Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Suspending medical insurance after retirement

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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?

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Survivor annuity

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Q. My husband will be retiring for the Postal Service in November. Should he get a spousal annuity for me, a CSRS employee who will be retiring in 2016? Will I be eligible to draw Social Security benefit from his retirement and my CSRS retirement upon his death?

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Government pension offset

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Q. My husband passed away two years ago and, because I retired with a California Public Employees’ Retirement System pension, I am not eligible to receive his Social Security benefit because of the government pension offset. When I reach full retirement age (66), does the GPO still apply?

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Government pension offset

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Q. My wife receives Social Security benefits under my contributions and from hers. She is not a federal retiree, but a retired teacher who had 20 calendar months uncovered, which was credited by the teachers’ pension as eight school months. The government pension offset was applied against her whole Social Security benefit. Does the GPO get applied in this manner, or should it be similar to the windfall elimination provision, which goes against only the portion of pension dependent upon the uncovered months?

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WEP vs. GPO

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Q. I am a CSRS employee who has been working for 33 years plus four years of military credit gives me 37 years of service. I also have more than 40 credits to qualify for Social Security. I will be 62 this month. What is my classification in terms of government pension offset, windfall, etc.? I know that since I will receive a government pension, my Social Security will be reduced, but by how much and how can I figure it out? I plan on retiring ay the end of this year or next year.

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FERS retirement + Social Security disability

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Q. I know there is a government pension offset when receiving FERS disability retirement and Social Security disability benefits, but is there an offset when receiving regular federal retirement benefits and SSD benefits?

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Social Security reduction

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Q. Is the Social Security benefit that the federal retiree receives from a spouse’s nonfederal work history reduced in any way because the retiree is receiving a federal pension?

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Survivor annuity and Social Security

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Q. I am a federal employee under CSRS for 40 years. When I am receiving pension, am I eligible to get half of my husband’s Social Security benefit? And if he dies before me, will I be able to collect his Social Security benefit?

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Windfall elimination provision

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Q. I am a 62-year-old CSRS Offset retiree receiving Social Security survivor benefits. I have been informed that my annuity will be reduced by $773 per month since I am now eligible for Social Security benefits.

When I applied for Social Security benefits on my own earnings, I was told that I could not receive both my benefit and the survivor benefit I was already receiving. It was my understanding that I would receive a reduced Social Security benefit equal to the amount of the offset to my annuity and that I was also entitled to keep my Social Security survivor benefit since I had more than the five years of CSRS Offset service required to avoid the government pension offset. Am I wrong?

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Government pension offset

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Q. Can a CSRS retiree collect half of a spousal benefit under Social Security to get a higher benefit than he would receive under the windfall elimination provision? My Social Security check was reduced nearly 50 percent. If I could collect half of my wife’s benefit, I would come out a few hundred dollars ahead every month.

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Government pension offset

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Q. I am CSRS and on the verge of retirement with 40 years at age 66. I do not have 40 qualifying quarters for Social Security entitlement. My former spouse will be getting a portion of pension. She is Social Security-qualified. Will her Social Security payments be offset by the amount of my pension she receives because of the windfall elimination provision?

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WEP and GPO

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Q. In 1999, I voluntarily switched from CSRS to FERS after 22 years of CSRS service. Since 1999, I have been covered under FERS and paying Social Security. I plan to retire this year at age 67 after 36 years of service. I’ll have accumulated 54 calendar quarters of substantial and maximum earnings. At the time I elected to transfer from CSRS to FERS coverage, I was told that I’ll be exempt from windfall elimination provision deduction from Social Security benefits and that my spousal Social Security benefits will not be affected by the government pension offset. Is this correct?

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CSRS Offset, WEP and GPO

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Q. I am a CSRS Offset employee, having 33 years with the federal government (five years and seven months as CSRS, 28 years as CSRS Offset). Prior to that, I worked and paid into Social Security.

Now including CSRS Offset, I have more than 30 years of paying into Social Security.

If my CSRS annuity is $1,000 monthly and Social Security pays me $1,000 monthly at age 62, can I expect to receive $2,000 monthly with no reductions from the windfall elimination provision and government pension offset?

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Survivor annuity

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Q. I’m CSRS and will retire with 35 years of service. My spouse is CSRS Offset and will retire with 33 years of service. I have been told I would receive a full survivor annuity. Will it come from the Office of Personnel Management because I thought I would fall under the government pension offset with the Social Security part. My spouse should have no problem with receiving a survivor annuity from me, right?

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Spouse’s Social Security

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Q. I worked for the Internal Revenue Service for more than 30 years. I receive a CSRS pension. Can I receive my deceased husband’s Social Security benefit?

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Government pension offset

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Q. Could you please tell me what the government pension offset is for income tax purposes in Virginia and Maryland? I know that in D.C., it is $3,000, and hasn’t changed since 1987.

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CSRS Offset and WEP

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Q. I am a 33-year Postal Service employee. Thirty-three years ago, union officials told me that the government was working on eliminating CSRS Offset and the windfall elimination provision all civil service employees. As of today, they are both still in place. I feel lied to and cheated by my government. Politicians can collect multiple pensions, yet if I try and collect my Social Security benefits, though I have worked enough quarters, I would be penalized. Then, if my spouse dies, I am not entitled to her Social Security benefits, as I understand it. Is there a chance that these two antiquated laws will be repealed so civil servants like myself can enjoy the benefits that others get?

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WEP or GPO?

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Q. I am planning to retire under CSRS next year with 38 years’ service. My husband retired from private industry and receives Social Security. If my husband predeceases me, will I receive his survivor annuity, or will it be subject to the windfall elimination provision and be drastically reduced?

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Spouse benefits for Social Security

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Q. My husband is a retired federal employee under CSRS. Does he have survivor benefits for my Social Security?

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Government pension offset

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Q. Please clarify where you obtained the answer to the question below, which was posted on your website. I have contacted the Social Security office and have been told that my spouse’s earned Social Security benefits will be offset by 2/3 of the survivor benefit should I die. And if the offset is higher than my spouse’s Social Security benefit, then the Social Security benefit will be zero. Your answer to the question says the complete opposite:

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Q. I am collecting a pension under CSRS. My wife, who has worked and contributed to Social Security, plans to start collecting her Social Security pension this year at age 62. I have opted for survivor benefits under CSRS.

How will my wife’s Social Security pension change in the event of my death — and, vice versa, will my federal pension change because of her passing?

A. If you died, your wife would be able to receive both her earned Social Security benefit and a CSRS survivor annuity, with no reduction in either.

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