Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

CSRS offset to FERS

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Q. I’m an air traffic controller hired in 1985 under CSRS offset as a flight service controller and later converted to FERS with no explanation. I’m coming up on age 56, does the CSRS exemption for flight service specialists appointed prior to Jan. 1, 1987 apply? If not, which law explains the differences between CSRS and CSRS offset?

A. You were actually hired as CSRS Interim employee (CSRS and Social Security). Because you had fewer than five years of CSRS coverage on Jan. 1, 1987, you were automatically converted to FERS. Therefore, the exemption you referred to doesn’t apply.

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Offset reduction

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Q. I’m looking to retire after 38 years of federal service, including 4+ military & 4+ postal. I left the post office and returned to federal service a year later in 1985. I was included as a CSRS Offset, paid my military deposit and have paid into Social Security for over 39 yrs. When I retire, will my CSRS retirement be affected by a reduction when I apply and receive Social Security, or will my Social Security be reduced? The way I read most articles, is that I will receive my federal pension and Social Security without a reduction. Am I correct? Read the rest of this entry »

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CSRS eligibility

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Q. I worked for the post office from 1980 to 1990 and then quit to attend grad school. Although I’ve since become successful, immediately after grad school I needed money and so withdrew it from my CSRS account. Will I be eligible to go back on CSRS if I return to federal service? Read the rest of this entry »

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CSRS or FERS

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Q. I had 10 years of employment covered under CSRS, then resigned. I came back in 2007 under FERS. I also have two years, five months and 21 days military service. Would it be to my benefit to change to CSRS offset. I plan on retiring May 2015 when I will be 62 with 20 years of service.

A. You can’t change your coverage now. You are a FERS employee who will have a CSRS component in his annuity. If your active-duty service was performed before you first became a federal employee (or while you were covered by CSRS), you could make a deposit and get credit for that time in your CSRS component. If it was between the time you left and were covered by FERS (or while you were covered by FERS), it would apply to your FERS component.

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Retirement under CSRS

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Q. I am a CSRS offset, full-time, Term (NTE April 2015) federal employee. I am also a formal federal employee (all permanent positions) with breaks in service. My service comp date is 1983 and I am 60 years old. Can I apply for retirement now as a Term employee? I have paid into CSRS in my previous and current position. Read the rest of this entry »

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CSRS Offset

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Q. I started with the federal government on Aug. 18, 1986. I was recently reviewing my personnel records and noticed that from that day until Dec. 31, 1986, my retirement plan was listed on my SF-50 as CSRS Offset. Then on Jan. 1, 1987, it was changed to FERS. Were individuals who entered federal employment on Aug. 18, 1986, automatically changed to FERS the following January, or were employees given the choice to choose between CSRS Offset and FERS? Read the rest of this entry »

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Social Security for CSRS Offset employee with private-sector work history

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Q. I am 55. I have put in more than 14 years of federal service as a civilian (11 years from 1980-1991 and three-plus years beginning in 2011 through now). I also put in 23-plus years in private industry paying from Social Security 40 credits. I anticipate working in federal service for an additional seven to 10 years. In general, how will my retirement be calculated to include both the CSRS Offset and Social Security?

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CSRS Offset and Social Security

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Q. I am under CSRS Offset. I am eligible for Social Security under my own record, but also under my husband’s.

Can offset in CSRS be taken from my record if I take my husband’s record, or will it take the offset off my husband’s record? Social Security said I would get more under my husband’s record than my own. So I am wondering if I never apply for my record if my offset will increase each year I don’t take it.

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Survivor annuity for widow

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Q. I’m trying to help a prospective retiree. She is 77 and is receiving a Social Security survivor annuity from her deceased husband. She is in CSRS Offset. The Social Security office seems to be unfamiliar with CSRS Offset and is answering her questions by telling her she’s FERS, which she is not.

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FERS, CSRS Offset and service

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Q. After serving 12 years in the military, I went to work for the federal government Jan. 13, 1982, and left federal service in October 1987, having served five years and nine months. I was in CSRS that entire time. I withdrew my CSRS contributions when I left. I came back to work for the federal government in July 2006 and was placed in CSRS Offset, with the option of going into FERS. I opted to be in CSRS Offset. At that time, I paid the deposit plus interest to get credit for my military time for pension purposes. I read the “Ask the Experts” response of March 30, 2010, where it said that as of Jan 1, 1987, any current employee with fewer than five years of service under CSRS was automatically converted to FERS. On Jan. 1 1987, I was 13 days short of five years, although I had previous military time and more than 13 days of annual leave and sick leave on the books. The “Ask the Experts” answer of Jan. 18, 2012, seems to say that I was correctly placed in CSRS Offset. Other pamphlets I read say you need five years as of Jan 1, 1987. I was 13 days short, excluding military time. I think my military time counted because my service computation date is in 1969.

Now I am concerned that my agency might have placed me incorrectly into CSRS Offset and I might be in for a surprise when I retire. Am I correctly in CSRS Offset? Do I need to take any action?

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Social Security disability and CSRS retirement

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Q. I started getting Postal Service and Social Security disability in 1994. I am in CSRS Offset, not FERS.

I started a job, and they stopped my Social Security disability because my earnings were substantial. I am 65.

I applied for Social Security, since I will be 66 in July. My Social Security is 30 percent less than I received under Social Security disability. The clerk at Social Security said they had been paying me too much disability each month, but since it had been more than four years since the error on their part, they would not try to recover the overpayment. My problem is I am not able to do the job; my disability has caused me to get two warnings that I am underperforming. I am close to being fired. Since I have a ticket to work, my Social Security disability can be restarted without my having to reapply. Do you know if they will start me at my old amount without the 30 percent reduction?

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CSRS offset retirement money question

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Q. A friend has run into some hard times, and I am trying to help him. He says he has worked here as a civil service employee for some time (I can get that info).

When he was hired, he was put into CSRS but was supposed to be in FERS. When that was discovered, he was put into CSRS offset. He says while he was looking at a statement of his retirement money, he noticed a difference of some $40,000 from one of his other statements. He is a WG-10 step 5.

Whom could we talk with to get answers? HR has no answers.

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Staying in CSRS versus FERS or CSRS offset

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Q. I served in the military from June 1974 to April 1981. I was then hired by civil service in April 1983 as a temporary employee. I was picked up as permanent in July 1984, and my service computation date is June 1976.

For whatever reason, when FERS was implemented, I was left in the original CSRS retirement plan and have been paying into CSRS for 29 years and 11 months. I applied for retirement computation last month and was notified by the human resource office that I will have to switch to FERS or CSRS offset to retire. Since I have invested into CRSR my whole career, can I remain in CSRS?

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CSRS offset and annuity

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Q. I received a refund of my CSRS contributions when I separated from federal service in 1993. Four years later, I returned to federal service. I am CSRS offset.

Because I withdrew my contributions from CSRS, and federal service where Social Security taxes are withheld is not affected by the windfall elimination provision, will withdrawing CSRS contributions change my Social Security benefit when I retire?

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CSRS offset and not collecting Social Security

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Q. I am under CSRS offset. I am going to retire in three years at age 62. I know my government pension will be reduced by $213 when I turn 62. According to my Social Security statement, I should receive $888 if I collect at age 62. It states: “At your current earnings rate, if you continue working until 66, you will receive $1,366 a month.” What happens if I don’t collect Social Security at age 62 and wait until full retirement age? Will I receive $1,366 a month minus the $213 offset reduction, minus the windfall elimination provision? (I will have only 20 years under Social Security.) Or will the $1,366 be recalculated since I won’t be paying Social Security from age 62 to age 66? Also, I am divorced and not remarried. My ex-spouse is retired military and under FERS. He has remarried, but I am still entitled to his Survivor Benefit Plan under his military retirement plan. If something happens to him and I start receiving SBP, will my Social Security be affected?

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CSRS offset and Social Security

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Q. I am in CSRS offset, and I am eligible to retire now.

I expect to be working past age 66, when I can collect full Social Security benefits. If I collect the benefits and continue to work, how will my retirement calculation change when I retire? Most, but not all, of the Social Security benefits were earned while I was under CSRS offset.

Also, how would my retirement be affected if I collect the Social Security before age 66?

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CSRS offset and retirement timing

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Q. I am a FERCCA case. I was inadvertently placed in FERS when hired by my agency after eight years in the legislative branch.

I have elected CSRS offset coverage. I have 28 years, eight months of creditable service and am eligible to retire now.

My annual salary and high-3 are not likely to change in the next few years. Are CSRS offset annuities helped by length of service? Would it benefit me to work two or three more years?

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Change in retirement plan

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Q. I started my employment as a CC military spouse in Germany in 1981 (no military service myself), then resigned (as we were directed) just before we returned to the U.S. in late 1983. I got picked up into a fed position in September 1984, which set the dates for leave and retirement as 1982. I had been told I was FERS at that time, and I have been contributing and planning toward that, along with attending the FERS retirement classes. However, when I received an estimate for retirement last year, I was told that I was CSRS Offset, with four years and 10 months of creditable service before being picked up in the U.S. I emailed with HR to make sure of that, and the HR person said that I was CSRS offset.

I now have 31 years of federal employment, and thought I had figured out my retirement numbers, until I received the CSRS offset news.

Since I haven’t firmly fixed a date to retire, I hadn’t really looked into it, but now I am wondering what that means exactly with regard to my retirement numbers.

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Appropriate retirement system for mail carrier

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Q. I am a carrier for the post office. I was hired as a career employee in 1998. I have been under FERS from the start.

However, I also worked as a career employee for the post office between November 1978 and March 1984 under CSRS. I recently filled out Form 3108 to try and buy back those 5½ years toward my retirement. After such a long break in service, will I still remain under FERS, or will I be classified as a CSRS offset?

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Disability and pension access

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Q. I have been receiving Social Security Disability Insurance for a total disability since 2008. From 1981 to 1989, I was a CSRS offset employee in the USPS. When I tried to apply for my CSRS pension, I was informed by letter that I had to wait until I reached age 62, which is unlikely, or withdraw the small amount I contributed as a lump sum. Is it not possible to apply for and receive my CSRS pension when completely disabled? I have read CSRS Pamphlet No. 7 and searched the website Q&A, and I am very confused.

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