By Reg Jones
Q. I am 55 years old and took an early retirement offer with an incentive from the Postal Service in August of last year. I had 26 years of full service. I am considering an opportunity to become re-employed part time with the U.S. Forest Service as a GS4 information receptionist at the local visitor center. This is a seasonal position lasting six months a year. How will this affect my Thrift Savings Plan withdrawals and my special retirement supplement when I turn 56? I retired as an EAS-18 postmaster.
February 26th, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. I retired under FERS at age 56 and with 30 years. I am receiving an annuity and supplemental annuity and went back to work as a rehired annuitant for same office/agency. Is my supplemental annuity subject to the reductions for the earnings test?
January 31st, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. I am planning to retire this year at age 60 with 29.7 years of service under FERS. I understand that I will receive the annuity plus special retirement supplement. However, as a widow, I am also allowed to receive my husband’s Social Security payment at age 60. Does this reduce the special retirement supplement? Also, does the special retirement supplement act as earned income under the Social Security earnings test? Finally, does the check you receive after you retire for annual leave count as earned income under the Social Security earnings test?
A. Only earnings from wages and self-employment count. Therefore, the special retirement supplement doesn’t count. However, your lump-sum payment for unused annual leave does. Fortunately, you’ll be covered by the “first year rule,” which usually eliminates the possibility that your special retirement supplement would be reduced.
December 20th, 2012 | Uncategorized
Q. I turn 56 in August. Is the earnings test calculated from Jan. 1 or after my birthday?
A. The Office of Personnel Management only reduces the special retirement supplement of FERS retirees after it is notified by the Social Security Administration. Give them a call at 1-800-772-1213.
November 26th, 2012 | Uncategorized
Q. I am a GS-1811 law enforcement officer in FERS who is scheduled for mandatory retirement in December 2013. If I retire then or, say, retire before 62 (in the event I get another federal position), is there an earnings test on the Social Security supplement payable to me before I reach 62?
A. If you retire before your minimum retirement age (not age 62), you’ll be able to earn as much as you want without it affecting your special retirement supplement. However, as soon as you reach your MRA, the earnings test will apply. MRAs range between 55 and 57 depending on your year of birth. In 2012, the earnings limit is $14,640.
August 13th, 2012 | Uncategorized
Q. I retired at the end of December. I received my lump sum annual leave payout in January. I am receiving a FERS annuity in addition to my pension. Will this money be counted toward the earnings test for 2012?
A. No, your lump sum annual leave payment won’t be subject to the Social Security earnings test. That’s because you’ll be covered by the first year rule. See www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2/rule.htm. Note: Only earnings from wages and self-employment are subject to the earnings test, not annuities.
July 19th, 2012 | Uncategorized
Q. I need clarification regarding the blog “2012 outlook eases slightly with COLA’s return” and the FERS annuity supplement. If I retire under FERS with 6c law enforcement coverage at age 51 and my minimum retirement age is 57, at what time will I be subject to the earnings test and my supplement reduced if my earnings exceed the permitted amount? Your comments about “two exceptions” make it sound as though those under 6c are not subject to the earnings test at all, before or after the minimum retirement age. Yet your last sentence, “In either case, when you reach minimum retirement age, you’ll be subject to the earnings limit” sounds as though we are subject to the test. Are we or are we not exempt from the earnings test? And where can I find that in the literature from the Office of Personnel Management?
A. Law enforcement officers, firefighters and air traffic controllers who retire before their minimum retirement age are: 1) entitled to receive the special retirement supplement and 2) exempt from the Social Security earnings limit until they reach their MRA. From then on, they are subject to the earnings limit.
April 2nd, 2012 | Uncategorized
Q. If I continue to work with the federal government at age 62 and beyond, can I still collect early Social Security at age 62? And stop paying Social Security?
A. While you could apply for a Social Security benefit at age 62, because you had earnings from wages or self-employment, you’d be subject to the Social Security earnings test. The limit for 2012 is $14,640. If you are under full Social Security retirement age, your Social Security benefit would be reduced by $1 for every $2 above that limit. Further, regardless of your age, as long as you have earnings from wages or self employment, you will have to pay Social Security taxes.
August 25th, 2011 | Uncategorized
Q. I am a Federal Employees Retirement System employee and plan to retire at my minimum retirement age (56), with 31 years of service (July 2016). It is my understanding that my retirement income would consist of three components: pension, Thrift Savings Plan annuity, and Social Security supplement, until age 62. I also know that the SSS is subject to the minimum earnings test. However, the pension portion of my retirement will not be subject to the minimum earnings test.
Will my TSP annuity be subject to the earnings test? If so, what options do I have to allow me to receive the SSS until age 62? Do I defer my TSP annuity until age 62? Is age 62 to 67 (my full retirement age) also subject a minimum earnings test?
A. The Social Security earnings test applies only to earnings from wages or self-employment, not to other sources of income, such as annuities.
Q: I retired at age 52 under a Federal Employees Retirement System law enforcement (1811) retirement. I am now 55 and am employed. I generally understand the earnings test that will apply to my FERS supplement beginning the year I reach my minimum retirement age, but I am not clear how it is calculated the first year. I will reach my MRA in 2011 at the age of 56. Are my earnings for the entire year of 2011 calculated, or do they only calculate the earnings after I turn 56? I have not been able to get an answer from the Office of Personnel Management on this.
A: There’s a special rule for the first year you retire. How your income will be treated is spelled out in a Social Security Administration publication. You’ll find it here.
Q: For those covered under the law enforcement provision of the Federal Employees Retirement System, is the Social Security earnings test applied toward funds received from their Thrift Savings Plan if those amounts exceed the earnings test for the special law enforcement officer/firefighter Social Security supplement after their minimum retirement age?
A: No. The Social Security earnings test only applies to earnings from wages or self-employment.