Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Earning limits

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Q. I plan to retire under CSRS offset well before I turn 62. I know at 62 my retirement will be recalculated and my annuity check will be split between OPM and the Social Security Administration. When I turn 62 and start receiving my retirement pay from both OPM and the SSA, am I bound by the earning limits set by Social Security (currently $15,480.00 annually)?

A. Yes, you are bound by the Social Security earnings limit. That limit applies to anyone who is under full Social Security retirement age and has earnings from wages or self employment that exceed the annual limit.

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VERA/VSIP

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Q. I am 53 years  and eight months old, I have 28 years and eight months civil service. I am in FERS. My agency is offering the VERA/VSIP. If I submit an application and I am accepted for either of these would this affect my Social Security supplement? My MRA is 56. Does the MRA change with the VERA/VSIP?

A. No, your MRA doesn’t change nor does the amount of the SRS you’re entitled to. They remain the same.

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Military annuity and CSRS

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Q. My husband (age 56) and I (age 53) are reaching the time when we are considering retirement and want to clarify a few things. I am covered under CSRS with 33 years of service. I have worked other jobs but I do not have enough credits to be eligible for Social Security. He is National Guard and will retire with over 30 years of service. He is also a government technician covered under FERS and will be eligible for Social Security. We are both retiring with survivor benefits. I know my husband’s Social Security would offset my CSRS. Will I be able to draw his National Guard military annuity without it affecting my CSRS retirement? What about FERS? Read the rest of this entry »

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Maximum earnings

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Q. You recently answered a question regarding the maximum earning amount for 2014 is $15,480 before the Social Security benefit would be reduced. Does the SSA consider military retirement, VA disability pay, along with TSP disbursements as “earnings”?

A. Those aren’t earnings. Earnings are income received from wages or self employment.

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Waiting for Social Security

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Q. I am 60 and retired three years ago under CSRS with the post office. Will my annuity be reduced if I do not claim Social Security benefits at 62? I want to wait until I am 65 to claim Social Security. I worked nine years under Social Security when I was younger.

A. Because you retired under CSRS – not CSRS Offset – your CSRS annuity will never be reduced. If you are eligible for a Social Security benefit, the fact that you retired from a retirement system where you didn’t pay Social Security taxes means that your Social Security benefit will be subject to the windfall elimination provision. The WEP reduces the Social Security benefit of anyone who has fewer than 30 years of substantial earnings under Social Security. Note: If you only have nine years of coverage under Social Security, you won’t be eligible for a Social Security benefit. You have to have 10 years – 40 credits – to receive that benefit.

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Social Security after marriage

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Q. I am 64 and I am unmarried with a CSRS retirement with no survivor benefits designated. My 62-year-old future wife will begin receiving her Social Security benefits in September. I am not qualified to receive any Social Security benefits although I have paid in for 36 quarters. Will her Social Security benefits be affected by my income after we marry?

A. No, they won’t.

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Social Security transfer

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Q. I am a retired federal employee with CSRS. I also receive minimum Social Security payments based on my qualified earnings. My husband is a retired federal employee, FERS. In the event he passes before me, will I be able to collect/draw any of his Social Security?

A. Probably not because that benefit would be subject to the government pension offset provision. For more information about the GPO go to http://ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10007.pdf.

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Social Security reduction

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Q. I’ve read about the Social Security reduction if your income is above a certain amount. Does the calculation for that amount include the FERS pension and TSP annuity payments? In other words, does the SSA consider my pension and TSP payout to be “income” they will reduce against? Or is the reduction only against “wages” from actual employment income after you reach SSA retirement age? Read the rest of this entry »

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Social Security credits

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Q. I am a CSRS employee who will retire at the end of 2014. I have 36 quarters of work covered under Social Security  before I started federal service and I am trying to decide whether or not to try to get four more quarters of coverage after I retire. I understand the WEP provision. I was told at a retirement seminar that Social Security quarters do not count if earned before the age of 22 or after the age of 62. Is this true? Read the rest of this entry »

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Social Security payment

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Q. I am a 23-year retired military veteran (1968-1991), 30 percent disabled, and I have been receiving military retainer pay since 1991. I then began working for the Veterans Administration as an engineer GS-09 in June 1998, and I am still employed (FERS). But I can retire soon with 16 years civil service gaining a monthly retirement pension from VA and too what I have deposited into TSP. When I retire at 66, which would be next year, what will my Social Security benefit be? I have been told it will be reduced because I have two ‘pensions’ (one from military and the other from VA under FERS), yet I paid into Social Security (FICA during military) and Social Security taxes also under VA. During all my employment time (military and civil service), I have also paid taxes into Social Security, so why would I not get full benefits? Read the rest of this entry »

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Retirement options

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Q. I am a GS-1811 Special Agent with four years until my FERS retirement in 2018 at age 62 (I was “grandfathered in” at age 42). And I have also bought back 12 years of military service time. I failed a PIP due to my ADD/ADHD & depression, and I was recently served with a Notice of Proposed Removal as an 1811. I am in a 3-agent office, four hours away from our Resident Office, and there are no non-1811 jobs available to me in my office’s area. Because I am considered disabled per the ADA guidelines, and the NOPR says I cannot perform well enough as an 1811, are there some sort of retirement options available to me for which I qualify (e.g. medical, disability, Discontinued Service, etc.)? Read the rest of this entry »

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Social Security and pension reduction

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Q. In 2009, I took the postal clerk buyout and retired. I am under CSRS with 32 years with 2 years of military Service included. When military buyback was offered some 25 years ago, I passed. In 2009, the same buyback was almost $10,000 so I passed on that. I am working and will have 37 credits of eligibility toward Social Security at the end of this year. If I continue and become Social Security eligible, how much of my monthly pension will I lose?

A. If you become eligible for a Social Security benefit, you won’t lose a penny of your CSRS annuity. However, your Social Security benefit will be subject to the windfall elimination provision. The WEP reduces the Social Security benefit of anyone who has fewer than 30 years of substantial earnings under Social Security.

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COLA, FERS increase

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Q. When I retire (I will be at my MRA and 31-1/2 years on Dec. 31, 2015) and start receiving the Social Security FERS Supplement, and I start my retirement for 2016, do I receive the Social Security COLA and the FERS percentage increase each year?

A. Neither your annuity nor your special retirement aupplement would be increased by COLAs. Your annuity would first be increased by COLAs when you reach age 62. At age 62 your SRS would end and you’d be eligible for a Social Security benefit.

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Work after retirement

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Q. I am 62 and would like to retire and receive my Social Security. What is the most I can earn per week without my benefit being cut?

A. In 2014 the earnings limit is $15,480. Your Social Security benefit would be reduced by $2 for every $3 you earn above that limit.

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Special retirement supplement and Social Security

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Q. I am looking at retiring next year in FERS as a federal firefighter with 30 years of service at age 53. I will receive the special retirement supplement. Until I turn 62, I will not be (possibly) paying into Social Security, so does that reduce the amount of Social Security I will receive according to my current projected Social Security payments at age 62? If I’m not paying into Social Security during the period before drawing Social Security affects the rate, does that change at age 57 when the earning limitations for Social Security hit even though you are not paying into Social Security? Or is my Social Security statement set due to my firefighter retirement? Lastly, my TSP funds will be taxed as I receive payments as they were tax-deferred, but will they count against the earning limitations for Social Security? Will it make a difference if I purchase an annuity, roll it to another fund or just take a regular monthly payment from TSP in regard to how it relates to Social Security?

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CSRS and Social Security

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Q. I work for the federal government and have 31 years in CSRS. I was born in 1959. I am eligible to retire in August 2014 and will be 55. I also worked in the private sector before becoming a federal employee. I am four credits short of receiving Social Security. If I earn four more credits after I retire, how much will I receive and how much will my CSRS retirement be decreased?

If I could receive Social Security, would it be better to keep working under CSRS/ Social Security? Which would be greater? Should I just work longer under Social Security or stay extra years under CSRS?

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CSRS, Social Security and military service

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Q. I just retired from the federal government Dec. 28 under CSRS at age 66. My service comp date is March 3, 1975. Now I am told I have only 31 years in federal service because they are not counting my six years on active duty with the Army. They say it’s because I’m eligible for a Social Security benefit, and I’m receiving one. I thought they went by the service computation date. If I am required to buy back my military time, of six years, to get a larger monthly annuity, can I still do that? How much will I have to pay to buy back the six years of military? Does it have to be paid all at once? The Social Security Administration representative said my Social Security benefit will be reduced because I’m a CSRS retiree.

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Special retirement supplement withholding

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Q. I am receiving the FERS special retirement supplement, and there is a withholding due to my 2012 earnings. In April 2014, I turn 62 and the supplement ends. How with the withholding due to my 2013 earnings affect my retirement benefit at that time?

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Medicare coverage for pre-1983 federal retiree

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Q. My father retired from the federal government in 1976. For whatever reason, he does not have Medicare Part A. My mother recently suffered a stroke, and because my dad did not have Medicare Part A, rehab at a nursing facility will not be covered. Apparently federal workers did not pay into the Social Security system back then and therefore have had to pay separately for Part A. It took hours of calls to SSA, OPM and Medicare to unravel this bureaucratic mess! BCBS (federal) is his secondary insurance and would not pay because Medicare A is primary.

(BCBS was no help — we tried to get a special benefit created for her, which they could have done, but it was denied.) My dad will be 93 soon, so I do not know how many of these retirees are still alive and were in similar situations and did not know nursing rehab would not be covered.

I wonder if at some time Medicare Part A did not cover nursing rehab and since BCBS is primary for inpatient hospital care, he was advised not to sign on for Part A, which also covers inpatient hospital care.

It is a sad situation for the last of his generation of federal retirees.

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Reduction in force and retirement

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Q. I will be 58 next year, when we are supposed to be RIF with the Postal Service if we have not found another EAS position. At that time I will have 24½ years in and be 58. I understand I will be eligible for DSR.

How is the amount calculated? Is it the same as the FERS amount, is it permanent and can I still receive the FERS supplement? Can I receive DSR and FERS, or just the DSR or FERS? I don’t want to retire but am trying to see how I will be financially if I am part of an RIF. Also, does this affect my Social Security?

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