a small retirement from the government in addition to Social Security and my former husband’s retirement. Is this correct, or will there be caps to the amount that I can obtain from the government and Social Security?

Read the rest of this entry »

Catch-62

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am retiring under CSRS in February. With my three years, 11 months and 10 days in the Navy, plus sick leave, I will have 42 years and eight months CSRS and be 62 years and five months old. On advice of our HR office, I never paid my military deposit back since I was planning on retiring federal and only had 31 Social Security credits. I have looked in the Office of Personnel Management site and the Fedweek CSRS retirement manual and neither says it will not reduce my annuity if I don’t pay the deposit. Can you help?

Read the rest of this entry »

CSRS Offset

Bookmark and Share

Q. I have been employed with the Postal Service since 1985 with three years of prior service in the D.C. government under CSRS. After 30 years of service, I received a notification informing me that the Postal Service was supposed to change my retirement plan to FERS in 1987 but did not. Now I have been forced to elect either CSRS Offset or FERS. I selected CSRS Offset, which added one year to my retirement date. If I retire at age 56, will my annuity still be the same, or do I have to work until 62 to receive full pay and Social Security benefits?

Read the rest of this entry »

Windfall elimination provision

Bookmark and Share

Q. I’m retiring this year with 33 years of service under CSRS. I’ve earned enough credits (however do not have 30 continuous years of Social Security) to be eligible for Social Security. Will the WEP affect what I would get from Social Security, and reduce my retirement annuity? Or will I be able to collect my full retirement annuity but just have a reduced Social Security check?

Read the rest of this entry »

Military deposit and interest

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am a 20-year federal employee with 16 years of active-duty service. I made a huge error in not making the deposit within the first two interest-free years of federal service. I doubt I can afford the now very large sum which will be due (just received my Estimated Earnings from Defense Finance and Accounting Services) and will need to enact payroll deduction.

1. Will interest continue to accrue during the period I am making payments?

2. What impact will there be (if any) on my ability to draw Social Security if I make a military deposit?

Read the rest of this entry »

Survivor benefits and annuity reduction for spouse

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am a retired CSRS employee with survivor benefits for my wife. She is FERS and will retire this year. If I die, will my survivor benefits affect/reduce her FERS and/or Social Security benefits?

Read the rest of this entry »

Social Security

Bookmark and Share

Q. I will be 62 on Sept. 3 and will still be CSRS for another year or so. Can I collect 100 percent of my Social Security amount for age 62 at that time?

Read the rest of this entry »

Survivor benefits

Bookmark and Share

Q. I have been employed with the Postal Service for 26 years. I am 64 years old and am eligible for retirement. I would like to work for another year. I have some health issues. If I should die while I am still working, would I lose all that I have paid in to my retirement, or would my wife get my retirement benefits? If so, how much? Or would she only get my life insurance benefit?

Read the rest of this entry »

Annuity payments vs. Social Security

Bookmark and Share

Q. Please explain why my retirement check is issued one month late. In other words, my Jan. 1, 2014, payment is actually for December 2013. I do not believe it is like that with Social Security. Their January 2014 check is actually for the month of January. It is like the government hangs on to the money for an extra 30 days each month, as I understand it.

Read the rest of this entry »

Social Security ‘quarters’

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am a CSRS employee who started with the Postal Service in 1981. However, I worked in a supermarket before the USPS and worked for the union for the past six years. For both of those other jobs, I have paid and still am paying Social Security. I have heard the expression of “having enough quarters” for Social Security retirement. What does that mean, and how many quarters are needed?

Read the rest of this entry »

Failure to pay annual leave promptly

Bookmark and Share

Q. Federal worker was separated from service Nov. 30 pursuant to Office of Personnel Management disability determination. Worker is completely disabled. The worker’s pay for 2013 exceeds the Social Security limit. Agency fails to pay accrued leave promptly. Leave is paid in 2014. Would Social Security be deducted?

Read the rest of this entry »

CSRS Offset

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am in CSRS Offset and I will be eligible to retire with an annuity and possible early buyout at age 50. I received my benefit estimate report, which has a monthly Social Security offset amount. Is this amount what I will get in addition to my annuity when I am 62? I also see that if an employee decides to delay receiving Social Security benefits until after he or she turns 62, the CSRS benefit would be reduced even though the employee might not be receiving the Social Security benefit? Is that correct?

Read the rest of this entry »

Survivor benefits

Bookmark and Share

Q. My uncle passed away, leaving my aunt who just turned 98 in need of full-time care. I have been paying her bills and her caregiver. I mistakenly thought the income he received was Social Security, but found out that it was his federal pension. He received this payment of approximately $1,400 per month direct deposited into their account until May following his death. They took back the March-May payments, then stopped any further payments.

It has recently been brought to my attention that my aunt should have retained a portion or all of his pension as his widow. Her only income is $575 per month Social Security. I am wondering if she was not accurately listed as his spouse or if we missed some paperwork following his death.

My aunt lives in Oregon, and I am in Tennessee. Her caregiver is awesome, but she does not always send us everything.

We finally completed the Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance paperwork and are waiting for a small death benefit but need to determine if she was supposed to be getting his pension. She is nearing the end of her resources, and we are trying to be sure we have done all we can.

Read the rest of this entry »

Survivor benefits

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am a CSRS retiree (I retired in 1998) and am single.

1. If I get married and want my spouse to receive federal benefits after my death, by what percentage — or by what dollar amount — would my current pension decrease because of this change in marital status?

2. Would my spouse be covered by my choice immediately, or is there a waiting period?

3. My fiancee is getting Social Security disability but will turn 65 next year. Does that monthly amount change from what she receives now on disability to what her monthly Social Security would be because she has reached 65?

4. If I marry and should survive my spouse, do I receive all or part of whatever her monthly payment would be (per paragraph 3)?

Read the rest of this entry »

FERCCA and WEP

Bookmark and Share

Q. In the Dec. 2 article titled “Don’t let these 5 mistakes disrupt your plans,” in mistake number 4, you wrote “If you are covered by CSRS (or FERS and will have a CSRS component in your annuity) and will also be eligible for a Social Security benefit, you’ll be subject to the windfall elimination provision. The WEP reduces the Social Security benefit of anyone receiving an annuity — in whole or part — from a retirement system where he didn’t pay Social Security taxes and has fewer than 30 years of substantial earnings under Social Security.”

A co-worker said they just attended their first retirement seminar, and they may be Federal Erroneous Retirement Coverage Corrections Act eligible (they were in CSRS and placed into FERS without their consent around 1987). They are going to contact our personnel office and have it confirmed that they should be in CSRS.  From the article item #4, I am wondering if the following is correct:

If you have more than 30 years of Social Security earnings and get your FERS status changed to CSRS, which would cease you being taxed for Social Security, once you retire and were 62 years old, would you be eligible for a Social Security benefit and not be subjected to the windfall elimination provision?

Read the rest of this entry »