By Reg Jones
Q. I am looking at retiring in September 2014 at age 57 years and five months. I will have 34 years in FERS and a little less than a year of sick leave to convert. I have $359,000 in my Thrift Savings Plan account. I am single, never married. What are my best options? I am located in an isolated area and am unable to attend any retirement seminars, especially now with the budget issues.
Q. I was collecting the special retirement supplement for over a year when a good job came open. I took it. I reported my excess earnings about being over $15,500, and they stopped my supplement. But now the job has gone away. Can I start receiving the supplement again? If so, will it start automatically? Or do I have to notify someone?
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.
November 25th, 2013 | annuity reduction Creditable service: FERS Earnings test EMPLOYMENT FERS annuity computation law enforcement Minimum retirement age PAY RETIREMENT service computation date SOCIAL SECURITY Special retirement supplement
Q. I am a law enforcement officer, born 1967. My 6(c) service computation date is Nov. 1, 1989, and I plan to continue to work as a 6(c) until Dec. 31, 2014 (but not retire, simply change jobs/agency). I would like to continue working as a FERS regular employee until Dec. 31, 2020, when my youngest is out of college. If I change from 6(c) to regular FERS either now or at the end of 2014, do I mess up my ability to retire with the 6(c) computation of my 20 “good years,” or lose the ability to retire before minimum retirement age on an unreduced annuity, or give up the ability to avoid wage earnings testing against my special retirement supplement prior to my MRA?
Q. I am a law enforcement officer who retired after 27 years at age 51. I am receiving the special retirement supplement, which I should receive fully until age 56 despite any additional income. I started a private-sector position immediately upon my retirement. They are taking full Social Security deductions from my pay. It seems to me that I have “topped out” on Social Security based on my service. Should I still have Social Security deducted? If so, will I receive any benefit from this when file my taxes next year?
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’m a FERS employee, air reserve technician. At the time of retirement, I will have 36 years. I will have reached my high year of tenure of 56, at which I’m forced to retire. I will receive my retirement pay, but I also understand that I will be authorized to apply for the special retirement supplement as long as I don’t get another federal job? Do I apply through the Office of Personnel Management? Where does this supplement come from? Will I be penalized for exceeding a certain income level? Will it reduce the amount I’m authorized when I do decide to pull Social Security if it’s there?
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 retired from the Postal Service on Jan. 31. I am 60 years old and I took the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority. I received an $11,000 annual leave payment, and the $10,000 buyout. I also receive a widow’s benefit from Social Security of $9,000. Will this money be counted as earned income on my income taxes against the $15,120 limit? I also receive the special retirement supplement.
Q. I retired under FERS from the Bureau of Prisons with 22 years of service. I just turned 55 and have been hired by a private company for a job I am really looking forward to. When I turn 57 in September 2015, will I be required to reduce hours to stay below a specified salary threshold?
Q. I am looking at retiring in about a year. At that time, I will be 53 with 26 years of 6(c) coverage under FERS. I know I can retire right now, but will I be penalized for not waiting until I am 57 (mandatory retirement age)? Also, I understand I can earn as much as I can after retirement, but until what age? I had an officer tell me it was 57 and another said it was 62, the age when regular Social Security benefits are paid. I also believe that the Social Security benefits at 62 would be reduced but by how much?
October 23rd, 2013 | annuity reduction Coverage after retirement Earnings test EMPLOYMENT Government pension offset HEALTH INSURANCE part-time PAY Re-enrollment RETIREMENT SOCIAL SECURITY Special retirement supplement
Q. I want to see if I can suspend my medical insurance (I am retired FERS). I have taken a part-time job that offers medical benefits if I want them. I need to make a decision soon and was told that when I retired, I would be able to suspend my medical if I found work. What is the amount I can earn before I have to pay back to the Social Security (as I am 59), and do I pay back dollar for dollar?
Q. When does the earnings test begin for special category retirees? I’ve heard either 56 or 57, depending on birth year. Is this indeed the case?
Q. My special retirement supplement was discontinued due to exceeding the Social Security income limit. I have not worked this year and should be eligible for the benefit to resume in January 2014 based on zero income in 2013. I don’t understand what will trigger the payments to resume. Are they tied to my income tax filing? Will I get a retroactive payment based on eligibility if they don’t resume until after January 2014?
October 11th, 2013 | annuity reduction Creditable service: FERS Earnings test EMPLOYMENT FERS annuity computation law enforcement mandatory retirement PAY RETIREMENT SOCIAL SECURITY Special retirement supplement
Q. I am in FERS in a law enforcement officer position. I was born in 1970. I joined my agency when I was 30 (Feb. 1, 2001) so I am eligible to retire when I have 20 years of service and turn 50 (Feb. 1, 2021). The mandatory retirement age is 57. If I were to retire at age 50, can I receive the special retirement supplement then, or do I need to wait until I turn 57 (what would have been my mandatory retirement age). If I receive the supplement at any point prior to age 57, what is the formula to figure out what the reduction would be? Any other factors to consider?
Q. I am 65 years old, born in 1948. What is the maximum I can earn before being penalized for my earnings by the Internal Revenue Service in 2013?
Q. I turned 66 on Aug. 25 and draw Social Security. Is there an earning limit at this age?
Q. I plan on retiring in 1½ years with 25 years as a federal law enforcement officer. I will be 48 and will receive the full special retirement supplement until I reach my minimum retirement age, which is 56 years and four months. After that, will my annuity affect the SRS? If so, how? In other words, will my annuity be calculated as earnings when it comes to the SRS?
Q. I am planning on retiring next year under FERS with 34 years at age 56 (my minimum retirement age). I understand that I could earn $14,460 without affecting the special retirement supplement. What is calculated into this $14,460 earnings limit? Are the FERS retirement payments included in this earnings limit? Are my wife’s wages included in this earnings limit? (She will still be working, and not retired.) Is income extracted from my Thrift Savings Plan account included in this earning limit? Are any annuity payments that I buy from my TSP included in this earnings limit? Are my IRA distributions (after age 59½) included in this earnings limit?
Q. Does the withdrawal of your Thrift Savings Plan annuity affect the amount of your special retirement supplement or Social Security if it exceeds the maximum amount of money you are allowed to make under Social Security?