Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

CSRS pension

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Q. I am a postal employee in the CSRS pension plan. I’m 64 with 33 years service. If I die before I retire, will my wife get the 55 percent of what my pension would be as if I was retired? Would she be eligible for the survivor benefit as if I would have been retired? Read the rest of this entry »

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Deferred FERS retirement

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Q. I plan to leave government employment within the next year, at age 50, with about 15 years accrued service. I will defer my pension until I am 62. Everything I read discusses elections for survivor benefits as the pension payments begin. What if I were to die before the annuity begins? What benefit will be provided to my surviving spouse and minor child while I have deferred my pension payments?

A. Because you have at least five years of service, if you left your retirement contributions in the fund when you resigned and later died, your spouse would be entitled to a survivor annuity based on your prior service. And any dependent children would be entitled to children’s annuity benefits.

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Spousal annuity

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Q. In the FERS retirement system, do I have to be married at the time of my retirement  to obtain a spousal
annuity benefit, or can I get married after I retire and then change my status to spousal annuity? If I am married at the time of retirement and obtain a spousal annuity and later my spouse dies, can I change to the higher nonspousal annuity? Read the rest of this entry »

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Survivor benefit fees

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Q. I am CSRS and making a decision about whether or not to take out survivor benefits. The rule used to be you if you take out survivor benefits and your spouse dies, you had the lower annuity the rest of your life. The rule now is if you take out survivor benefits and your spouse dies, your reduced annuity can revert to full annuity. If I decide to take out survivor benefits based on the current rule and they reverted back to the old rule, would I have an opportunity to opt out of the survivor benefits since my decision is based on the current rules? Read the rest of this entry »

Annuity reductions for survivor benefits

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Q. Ten percent  of retirement earned (i.e.30 years at age 55 = 56.25 of the high three) must be paid to give a wife the full survivor benefit.  What if the wife is 12 years younger?  Is it still 10 percent? Read the rest of this entry »

Surviving spouse’s retirement benefits

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Q. My husband retired under CSRS, and I expect to retire under FERS in a few years. When he retired, he elected survivor benefits for me, and I will do the same for him. What will be the rate the survivor will receive: only their benefit or their benefit plus the survivor portion? The answer will make a big difference in how comfortable we can live in retirement, before and after one of us passes. Read the rest of this entry »

Military deposit refund for CSRS

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Q. I am CSRS and presently employed be the Air Force. I paid my military deposit in full, and as I will never have Social Security quarters, I would like to have it refunded back to me. Although OPM cannot quote the regulation, they said that if I was still making payments on it I could request a refund but because it is paid in full I cannot. Can you quote the regulation that states that? Can you quote the regulation that says that I can have this refunded! Read the rest of this entry »

Social Security benefits for survivor of CSRS retiree

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Q. I am a federal employee who will get only CSRS benefits after retirement. I will make sure there are survivor benefits for my wife if I pass away first. My wife has Social Security. Will I get any survivor benefits from Social Security if she passes away before I do? Maybe I will get some benefits after any windfall deduction is made from survivor benefits. Read the rest of this entry »

Surviors benefits and continued health insurance

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Q. I am currently enrolled in an insurance program that will pay out excellent benefits should I die before my spouse. I am getting ready to retire under CSRS Offset. How much of a reduced survivor benefit do I need to take to ensure my wife maintains her health benefits? Read the rest of this entry »

Social security and civil service pensions

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Q. I have worked for the postal service since 1982, so I will not get social security because I do not have any credits. I was told though that if my husband passes away, I cannot receive any of his social security benefits because I have a civil service pension. Is this correct? Read the rest of this entry »

VSIP and insurance for retirement

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Q. I am a CSRS employee, 55 years old with 31 years of service. If I receive a voluntary separation incentive payment, is it reduced by six weeks of severance pay I received in 1997? Would my spouse be able to keep FEHB family plan if I die? When I use the advanced retirement calculator it shows 75 percent reduction for basic insurance. Is that automatic? And does FEGLI pay out the same death benefit as currently indicated in my Employee Benefit Information System? Read the rest of this entry »

CSRS beneficiary payments

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Q. My husband is a named beneficiary on his mother’s pension from the Civil Service Retirement System (she was a former employee of the USPS).  She recently passed away, and I am curious about whether there is some kind of standard amount that is paid to survivors, or does that amount vary and depend on what is left in the employee’s pension account?  Read the rest of this entry »

Same sex spouse benefits

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Q. I retired as of March, 2013. At that time, same-sex marriages were  not recognized by the federal government. I designated my spouse as a person of insurable interest when I retired and submitted my paperwork. Now, I would like to process the annuity selection as spouse with a 50%  benefit. However, the OPM specialist working on my case has said that my status as single at the time of retirement means I must stick with the former choice.

Does it matter?  Isn’t my spouse entitled to benefits regardless?

A. According to OPM, “It can be done. You should write to our Boyers, Pa., office. There is an entire unit devoted to all thing ‘DOMA’ and ’same sex’ that can assist. The adjudication would be done first and then the customer notified regarding the difference owed. The customer can then decide to proceed or not.”

Here’s the address: U.S. OPM, Retirement Services and Management, P.O. Box 45, Boyers, PA 16017-0045.

CSRS survivor benefits

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Q. My wife’s uncle (age 87 with 42 years CSRS) asked me to find out if his wife would continue receiving his retirement should he die first. His wife is under social security retirement after a career in nursing. She is 85, both have been retired for a long time. In this scenario, how would her future retirement be computed? Read the rest of this entry »

Life insurance

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Q. I have been retired from CSRS since 2004 with 34 years of service. It is my understanding that I have $25,000 in life insurance to be paid to my beneficiary when I die. That will most likely be my wife. How should she go about claiming the life insurance?

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Spousal annuity and dual career FERS employees

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Q. My wife and I are both federal employees nearing retirement. What are the pros and cons of deciding not to have a spousal annuity for either one of us since we will have our own benefits, including our own Thrift Savings Plans and Social Security?

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Survivor annuity and Social Security

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Q. My deceased husband retired from civil service by disability and received monthly payments until his death. During his working years, he paid for my spousal annuity benefit. I now receive my own Social Security account.

The problem is, there is a deceased ex-wife listed ahead of me on record. In the chance I’m able to prove her deceased status, will I qualify to receive both my Social Security and spousal annuity?

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Survivor annuity and Social Security

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Q. I am a 2012 CSRS retiree. My wife will soon be eligible for Social Security retirement, as she is closing in on the 40 quarters benchmark. When I die, and she receives the CSRS survivor monthly benefit, will her own Social Security retirement benefit be affected by the windfall elimination provision? (Her Social Security benefit will be minimal, having just reached the 40 quarters).

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Survivor annuity

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Q. My husband passed away in 2004. He was retired when we married, and I am wondering if I am able to receive any benefits from his pension. We were married for 25 years. He was a postmaster and worked for the Postal Service for 30 years.

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Insurable interest vs. survivor annuity

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Q. I am a retired federal employee under CSRS Offset. My male partner and I are getting married soon. My pension is set up so he has an insured interest. I took a reduction in my monthly annuity, so if he survives me, he will get a portion of my pension. I believe it is 35 percent. As married spouses, how will this change? What percentage would he get? Would my annuity be reduced some more for him to receive the spousal as opposed to insured interest annuity?

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