Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

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 »

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.

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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Survivor benefits and taxes

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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?

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Social Security

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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?

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Survivor benefits

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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?

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Medicare Part B

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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?

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Medicare

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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.

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Losing spousal annuity

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Q. My friend is a widow who was married for 42 years. Will he lose his spouse annuity if he remarried?

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