By Reg Jones
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. 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 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. 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.
Q. I am looking for any successful challenges to the five-year rule. I began federal service July 1984, 2½ years before FERS became effective. I was placed originally in CSRS offset and then placed fully in FERS due to the five-year rule. I want to be under CSRS. I am 56, and I have 29 years of federal service and four years military service (Air Force, 1975-1979). Is there any way to beat this five-year unfair decision?
November 21st, 2013 | annuity reduction Benefits Creditable service: CSRS CSRS annuity computation CSRS Offset EMPLOYMENT Government pension offset PAY Re-employment RETIREMENT SOCIAL SECURITY spouse benefits SURVIVOR BENEFITS Windfall elimination provision
Q. I am a CSRS Offset employee. I had seven years and 10 months of CSRS service when I left and took my funds out. I returned as CSRS Offset after a 15-month break, did not make a redeposit and now have an additional 26 years of service.
I am looking at retiring in 4½ years at age 60. In addition, I am divorced (married 28 years and one month, not remarried). My ex-husband has always made substantially more. Based on the scenario stated, I am of the opinion that:
1. The windfall elimination provision will not apply since I will have 30½ years of paying into Social Security.
2. The government pension offset does not apply since I am CSRS Offset, and
3. I can collect Social Security based upon my spouse’s earnings since his income was substantially more than mine.
I need to know whether these assumptions are correct, and whether there are any other “offsets” as it will make the difference on whether or not I can afford to retire or need to keep working until full (Social Security) retirement age.
Q. I am in CSRS offset, and I am eligible to retire now. I turned 66 on April 8. I started collecting Social Security benefits as of Jan. 1 and continue to work. How will my retirement calculation change when I retire? Most, but not all, of the Social Security benefits were earned while I was under CSRS offset. I copied the following excerpt from “Ask the Experts”: “In the year you reached your full retirement age, it would be reduced by $1 out of every $3 you earned. After that, there wouldn’t be any reduction.”
I don’t understand what will be reduced from my Social Security or my retirement when I retire?
Q. I have worked with the understanding that I would enjoy a CSRS retirement. When I turned in a request for retirement computation, I found out that I was a CSRS Offset employee, and they began removing Social Security payments from my paycheck. I am over 55 and have worked over 30 years with the same federal company. I had a break in service to have a baby (that was back when the Family Medical Leave Act did not exist, and I had to quit and return to work as a temp for a year and then be made permanent again.
I did not know if I am expected to pay 30 years of back Social Security. Some say that CSRS should move my contributions to SS, and some say they will not. I have 17 quarters of SS. I plan on working another five years. When I plan on retiring, I will have paid in 39.25 quarters and be 60 years old. There will be six years of payments to SS upon retirement.
I have a great fear of retiring at 60 and then, on the magic becoming of 62 years old, and huge wrench will be thrown in the works and I will have a reduced annuity from the CSRS and no annuity from Social Security. What type of proactive actions should I be taking now to resolve my anxiety?
November 13th, 2013 | annuity reduction Benefits Creditable service: CSRS CSRS Offset Earnings test EMPLOYMENT High-3 PAY Postal Service RETIREMENT SOCIAL SECURITY substantial earnings Windfall elimination provision
Q. I will be 63 this month. I worked at the Postal Service from 1969 to 1981 as a letter carrier. I took the CSRS money out when I left in 1981. I worked in the private sector from 1981 to 1989. I came back to USPS in 1989, paid back the CSRS money and am now in CSRS offset.
I have about 37 years in USPS and plan to work here another three years. Where can I find some info to help me decide whether to retire from USPS now and work in private sector or keep working at USPS?
A. The only info I can give you is about what your benefits would be if you retired now. With 37 years of service, your CSRS annuity would be 70.25 percent of your high-3. However, because you are a CSRS Offset employee who would be retiring at or after age 62, your CSRS annuity would be automatically reduced by the amount of Social Security benefit you earned while a CSRS Offset employee. The amount you received would be the same; it would just come from two different places, the Office of Personnel Management and the Social Security Administration. You could, if you wished, apply for a Social Security benefit at that time, which would give you credit for all of your Social Security-covered employed. Because you would have over 30 years of substantial earnings under Social Security, you wouldn’t be subject to the windfall elimination provision.
Q. I am a retired federal employee on CSRS Offset. Law enforcement with mandatory retirement at age 57. My wife is older than I am and is drawing on her own Social Security. Until I am 62, all of the money is CSRS. When I turn 62, I will start to draw Social Security and my CSRS annuity will be reduced. Would my wife then be able to draw the spouse one-half amount of my Social Security (or whichever is the larger amount between us), or is there any language in which she would be restricted from my Social Security due to the fact that it is tied to my CSRS amount? She is having to sign up for Medicare because she is 65. We pay a lot of money for our federal health insurance. They will take $104. This would protect us with the Blue Cross secondary. Do you recommend signing up for Medicare even though it will decrease her benefits with Blue Cross health insurance?
Q. I retired under CSRS Offset (disability) from the federal government at age 52 in 2005 with 26 years of service. I was told by human resources that, at age 62, it is mandatory that I apply for Social Security retirement, and if I did not do so, I would be subject to an overpayment that must be repaid. HR also told me that I would have no choice in the matter — that after applying for Social Security at age 62, my federal Blue Cross/Blue Shield health insurance would become secondary and Medicare would become primary health carrier. Is this the case? Must I retire at 62, and must I give up my Blue Cross health care for Medicare?
Q. I retired from the Department of Transportation (Federal Aviation Administration) about seven years ago. I retired under CSRS Offset with about 35 years of service. I will be turning 62 in a few months and have applied for my Social Security benefits. I selected some Federal Employees Group Life Insurance coverage, so I am still enrolled. Since my CSRS benefits will be reduced at age 62, can I make changes to my FEGLI coverage to increase my survivor benefits?
Q. I am a former employee who left employment with the federal government three years ago. I was under the CSRS Offset (23 years). I am 59 years old. It is my understanding that I can apply for my retirement at age 62. How do I go about doing that? Do I contact the Office of Personnel Management in Boyers, Pa. Also, what forms do I need complete? Is it possible to receive my retirement sooner than age 62? Do you have contact information for the OPM office.
I also participated in FERS (Thrift Savings Plan only; no match). How do I access these funds? Do you have the contact information for the TSP?
October 23rd, 2013 | Creditable service: CSRS CSRS annuity computation CSRS Offset Government pension offset RETIREMENT SOCIAL SECURITY spouse benefits SURVIVOR BENEFITS Windfall elimination provision
Q. I am a CSRS Offset employee who will be retiring in January. My spouse is a full CSRS retiree receiving an annuity. I am trying to decide if I should provide a survivor annuity for him on my retirement.
1. Because he is a full CSRS and affected by the windfall elimination provision, I was told by Social Security that he would not be eligible for Social Security spousal benefits on my Social Security account. Is this correct?
2. If I take the full 55 percent survivor annuity for my spouse and he does not apply for Social Security, is he entitled to the full 55 percent survivor annuity?
3. When I turn 62, my annuity will be reduced for the Social Security offset. Will the survivor annuity be reduced at that time, as well?
4. Would my spouse incur a reduction to his survivor annuity if he files against his own small Social Security account (affected by WEP)?
Q. I am a former employee that left employment with the federal government three years ago. I was under the old CSRS Offset system (23 years). I am 59 years old. It is my understanding that I can apply for my retirement at age 62. How do I go about doing that? Do I contact the Office of Personnel Management in Boyers, Pa.? Also, what forms do I need to complete? Is it possible to receive my retirement sooner than age 62? Do you have contact information for the OPM office?
I also participated in FERS (Thrift Savings Plan only, no match). How do I access these funds? Do you have the contact information for the TSP? Read the rest of this entry »
Q. I am a government worker under CSRS Offset. I was told that I cannot keep working as a government worker full time and draw Social Security at age 66. Is this correct?
Q. I am in CSRS Offset. I am 56 with 29 years of Veterans Affairs Department service. Do I have to wait until November 2014, when I will have 30 years of service, before I can obtain retirement benefits? My service was involuntarily interrupted when I was “laid off” for a three-month period. It was never technically referred to as a reduction in force, but I did obtain unemployment during that period. Is there any way I can get credit for that?
Q. I have prior CSRS service with a break in employment. I am now CSRS Offset. I did not get health insurance when I returned to service because I was covered by the Veterans Affairs Department. I picked it up during open season the following year. I can retire in two years at age 62. I will need one more year to have my five years to carry my health insurance into retirement for my disabled husband. The trouble is, I have terminal cancer. My life expectancy is two years. I hope to make it to retirement but worry beyond that. I have been told I can ask for a waiver from the Office of Personnel Management because I am terminal. Is this correct?
Q. I just received my federal retirement benefits statement from human resources. I noticed that my prior service (federal law enforcement officer April 16, 1984 to Sept. 27, 1986) is listed as CSRS Offset. I took my current job (federal law enforcement officer March 23, 1987-present) and am covered under FERS. According to the Federal Erroneous Retirement Coverage Correction Act, shouldn’t I have been offered CSRS coverage instead of FERS?
Q. Now that I’ve reached age 62, the Office of Personnel Management has informed me that my CSRS Offset goes into effect. Fine. I’ve received a number of written indications of what my pension’s reduced amount will be and that amount received on Sept. 3. Now how and when does the Social Security amount get added? I’ve not heard one word about that.
In June, I started calling. The Social Security Administration said I had to apply for it. The OPM agent said it was automatic after they figured out the offset amount, but nothing from OPM suggests that they give a hoot about the SS amount of my pension.
I’m totally confused. No retirement seminar I took prior to retirement ever mentioned how this was to transpire, and I never thought to ask the question until now.