By Reg Jones
Q. Would a retiree under Voluntary Early Retirement Authority or Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay, who would be eligible for the special retirement supplement, which is subject to an earnings test, and plans to work after retirement, be better to take the SRS and let it be reduced by the earnings test, or elect to forgo the SRS?
Q. I am a 64-year-old FERS employee with 22 years of service, planning on retiring in June. I also planned on having my Social Security start in July. Will the Social Security income cap be considered on my year to date earnings, or does Social Security only consider earnings from the start of your Social Security payments?
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 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 have a government pension and will be retiring in the next couple of years. I understand that my pension will be subject to federal and state taxes. I also have 20-21 years full time under Social Security (an additional nine years part time under social Security but under the substantial earnings amount). My Social Security will only be approximately $6,000 per year. Would the Social Security be subject to federal and state taxes?
Q. I am 51 and retired with 22 years with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. In our agency, we could retire at age 50 with 20 years of service or at any age with 25 years of service. Our maximum retirement age is 57. I thought I understood from retirement training that in our special circumstances, earnings rules did not apply until we reached age 57, or when we would have been forced to retire. In other words, after early but full eligibility retirement, we could work and we would not be penalized or limited with new income, in that it would negatively affect our current retirement annuity. That includes a Social Security supplement that law enforcement retirees receive. A retired co-worker/friend says I am wrong about that. He says we actually are limited until age 57, at which time we can earn as much as we are able without it affecting our retirement and Social Security. Please advise. I am being offered a job with which I would really like to be involved, but I am concerned that it will pay me too much if my co-worker is correct.
Q. If a Bureau of Prisons retiree takes a job other than a federal job, will he lose any amount of his retirement while he works?
Q. I’m under FERS and worried about a reduction in my Social Security benefits after retirement. My Social Security benefits are not calculated on an assumption of $110,000 a year until I retire. If I elect to retire with 31 years of service at my minimum retirement age of 56, will the years following my retirement without paying (or paying Social Security at a lower income level) reduce my Social Security benefits when I claim them at 62 or older?
Q. I know that the Social Security supplement is reduced for any earnings above $14,640 (FY 2012). My question is that if I retire at the end of February 2012, would I already lose some of the supplement since I would have already made over $20,000 by the end of February? Or would the earnings test be only for the period of March 2012-December 2012?
A. No, you wouldn’t lose any of your special retirement supplement because you’d be protected by the “first year rule.” To learn why that’s so, go to http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10069.html.
September 23rd, 2011 | Earnings test
Q: I am eligible to collect Social Security in September on my deceased husband’s Social Security. My question is as follows: At what age will I still be under the earnings limit of $14,160 per year? Also, what is the definition of earnings (Salary, self employment, etc.)?
A: You will subject to the earnings test until to reach you full Social Security retirement age, which ranges between 65 and 67, depending on your year of birth. The test applies only to earnings from wages and self employment. Up until the year in which you reach full retirement age, your Social Security survivor’s benefit will be reduced by $1 for every $2 of earnings about the limit, which is $14, 160 this year. In the year you reach your full retirement age, the reduction will be $1 for every $3 you earn above a different limit, currently $37,680.
Tags: SOCIAL SECURITY
Q: I am getting ready to retire. I worked for the government from 1968 to 1972, then worked in the private sector and earned my 40 quarters in Social Security. I returned to work for the federal government in 1984 as a Civil Service Retirement System Offset employee. I was told that because I earned my 40 quarters from the private sector that my government annuity would not be reduced: I will get a full government annuity and a full Social Security check. Is that right?
A: By law, your CSRS annuity will be reduced at age 62 by the amount of Social Security benefit you earned while covered by CSRS Offset. Whether you will be affected by the windfall elimination provision depends on how many years of substantial earnings you have under Social Security. If you have 30 or more years, there won’t be any reduction in your Social Security benefit. If not, your Social Security benefit will be reduced. You won’t be subject to the government pension offset.
Q: I recently went into the Social Security office and was given three different answers by three different people regarding offsets and the windfall elimination provision. I received an increase in my Social Security monthly payment for 2011 based on my 2009 earnings. In 2009, I made more then the minimum and qualified for another year (26 years now) toward my 30-year full exemption from the offset and windfall, so should Social Security also have given me an additional 5 percent because I now have one more year of substantial earnings toward my 30-year exemption?
I was told by the Social Security office that they do not recalculate it yearly and won’t until I get all 30 years completed. I will have 27 years when they calculate 2010 earnings next year. The real question is, are they supposed to calculate the additional year that I have earned toward my 30 years of substantial earnings immediately and give me money now, or do they wait until all 30 years are completed?
A: If you are subject to the windfall elimination provision, the reduction in your Social Security benefit is determined at the point you first become eligible for that benefit and is permanent. Any subsequent increases you are entitled to based either on cost-of-living adjustments or additional Social Security-covered earnings are simply added to that original, reduced base.
Q: A friend told me that her monthly Social Security benefit was reduced by $250 because of the profits made from the sale of a house that she inherited from her mother. Can this be true?
A: The Social Security earnings limit only applies to earnings from wages or self-employment, and then only for those individuals who haven’t reached full retirement age. In the ordinary course of events, income received through the sale of a home wouldn’t be considered to be earnings. However, if she reported any portion of the proceeds as earnings on her federal income tax return (because she served as a real estate agent, for example) that amount would be subject to the earnings limit.
Q: I retired at age 52 under a Federal Employees Retirement System law enforcement (1811) retirement. I am now 55 and am employed. I generally understand the earnings test that will apply to my FERS supplement beginning the year I reach my minimum retirement age, but I am not clear how it is calculated the first year. I will reach my MRA in 2011 at the age of 56. Are my earnings for the entire year of 2011 calculated, or do they only calculate the earnings after I turn 56? I have not been able to get an answer from the Office of Personnel Management on this.
A: There’s a special rule for the first year you retire. How your income will be treated is spelled out in a Social Security Administration publication. You’ll find it here.
Q: If I retire with 30 years of federal service under the Federal Employees Retirement System at my minimum retirement age of 56 and I go back to work outside of the federal government, will I lose my Social Security supplement?
A: If you exceed the Social Security earnings limit, your special retirement supplement will be reduced by $1 for every $2 you earn. In 2010, that limit is $14,160.
Q: For those covered under the law enforcement provision of the Federal Employees Retirement System, is the Social Security earnings test applied toward funds received from their Thrift Savings Plan if those amounts exceed the earnings test for the special law enforcement officer/firefighter Social Security supplement after their minimum retirement age?
A: No. The Social Security earnings test only applies to earnings from wages or self-employment.
Q. I retired under the early-out retirement program at CSRS; currently, I am working part time and paying in to Social Security. Am I eligible for Social Security disability?
A. Putting aside the question of whether you are sufficiently disabled to meet the Social Security Administration’s stringent criteria for granting disability benefits, to even apply you would need to have a certain number of credits under Social Security, the number depending in large part on your age and the onset of your disability. For more information go to www.ssa.gov/retire2/credits3.htm.
March 16th, 2010 | Earnings test
Q. I have a rather complicated question concerning my FERS retirement. I took an early retirement under FERS at the end of 2009. I retired on Dec. 31, 2009 at the age of 59. Because of the pay periods in 2009, the last pay period of December actually ended on Jan. 2, 2010. This pay period therefore became pay period 1 for 2010. Therefore, my last pay check and annual leave show as earned income in 2010.
My retirement date started on Jan.1, 2010. Since my last check and annual leave earnings show as earned in 2010, do they count towards the earnings ceiling of $14,100 for the Social Security component of my retirement in 2010? Between my last salary and annual leave, I earned over $20,000 for 2010. If these earnings count towards the Social Security earnings limit, when do I pay back the earnings to the Social Security Administration.
A. You’ll find the information you need to answer your question at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10069.html.
Q. I will be 62 years old in November 2010. I plan on retiring Dec 31, 2010. I will draw a FERS annuity from the government; I also will be drawing Social Security. My question is, will my FERS annuity be considered taxable income to Social Security and will my Social Security benefit be taxed for it ?
Q: Is the $14,160 earning limit on early retirement gross, or net? I am self-employed and have expenses. I do not net more than $14,000.
A: The earning limit is the gross amount of your income, not the net.