Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Retirement and insurance with more than 30 years in CSRS

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am 55 with 36 years of federal employment, including two one-year breaks in service. The last break was in 1985. I withdrew the funds I had paid into CSRS each time I broke service and have repaid a minimal amount of it. I thought I would be one of those people who worked forever; however, I have a progressively degenerative medical condition and likely will not be able to work more than another year at the most. I am totally ignorant about retirement and to what benefits I am entitled. For example, will my pension benefits be reduced because I am retiring early? Do I continue to pay the same health insurance rates once I retire until I become eligible for Medicare? Will my health benefits remain the same until I become eligible for Medicare? I used the pension calculator and am more confused. For example, I calculated using the percentage for the first five years and the different percentage for the next five years, and then the 2 percent for the remaining years past 10. Is this the amount plus interest, plus matching funds what I pay into CSRS from my paycheck, or do I have to do yet other calculations? I have requested a meeting with my HR department, but it has to wait until it receives information for payroll and tells me it will be weeks before I can get a meeting. My neurosurgeon and neurologist are telling me I should consider retiring immediately, but I need to make this major decision as knowledgeably as possible.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , , ,

FEHB coverage options

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am 64, under CSRS, and my wife is 55, under FERS. I am the subscriber for FEHB. If I retire, would it be advantageous to have her carry health insurance for our family, or should I just continue with things as they are?

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , ,

CSRS survivor benefit and FEHB coverage

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am a CSRS employee. I understand that to continue my wife under my Federal Employee Health Benefits, I must elect a survivor benefit of at least $1.

My medical insurance payments will, of course, be taken out of my monthly annuity. Will she be able to continue these payments at the same rate if I die before she does?

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , ,

Social Security, CSRS and survivor benefits

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am a retired CSRS postal worker and have opted for a survivor benefit. I do not qualify for Social Security. My spouse has about 24 years of SS payments from her jobs. If I die, are her benefits, either CSRS survivor benefits or Social Security, affected? If she dies, am I entitled to any of her Social Security benefits?

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , ,

Social Security benefits for survivor of CSRS employee

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am a retired CSRS employee, not eligible for any Social Security benefits. When I die, will my spouse’s survivor annuity be reduced because she is receiving her own Social Security benefits?

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , ,

Obama health care law and FEHB changes

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am a CSRS retiree. I retired in 2005. I am a subscriber to the Federal Employee Health Benefits program, specifically Blue Cross-Blue Shield’s Standard Option with family coverage. My wife and I are also qualified for Medicare Parts A and B. That makes Medicare the primary coverage and FEHB/BC-BS the secondary coverage for any health benefits paid.

1. What (if any) changes in the plan’s coverages are anticipated for 2014 and beyond, due to the health care law? 2. Does OPM anticipate that current retirees/program members will be forced into a health care provider’s coverage offered under the law? Starting in 2014, will federal retirees be forced into that law’s coverage rather than having the option to choose our own coverages under current program?

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , ,

CSRS, Social Security and annuity

Bookmark and Share

Q. I retired in 2001 from the FAA under CSRS. I have 33 quarters of Social Security. If I go back to work and earn an additional seven quarters and apply for Social Security benefits, will that same amount of money be subtracted from my annuity?

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, Social Security and retirement

Bookmark and Share

Q. I plan to begin collecting Social Security at age 66 in CSRS. I have met my 40 quarters and 30 substantial salary requirements. Additionally, I took a two-year break to work in the public sector. When I retire at age 69 with 40 years’ service and begin collecting my CSRS annuity, will I be able to collect Social Security?

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , ,

CSRS employment and Social Security

Bookmark and Share

Q. I retired under full CSRS (none offset) in January 2010 with 35 years’ federal service as a GS 14/10. I am 59 and don’t have the 40 credits required to receive Social Security benefits when I turn 62.

Is it worth it to take a part-time job just to get my 40 credits in, or will there be a reduction to my federal retirement that will hurt more than it will help? I haven’t earned very much in the private sector — just a few years before I became a CSRS employee in 1977, including the time I served in the Army, which I bought back to add to my CSRS time (included in the 35 years), but still paid a very small amount to Social Security while serving in the Army.

I have an opportunity to start a small business (~$10,000 per year).

Would it be better to have the business in my wife’s name to add to her Social Security rather than affect my CSRS? Or will I expect to see a small Social Security check when I hit age 62 if I get my 40 quarters in with Social Security?

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , ,

Withdrawn post office retirement funds

Bookmark and Share

Q. I started in the post office in 1976. I left the post office for a university job in 1984. I returned to the post office three months later because of low expectations of the employees at the university by the university. I withdrew my retirement because I believed I would not be back.

If the amount is not paid back, what percent of my post office retirement will be affected? OPM can tell me what I owe, but no one has an answer for this question until I retire!

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 disability and military redeposit

Bookmark and Share

Q. I’m a 55-year-old CSRS employee filing for disability retirement from the USPS. I have eight years military but have redeposited only half of what is required.

Will I be able to continue making deposits while OPM reviews my case? And if not, will I get my initial deposit back in a lump sum?

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , , , ,

Disability payments and survivor benefits

Bookmark and Share

Q. After 25 years of service, I was approved for OWCP disability. Now, 15 years later and at age 68, I am still receiving the annuity. If I die still receiving OWCP benefits, will my wife receive survivor benefits from my CSRS service? Should I leave the money in the CSRS or draw it out?

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , ,

High-3 and pay differentials

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am a federal worker at a VA hospital. I am a General Schedule employee under CSRS. I switched to night shift and work lots of weekends to boost my last three years of earnings. I read in OPM under CSRS/retirement/High-3 Average Salary, “Your basic pay is the basic salary you earn for your position. It includes increases to your salary for which retirement deductions are withheld, such as shift rates. It does not include payments for overtime, bonuses, etc.”

I still am not sure if night shift will work out to a bigger retirement annuity. I make plenty more in my night differential pay for night tour. What I noticed is retirement deductions in my Pay Statements remained the same as before when I worked the day shift. This is puzzling.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , ,

Retiree death and lump sum for survivor

Bookmark and Share

Q. My father passed away at the age of 62 after 20 years with the Forest Service (most of those years as law enforcement.) He passed away just shy of two months after his retirement day and thus didn’t receive a single annuity check. I am his only survivor, and I’m trying to determining what the lump-sum payout will be. Is there any way to estimate what he paid in? He was set to receive roughly $22,000 year for 30 years. What percentage of that would his contribution actually be?

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , ,

Service credit for part-time work

Bookmark and Share

Q. My previous and current employers added seven years to my service computation date for my work at USDA from April 1, 1981, through March 31, 1988.

The credit is documented in SF-50-B forms from these agencies dated Oct. 15, 1994, and Feb. 19, 1995. My current employer’s Employee Self Service website also incorporates this seven-year credit in calculating my estimated monthly annuity. My current employer’s HR unit, however, will give me only one year and two months’ credit under FERS for my work at USDA because the work was part time.

Since more than five years of my service at USDA took place before FERS started, am I entitled to an annuity calculated under CSRS rather than FERS rules?

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , ,

NAF employment and federal rehire

Bookmark and Share

Q. I was a nonappropriated funds government employee from 1979 to 1990 holding UA7, UA8 and UA9 positions (AAFES and Army NAF). I resigned in 1990 and have worked in the private sector since.

Now I plan to return to federal government employment as a GS5 or GS7.

How will my service time count toward retirement, and is it possible to repay my NAF pension funds into the system? Also, how will my accrued sick leave be handled?

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , , , ,

Part-time service and maximum government pension contribution

Bookmark and Share

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , , ,

FECA and Social Security

Bookmark and Share

Q. I retired Jan. 1, 1985, under CSRS with 25 years of federal service.

I also qualified for total and permanent disability under FECA benefits based on injury June 23, 1983. I had no employment under FERS.

I elected FECA benefits. Before my employment with the government, I also qualified for regular Social Security retirement benefits for work in the private sector with fewer than 15 years of substantial earnings. Can I receive full FECA benefits and Social Security retirement benefits at the same time? If so, would there be any reduction in the Social Security retirement amount?

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , ,