Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Supplements and interim payments

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Q: I’m in a law enforcement officer position and was wondering if the Federal Employees Retirement System supplement is also paid to new retirees while on interim payments, or are the interim payments only partial payments of the FERS basic annuity?

A: The special retirement supplement is only paid when you case has been finalized and you are receiving your full annuity. You’ll receive catch-up payments of your special retirement supplement along with any additional annuity you are owed because you were in interim pay.

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Eligible for SRS after voluntary early retirement?

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Q: I was recently offered voluntary early retirement from the U.S. Postal Service. I have 30 1/2 years of credible service, I am under the Federal Employees Retirement System, and I am 51 years old. I am also considered a reduction-in-force employee because our district office has been closed. Do I qualify for the special retirement supplement?

A: You would be eligible for the special retirement supplement when you reach your minimum retirement age, which is 56.

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Social Security and special retirement supplement

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Q: My wife could receive an offer to retire early sometime this year because of budget cuts. She is 57 years old and has 27 years of federal service under the Federal Employees Retirement System. She will receive the FERS annuity supplement supplement until she is 62. Will she have to start taking her Social Security benefits at age 62 because she is receiving the annuity supplement, or can she hold off taking her Social Security until a later date?

A: While the special retirement supplement ends at age 62, there is no requirement that a retiree apply for a Social Security benefit at that time.

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Social Security and FERS benefits

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Q: I am a federal employee covered under the Federal Employees Retirement System. I am also paying Social Security taxes. Would I receive 100 percent of my retirement from both systems given that I retired at the stipulated age? Will my Social Security pension change my FERS pension?

A: If you retire on an immediate annuity after reaching the right combination of age and service (62 years old with five years of service, 60 with 20, or at your minimum retirement age with 30), you’ll receive an unreduced FERS annuity and, if you retire before age 62, the special retirement supplement, which approximates the Social Security benefit you earned while employed under FERS. The SRS will end at age 62, when you’ll be eligible for a Social Security benefit based on all your Social Security-covered service. As you can see, there won’t be any offset.

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Taxes and FERS, SRS annuities

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Q: Are the Federal Employees Retirement System and special retirement supplement annuities subject to federal income tax? If they are, and your FERS annuity is greater than $15,000, will the special retirement supplement be reduced?

A: The special retirement supplement is subject to federal (and, where applicable, state) taxes. However, your special retirement supplement would only be reduced if you had earnings from wages or self-employment. The Social Security earnings test doesn’t count other sources of income, such as annuities.

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MRA+10 and the special retirement supplement

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Q: I have been working at the U.S. Postal Service for 26 years. I am 58 years old, and I will retire very shortly. I know that I cannot collect the special retirement supplement under these conditions, but will I start to receive the supplement when I turn 60? Or does retiring under the Minimum Retirement Age +10 provision require me to forfeit the SRS totally?

A: No one who retires under the MRA+10 provision is eligible to receive the special retirement supplement. That’s the law.

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Special supplement check

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Q: Is the Special Retirement Supplement check taxable each month?

A: The Special Retirement Supplement is included in your annuity payment and is taxed at the same rate.

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