Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

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

Bookmark and Share

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?

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , ,

CSRS Offset and Social Security

Bookmark and Share

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , ,

Survivor annuity for widow

Bookmark and Share

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , ,

FERS, CSRS Offset and service

Bookmark and Share

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?

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , , , ,

Social Security disability and CSRS retirement

Bookmark and Share

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?

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , ,

CSRS offset retirement money question

Bookmark and Share

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , ,

Staying in CSRS versus FERS or CSRS offset

Bookmark and Share

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?

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , ,

CSRS offset and annuity

Bookmark and Share

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?

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , ,

CSRS offset and not collecting Social Security

Bookmark and Share

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?

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , , , ,

CSRS offset and Social Security

Bookmark and Share

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?

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , ,

CSRS offset and retirement timing

Bookmark and Share

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?

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , , , ,

Change in retirement plan

Bookmark and Share

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , ,

Appropriate retirement system for mail carrier

Bookmark and Share

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?

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , ,

Disability and pension access

Bookmark and Share

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , ,

CSRS offset, temporary work and FICA

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am retiring under CSRS offset. In 2007, I worked as a temporary employee for four months. During that time I paid FICA, but not the additional 0.8 percent toward my retirement. OPM states that I need to pay the full 7 percent to get full credit toward my retirement.

Given that the CSRS offset contribution is 7 percent, divided by 6.2 percent toward FICA and 0.8 percent toward CSRS, wouldn’t paying an additional 7 percent be a double payment toward FICA? Shouldn’t I just be liable for the 0.8 percent deposit? If I must pay a full 7 percent, will this affect my SS offset amount?

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , , ,

Government pension offset and windfall elimination provision

Bookmark and Share

Q. I’m trying to understand how my retirement income will be affected by the government pension offset and windfall elimination provision.

I’m a CSRS Offset employee (55 years old) contemplating retirement in the next year with more than 32 years’ service. I also receive a monthly spousal annuity from my deceased wife’s CSRS service. I understand that when I turn 62, my own CSRS pension will be reduced by whatever Social Security amount I’m eligible for (should be more than 30 years of Social Security earnings), but I just read something indicating that my spousal annuity also might be reduced at age 62 due to the windfall elimination provision. Can you shed light on how this will unfold?

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , , ,

CSRS annuity, other income and taxes

Bookmark and Share

Q. I plan to retire this year and start my own business. I am CSRS Offset and 55 years old. How will any income I make from my business affect my pension and taxes?

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , , , ,

Sick leave and creditable service

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am a CSRS Offset employee in a law enforcement position. I plan to retire Sept. 1 at the age of 50 with eligibility service credit of 23 years, nine months, and 12 days. I have over 650 hours of sick leave. My computation service credit is 30 years, 11 months, and nine days without including the 650 hours of sick leave. Does including the 650 hours of sick leave to my computation service credit provide me with any additional annuity? Also, will my annuity be based on my eligibility service credit or my computation service credit?

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , , , ,

CSRS offset and Social Security

Bookmark and Share

Q. I will avoid the windfall elimination provision if I have 30 years of substantive earnings. Is that still the case if 15 of those earning years for Social Security occurred under CSRS offset? Also, I am 66. Can I receive Social Security, even though I am still working under CSRS? If I can collect Social Security, in a few years, once I retire, how will that affect the Social Security I would collect? Would it be reduced or my CSRS annuity be reduced?

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , ,

CSRS offset and annuity

Bookmark and Share

Q. I returned to federal service at age 63, after a 30-year break in service, as a CSRS offset employee. I am trying to understand the rule for applying the offset to my CSRS benefit. I know there are two calculations to get the offset amount and the lesser of the two is the one applied. I would have qualified for Social Security at age 62 as a result of my employment record outside government service and before returning to federal service. The first calculation seems to indicate 62 as the age to apply the offset calculation; therefore, I would have no offset applied to my CSRS benefit. Am I interpreting this correctly, or does another rule apply to me?

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , ,