Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Special category employee retirement and new income

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Q. I am 51 and retired with 22 years with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. In our agency, we could retire at age 50 with 20 years of service or at any age with 25 years of service. Our maximum retirement age is 57. I thought I understood from retirement training that in our special circumstances, earnings rules did not apply until we reached age 57, or when we would have been forced to retire. In other words, after early but full eligibility retirement, we could work and we would not be penalized or limited with new income, in that it would negatively affect our current retirement annuity. That includes a Social Security supplement that law enforcement retirees receive. A retired co-worker/friend says I am wrong about that. He says we actually are limited until age 57, at which time we can earn as much as we are able without it affecting our retirement and Social Security. Please advise. I am being offered a job with which I would really like to be involved, but I am concerned that it will pay me too much if my co-worker is correct.

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Social Security supplement and retirement at 45

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Q. In September 2016, I will be eligible for retirement at age 45 with 25 years of service in the 0081 series, which is covered under special retirement. Will I be eligible immediately for the Social Security supplement at age 45?

A. Yes.

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Monthly Social Security estimate

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Q. If I retire early and can receive the Social Security supplement at age 56, how can I find out from Social Security how much I will be getting each month in the supplement?

A. You can’t. You’ll have to go to and get an estimate of your Social Security benefit at age 62. When you have the figure, plug it into the following formula: Social Security benefit estimate x your total years of FERS service rounded to the nearest year ÷ 40.

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Social Security earnings limits

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Q: If I retire with 30 years of federal service under the Federal Employees Retirement System at my minimum retirement age of 56 and I go back to work outside of the federal government, will I lose my Social Security supplement?

A: If you exceed the Social Security earnings limit, your special retirement supplement will be reduced by $1 for every $2 you earn. In 2010, that limit is $14,160.

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Reserve retirement and FERS

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Q: I am a dual-status Army Reserve technician about to retire, and my Federal Employees Retirement System workers and I are confused as to whether we can receive both the Social Security supplement and our Army Reserve retirement money without deductions taken from either amount. For example, I will retire at age 56 under FERS, which qualifies me for a Social Security supplement of $1,045 until age 62. I also become eligible for the Army Reserve retirement check for about $1,500 at age 60. So far, no one can tell me whether we will lose part of our our supplement; up until this point, all of our retirees have been under the Civil Service Retirement System.

A: Yes, you may receive both benefits without a reduction in either. That’s because the Social Security earnings limit, which could reduce the amount of the special retirement supplement, is based solely on earnings from wages or self-employment. All other forms of income, including annuities, aren’t counted.

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