By Reg Jones
Q. I recently retired from the Veterans Affairs Department and applied for Medicare Part B coverage. My FEHBP is still in effect. The Social Security office sent forms that appear to need agency certification. Who does this? The employing agency or OPM? I’m not getting answers. OPM’s number is constantly busy, and my former human resources office isn’t returning calls. I’m trying to get the coverage and avoid any financial disaster.
Q. If I retired with 34 years of CSRS benefits and have now earned 40 quarters Social Security, will I be able to draw Social Security benefits?
Q. I retired from the FAA in 2003 with 21 years of service, and I receive 50 percent of my base pay. I also am qualified for Social Security. I bought back my military service. I know my Social Security benefits will be lowered as I receive a pension from OPM. I am planning on taking my Social Security benefits when I turn 62. Will I still receive my 50 percent pension from OPM?
Q. I retired in 2010 with 40 years of service, including four years of military service (1972-1976) that I did not pay back. While I am 62 and don’t qualify for Social Security yet, I recently received a notice that I now qualify for survivor benefits. Will this affect my CSRS annuity? Second, is the one-time Catch 62 check at age 62 in law or process? My concern is that if it is process, then it could easily be changed because of the budget situation to check every year after age 62 or when you start to draw Social Security if you qualify after age 62.
Q. I started work at 16 during the summer to help pay for college.
From 1966 to 1974, I made very low incomes but contributed to Social Security. Then I worked for the Forest Service and became a CSRS employee for five years. I resigned and got a refund on my retirement because I did not think I would work there again. But because I had five years in, the Forest Service says I still have a vested interest in CSRS and will pay me $202/month for that vested service when I retire.
Between 1990 and 1999, I stayed home with my children and occasionally worked as a substitute teacher — once again, low wages that contributed to Social Security. That means I have only about 11 years of substantial earnings toward Social Security. The windfall elimination provision states that my Social Security benefits cannot be reduced more than half of my pension. What pension? The $202 I get from CSRS, the $901 combined pension from the government or the $647 from Social Security? Can’t government brochures be more specific?
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?
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?
Q. I’m getting close to my FERS retirement, and I have a second job that I love. If I refuse my special retirement supplement from the Office of Personnel Management, will I still be financially penalized from my FERS retirement for making too much money from my second job? If so, how can I still continue to work without being penalized?
Q. I would like to know who is responsible for informing employees who work for the government of the windfall elimination provision. I was not told about the WEP until I went to the Social Security office to file for my Social Security retirement. My Social Security benefits were reduced by more than $1,000 per month. I worked hard all my life with two jobs for over 30 years. For what? Just to have my benefits go to someone who did not work but gets benefits. How are you to be informed of this law?
Q. I retired under FERS with over 30 years of service in May 2009 and began receiving the special retirement supplement. The SRS was eliminated when I exceeded the Social Security earnings limit working in the private sector for the next three years. I fully retired in May 2012, after I again exceeded the $15,000 earnings limit for 2012. Do I need to contact Social Security to let them know I am no longer working? If so, is there a form I need to submit? Also, when can I expect my SRS to be reinstated? I won’t be 62 until May 2015.
Q. I was told I am included in the catch 62 provision. I served four years in the Air Force from 1974 to 1978 and began Postal Service employment in 1979 (to present). I’d like to retire this year. I also have 2,282 hours of sick leave, and my service computation begins in 1975.
Q. I retired from CSRS on disability. I have my 40 quarters. My wife is retired from Social Security. Can I draw from her account at age 62?
Q. I retired in 2006 under CSRS as an air traffic controller. I had 33 years of government service between the Air Force and the Federal Aviation Administration. I started receiving Social Security disability payments this month. I receive a periodic statement from the Social Security Administration stating what my benefits are and how much I would receive each month. The statement showed $1,200 a month. I receive $705 a month instead. I’ve earned enough credits working prior to and after my CSRS career. Why am I penalized when I have earned both benefits in my opinion?
Q. I was born in 1966 and my organization may undergo a reduction in force. I anticipate that I will have the 50 years of age and 20 years of service by the time they may offer the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority/Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay. Please let me know if the minimum retirement age counts during a RIF if I am a FERS employee because my MRA is 56½, of which I will only be 50 years of age, so I need to know if I will be penalized 5 percent each year under MRA. Hoping that the 50/20 rule is an exception to being penalized.
Also, how can I find out more about the special retirement supplement?
Q. I am a retired GS-1811 (federal law enforcement) CSRS retiree (2005) with 25 years civil service and 7 years military I bought back. I’m 59 now and when I reach 62 or older and want to collect Social Security, I know my CSRS retirement will be reduced, but by how much? I used SSA.gov/estimator and got the figures, but there was no place to enter the fact I have a federal retirement. Do the figures I received on SSA.gov/estimator already factor my federal law enforcement retirement?
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.
Q. In the first year retirement, you can get your full check after you retire, say, in June, but if you already made $60,000 at that point in combined income with your wife, do you end up paying 85 percent of it back?
Q. Can you please explain “catch 62”? Also, can you qualify for Social Security after age 62 if you fall under the parameters of catch 62? In other words, do Social Security or CSRS check your eligibility only once at age 62, or do they check periodically after age 62? Can your CSRS pension be re-examined if you qualify for Social Security after you reached age 62, i.e. age 65?
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?
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?