Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

CSRS retirement and Social Security

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Q. I have been a federal employee with the Department of Veterans Affairs covered by CSRS since October 1977 and have four years of military service (I paid the military deposit in full). I am 75 and have started receiving Social Security. I will be retiring in about one year and eight months, having reached 41 years and 10 months years of service, including military service, hoping to have earned or reached the 80 percent retirement annuity. I am at the top level of my GS-12 grade step 10. What will my civil service and Social Security benefits be? Or, how I can estimate the figure?

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Part-time service and maximum government pension contribution

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Q. My entrance on-duty date is May 1971, and I was reading that employees stop getting the government contribution to their retirement at 41 years one month. Would this apply for part-time employees? If not (being optimistic), would they factor in the part-time years of service and add on the years to equate to this timeline? For example, for someone who worked 10 years at 20 hours a week, deduct five years and continue contribution till the total 41 years one month are completed. Also, is there a ratio of how many retirees elect to take out an insurance policy on their spouse versus opting to pay for the survivor benefit? I find many elect to do the insurance option due to cost savings.

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Using retirement funds before retiring

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Q. I have more than 42 years of service, and I am still working. Each pay period, federal retirement funds are still being taken from my paycheck. Where are these funds going? Can I use them while still working?

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Rehired annuitant’s retirement

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Q. I’m a rehired annuitant paying into CSRS.

The first time I retired, I had 44 years of service and received a refund of the overpayment I had paid into CSRS. I have been re-employed for the last 10 years and have paid into the CSRS again. Upon my next retirement, will I get a refund of the money I have paid into the system or just a recalculation of my pension?

A. What would happen is controlled by the 80 percent limit on the amount of annuity you can receive based on your highest three consecutive years of basic pay. If there hasn’t been any change, you’ll receive a refund of your retirement contribution, just as you did when you first retired.

However: If, in the recomputation of your annuity, you would be entitled to an increase to reach the 80 percent limit, you’d receive a new annuity amount and a refund of any contributions above that level.

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Maxing out service time

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Q. What happens upon retirement when one’s total service time exceeds the max (41 years 11 months) with the retirement contributions made even though the max annuity time was reached?

A. You’ll receive a refund of your excess contribution, plus 3 percent interest, and be given the option of purchasing additional annuity that isn’t subject to the 80 percent limit.

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Disability retirement and part-time work

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Q. I am retired through a federal disability retirement system. Can I work for a state or local agency without it affecting my disability status or annuity payments? The job is part time; will not go over the 80 percent rule of income; and is totally different from the job I had when I was approved for federal disability.

A. Yes, as long as you don’t exceed the 80 percent limit and your reports in response to requests from the Office of Personnel Management don’t reveal that you’ve sufficiently recovered from your disabling condition to no longer be considered disabled.

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Salary percentage in retirement

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Q. I have 47 years of service under CSRS; I do not plan on retiring for at least three more years. Will I be able to receive more than the 80 percent of my salary, as the law mandates, or can percentage be added to my time?

A. While 80 percent is the maximum amount of an earned annuity, you’ll receive a refund of all the retirement contributions you made after you worked for 41 years and 11 months and be offered the option of purchasing additional annuity that, like unused sick leave, isn’t subject to the 80 percent limit.

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