By Reg Jones
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.
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?
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?
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?
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).
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.
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?
Q. I retired from CSRS in 2005 at age 57 and 32 years of service. I elected to provide survivor benefits to my spouse at retirement (55 percent). We were divorced Sept. 16, 2013. However, I have elected to continue to provide survivor benefits for her. Are those survivor benefits tax deductible?
February 13th, 2014 | Benefits COLA Creditable service: CSRS Government pension offset PAY RETIREMENT SOCIAL SECURITY spouse benefits substantial earnings SURVIVOR BENEFITS taxes Windfall elimination provision
Q. My husband is a retired federal employee receiving a CSRS pension. I have been paying Social Security taxes based on my own employment earnings since before we were married.
1. As the wife of a federal employee who is receiving a federal pension, will I receive my full Social Security benefit when I reach retirement age?
2. If I outlive my husband, how much of his federal pension would I receive, and would I also continue to receive my full Social Security?
3. Will he receive Social Security benefits based on employment earnings in nonfederal jobs he held prior to and after his federal employment?
4. If, as a retired federal employee, he will never be eligible for Social Security benefits, should he be paying Social Security taxes — which he has in the past and is doing in nonfederal jobs?
Q. I’m planning on retiring next month. I’m a FERS employee and my wife is a CSRS employee. I waived her survivor benefits and she did mine. We each have our own individual health insurance. If I die, will my wife get what is left of my retirement even though she is a CSRS employee?
Q. I am 61 years old, a retired postal worker. My husband is turning 65 in July. I carry our medical insurance, Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Should my husband sign up for Medicare Part B, or is he required to do so?
Q. Does my wife have to sign up for Medicare? If so, when does she have to sign up? And, if my wife does not sign up for Medicare, will she incur any penalty?
Scenario: I am a working FERS employee, my wife still works and she is not a government employee. I have self-and-family Federal Employees Health Benefits coverage. I am not yet age 65. My wife will turn 65 this year.
Q. My friend is a widow who was married for 42 years. Will he lose his spouse annuity if he remarried?
Q. I have worked 39 continuous years as a CSRS employee and am in the process of getting divorced from my wife of 37 years. We will be dividing the CSRS pension. My wife has sufficient Social Security quarters in the private sector that she will receive a Social Security retirement benefit based on her own record. Her lawyer and the Social Security office in Alabama say that she will incur a government pension offset because she is receiving a pension from which she didn’t pay Social Security. I think they are actually calling this a Social Security Offset. I’ve explained that this shouldn’t apply as she didn’t earn this pension and the GPO only applies to me. I contacted the Office of Personnel Management and have read your blogs on this question and both say her Social Security retirement wouldn’t be affected. What is the correct answer, and is there any direction or publications I can reference to steer us to the right answer?
January 22nd, 2014 | annuity reduction Benefits Creditable service: FERS Early retirement FEHBP HEALTH INSURANCE Minimum retirement age PAY RETIREMENT SOCIAL SECURITY Special retirement supplement spouse benefits
Q. My husband is 66 years old and retired last year with full Social Security benefits. My daughter is receiving Social Security benefits until she graduates from high school at age 18. I was told that had my salary not exceeded the maximum amount allowed, I would also receive some benefits until my daughter turns 18.
I am 54 years old, a federal worker under FERS with 23 years of service. My office is going through a major reorganization. I understand that if I am offered an early retirement, I will have immediate annuities without the 5 percent reduction each year under 62), will have Federal Employees Health Benefits and have the special retirement supplement when I am at my minimum retirement age.
1. I assume that since I won’t have a job, I will be able to receive Social Security benefits until my daughter turns 18 and graduates from high school in June 2016. I will be at my MRA in January 2015. At my MRA, will I be able to continue receiving my Social Security benefits and the special retirement supplement simultaneously?
2. When I turn 62 and the special retirement supplement stops, should I apply for Social Security benefits from my husband’s retirement until I am at my full retirement age (66 and 10 months)? This way, I would have my own full Social Security retirement benefits without reduction. Am I correct?
Q. I left government service in October 1984 and drew out my $11,500 retirement contribution. I returned to government service in October 1987 but have not repaid the refund.
1. If my annuity is reduced permanently due to lack of refund repayment and I die, will my wife’s survivorship election be affected by the annuity reduction continuing until her death?
2. The variable interest rate applied to an early CSRS refund is decided by whom, decided when, and posted when and where? I would like to be able to find it as soon as it is decided and posted in case the interest begins to jump up.
Q. My wife is retired under CSRS and does not have the 40 credits to qualify for Social Security on her own. Can she qualify for Social Security benefits as my spouse? If she does, will the Social Security simply offset her CSRS annuity?
Q. I am CSRS Offset. It is my understanding that when I apply for Social Security, a portion of my CSRS Offset retirement will be SS. My question involves my husband’s collection of his SS. When he passes, will I be eligible for his SS? I know his is more and we are making retirement plans for him.
Q. My father was a retired Postal Service letter carrier. He recently passed away at age 64. My mom, who is 63, will be receiving his pension. He did not pay into or collect Social Security. Does this affect the Social Security benefit that she has been collecting on her own from her own contributions?
Q. Will I be able to receive survivor benefits based on my deceased husband’s Social Security benefit? I am a retired government employee.