Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

VERA pros and cons

Bookmark and Share

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?

Read the rest of this entry »

Drawing Social Security while still working: FERS

Bookmark and Share

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Law enforcement and SRS eligibility

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am eligible for a 30-year retirement in July at age 50. If I do not get another job, I am eligible for a special retirement supplement due to the mandatory early retirement that federal law officers must take.

If I don’t work for, say, six months and then get a job in the private sector and work two years, or if I get a job immediately upon retirement and only work a couple of years, will I still be eligible for the supplement after leaving the private sector?

Read the rest of this entry »

Retirement during a RIF

Bookmark and Share

Q. I noticed you can retire during a reduction in force at below the minimum retirement age with 25 years of service. However, I’ve also read that those people are not entitled to the special retirement supplement since they are below MRA. Can they be paid the supplement once they reach MRA, even though previously retired?

Read the rest of this entry »

Drawing Social Security while still working: CSRS

Bookmark and Share

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?

Read the rest of this entry »

Special retirement supplement and TSP

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am looking at retiring in January 2015. I will be 56 years old Oct. 15. I will have 30 years in as of Dec. 24. Waiting until the end of leave year to cash in all available annual leave. I am looking at cashing out my Thrift Savings Plan in a lump sum to pay off all debts. Will that income be considered part of earned income so that the special retirement supplement is reduced?

If so, would it be in my interest to retire at the end of 2014 so that my annual leave hits that year instead of 2015? I will have more than 1,800 hours of sick leave accrued by the end of 2014. Can that be used to offset the age so that I could perhaps retire earlier so that the TSP lump sum is counted in 2014?

Read the rest of this entry »

SRS and lump-sum payment for annual leave

Bookmark and Share

Q. Does the lump-sum payment for annual leave count against maximum earnings to be eligible for the special retirement supplement? Also, if I choose a retirement date and the application begins processing, can I back out before that date?

Read the rest of this entry »

Special retirement supplement

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am retiring at age 55. I will have 26 years of 6(c)-covered service and an additional two years of military for a total of 28 years. What is the maximum amount of special retirement supplement I can get as a military veteran?

Read the rest of this entry »

Firefighter, earnings limit and SRS

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am a FERS retired firefighter and wanted to know if and how the post-retirement earning test applies. At age 55, is my special retirement supplement dependent on how much I am making at that age? If so, once the supplement is lost, can you get it back if earnings drop prior to age 62?

Read the rest of this entry »

Earnings limit

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am FERS-covered and will retire this year with 20 years at age 62. My annual FERS annuity is about $25,000. After retirement, I plan to work in a private company in a foreign country for an estimated annual $90,000 salary. I will roll over my Thrift Savings Plan savings to a traditional IRA. I will not withdraw my Social Security until I reach my full retirement age at 66 when I will no longer have any wages.

1. Am I allowed to draw FERS annuity while living in a foreign country?

2. How will my salary from the private company affect my FERS annuity? That is, will my FERS annuity be reduced due to an earnings income limit?

Read the rest of this entry »

Special retirement supplement

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am a special category employee retiring this month with 30 years of service. I will be 55 in April. My minimum retirement age is 56. I know means testing of the special retirement supplement begins when I am 56, but how, mechanically, does it work? Do I get a letter on or near my 56th birthday asking me what my earned income was during the previous year? Or do I get such a letter on or near my 57th birthday, asking the same question about the previous year (the year I turned 56)? Or does the Office of Personnel Management rely on my income tax returns to make such determinations? How long can I earn in excess of $15,450 (the threshold for means testing in 2014) before I start losing SRS money to means testing?

Read the rest of this entry »

Earnings test

Bookmark and Share

Q. I retired as a federal law enforcement officer and am receiving retirement benefits under FERS. Can you please tell me at what age the earnings test will apply to me? I was born in 1956.

Read the rest of this entry »

Special retirement supplement

Bookmark and Share

Q. As a FERS employee, when I turn 56, will my special retirement supplement be reduced based on my retirement income? Or is that only reduced based on if you work somewhere else earning wages? My understanding is that, when I retire at 56 I will get the following for my retirement:

1. Years of service percentage based on salary — for example, 30 years of service at a $100,000 salary will get $30,000 a year.

2. Annuity from Thrift Savings Plan if I decide to take annuity.

3. Special retirement supplement until I turn 62.

Do the above three count as wages that could reduce my SRS?

Read the rest of this entry »

First-year rule

Bookmark and Share

Q. I retired in 2013 at age 56. I receive the special retirement supplement, and my income from the Postal Service totaled approximately $17,000. Since that is above the maximum Social Security earnings test of $15,120 for 2013, will I need to submit Form RI 92-22 although it was my first year of retirement?

Read the rest of this entry »

Special category employees and SRS

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am trying to understand the special retirement supplement. I am under FERS. I plan on retiring from a position of air traffic controller at my mandatory retirement age of 56 with 33 years and four months of service (I was born in 1962). I have been told by a few people that because I am forced to retire at age 56, the special retirement supplement will not be means tested. Is that correct?

Read the rest of this entry »

2014 earnings limit

Bookmark and Share

Q. Where can I find the 2014 FERS supplemental earnings limit? I have been through several sites and can’t seem to find it. I understand it was supposed to be published in December.

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 »

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 »

Earnings limit

Bookmark and Share

Q. Would money received from rental property be included in the earnings limit?

Read the rest of this entry »

Retirement age and rules

Bookmark and Share

Q. I work for the Bureau of Prisons and will be forced to retire in 22 months. I started my career just before I turned 37, so I will only get my 20 years of service in and that’s it. In the year or so prior to my hire date, the maximum starting age was raised, and I’m interested in whether there is any chance of it being raised again prior to my retirement.

Read the rest of this entry »