Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

FERS supplement

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Q. I retired from federal service in February 2010 under the FERS Special system and my MRA is Febuary 2016. I understand that if I work after February 2016, my FERS supplement will be means tested against how much I am making in salary. If I work after my MRA, making 150K for only two years and therefore lose my supplement during that time frame, would the supplement restart after I worked those two years, and would the supplement stay at the same amount as when I retired in February 2010? Read the rest of this entry »

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SRS and earnings limit

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Q. I can retire in June 2014 at 60 with 26 years in FERS. As it will be in June, I will have made more than the $15,000-plus earnings limit. If I max out my TSP contribution (approximately $11,000 for six months), my net working income will drop so I can get under the $15,000-plus earnings limit; will my special retirement supplement the following year be unreduced?

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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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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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Special retirement supplement

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Q. I took a job last year. After reporting my earnings to OPM this year, I will not be receiving a FERS Social Security supplement in the future.

What happens to the money? Do I simply lose the funds? Does this increase my future Social Security payments?

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Secret Service work and retirement

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Q. I have 13 years of service as a Secret Service special agent under FERS.

I am considering leaving the service at 20 years, but I will be only 43. If I understand correctly, I must maintain a government job until age 50 to receive a retirement package that would give me a 41 percent retirement benefit (34 percent from my Secret Service time and 7 percent from the other government work from age 43-50) plus the full FERS special retirement supplement, as well as being able to maintain my FEHB. Is that true? Am I giving anything up by doing that? Do I have to have uninterrupted service with the government, or is it OK to take a couple of years off? Does it have to be full-time employment, or can it be part time? Basically, I have done an excellent job of saving, and I’m trying to figure out a way to get away from the wear and tear of this job after only 20 years and maintain the bulk of my retirement benefits.

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MRA and special retirement supplement

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Q. I have a question about MRA+10 retirement. I am a FERS employee, age 58 with 26 years of service. Can I retire now on an unreduced annuity and also collect the special retirement supplement until I reach age 62? Or do I have to deduct 5 percent for each year I am under the age of 62? Or is the 5 percent deducted from age 60 because I have at least 25 years in? In any case, the ability to collect the supplement would be key for me.

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FERS, special retirement supplement and reduction in force

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Q. I have 29 years of federal service and am 50 and under FERS.

If I am involuntarily separated by a reduction in force at age 50, do I get the FERS Social Security bridge along with my Discontinued Service Retirement, or do I have to wait until I turn 56 to collect the bridge portion of my retirement? Does this start automatically with the DSR, or do I have to apply for the bridge with SSA when I am 56?

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FERS retirement and disability

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Q. I retired in June 2010 at 56 with more than 30 years’ service. I receive a regular FERS retirement, not disability.

But I do have a disability — an above-the-knee amputation.

If I apply for and receive Social Security Disability Insurance, how will my FERS retirement be affected?

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Law enforcement retirement as early as possible

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Q. I’m 44 with 16 years in a covered federal law enforcement position plus three military years (which I haven’t bought back yet). How soon can I retire? When I reach 20 years in service, I’ll be only 48, or do I have to wait to reach 50? Could I retire then, and if so, what would I be leaving on the table?

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SRS and reductions, COLA

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Q. I am 58 and have 23 years of service with the IRS. Two items I have yet to see specifically addressed on the special retirement supplement are: Will my FERS retirement benefits be reduced or lower in any way if I draw the SRS? Also, the amount of the SRS is fixed on the day it is first calculated and isn’t increased by cost-of-living adjustments. Is the non-SRS portion of a FERS employee’s retirement pay still subject to cost-of-living adjustments when the employee is drawing the SRS?

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VERA/VSIP and retirement benefits

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Q. I am a Defense Department civilian and have met my minimum retirement age. I will not be eligible for full retirement under FERS until September 2015.

By then, I will be 60 and will have 30 years of service.

If I accepted a VERA/VSIP (I am on the offer list), would I get hit with an annuity reduction if the offer is not the result of a reduction in force? If I could take the offer without a reduction, would I also receive the special retirement supplement?

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Special retirement supplement and earnings test

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Q. I am retiring at 57, the mandatory retirement under FERS for law enforcement. I know there is something called the first year rule; will the special retirement supplement I receive for approximately five years be subject to the earnings limit? I heard the supplement is not subject to it, but when I reach age 62 and the supplement ends, any Social Security I receive will be subject to it. Can you clarify if the supplement law enforcement officers receive under FERS if retiring at the mandatory retirement age is subject to earnings test? If so, when?

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Military service, buyback and retirement money

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Q. I served five years and six months active duty in the Air Force from January 1989 to July 1994. In 1996, I joined the Air National Guard. I am in the Air Guard and have 24 years of service with eight years’ active-duty time. In 1999, I became a full-time federal law enforcement officer. In seven years, I will be 50 and have 21 years’ covered federal law enforcement. If I buy back my military time to get additional federal retirement, will I still be able to receive my military retirement at 60? Or am I better off not buying back my active-duty time? Also, how does the supplemental Social Security payment factor in until I am eligible to receive full Social Security?

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Years of service and deferred retirement benefits

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Q. If I have 20 years of federal service (including more than 15 in the foreign service) but I haven’t turned 50, can I retire but defer receipt of my benefits/pension until I am eligible at age 50? For example, an employee is 47 years old and has completed 20 years of federal service. Can that employee leave the service and still receive full retirement benefits beginning at age 50?

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FERS, postponed annuity and special retirement supplement

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Q. I’m a FERS employee considering retiring under the MRA+10 provision. I’m 59 with 20 years of service. If I postpone the start of my annuity until I reach 60, I know there won’t be any reduction in my annuity. Will I also be eligible for the special retirement supplement if I postpone my annuity?

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Special retirement supplement and Senate employment

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Q. I retired from the Senate at 50 with 21 years of service. Am I eligible for the special retirement supplement at my minimum retirement age of 56?

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Early retirement’s effects on pension

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Q. I am a 55-year-old city mail carrier with 18-plus years of service. How much of a reduction from my full retirement funds would result if I retired at 57 with 20 years of service?

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Special retirement supplement extension

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Q. I retired from the Postal Service on July 1, 2011, under FERS and am receiving a FERS annuity supplement of $746 per month. I also was awarded Social Security disability in April 2011, with payments starting in November 2011. Can I still receive an annuity supplement when I am 62?

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Earnings limit

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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?

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