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Frequently Asked Questions Retirement

Information for Payroll Personnel

  • There are many reasons for changing your health benefits enrollment. If you are changing your coverage because of one of the reasons listed below, we can make the change based on your telephone call. When calling you must have your claim number and social security number, as well as the enrollment number and name for your new plan. Changes we can make by phone include:
    • You are changing to self-only coverage from family coverage;
    • You are changing plans because you have moved out of the service area of your Health Maintenance Organization (HMO);
    • You turned 65 and are changing to a lower cost plan option because you are eligible for Medicare;
    • You are changing your enrollment during the annual Health Benefits Open Season, which usually runs from mid-November to early December; or
    • You are changing to family coverage because you marry, or have or adopt a child. (This option is not available to survivors.)
    You should contact us within the period beginning 31 days before up to 60 days after the date of the event. You may change the plan in which you are enrolled or from high to low option coverage during the annual Open Season for electing coverage. If you need assistance with your health benefits enrollment, call 1 (888) 767-6738 , to change your enrollment or if you need to speak with a Customer Service Specialist. Or, see our web pages at http://www.opm.gov/insure/health/index.asp to obtain information about health insurance benefits online. If you are eligible for TRICARE or TRICARE-For-Life benefits, you may suspend your FEHB coverage and premium payments. You are able to reenroll in the FEHB Program during the Open Season, or immediately if you are involuntarily disenrolled from the TRICARE program. Select this link to find answers to frequently asked questions on this topic.
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  •  If your 1099R Statement Box 2.a for the Taxable Amount is marked as 'Unknown'; this means that OPM did not calculate the tax-free portion of your annuity.   Some of the most common reasons for not calculating the tax-free portion of your annuity: 
    • Your case is a Disability Retirement
    • You retired prior to November 19, 1996
    • You have Voluntary Contributions
    • Apportionment was paid to your former spouse(s)
    • Your case has not been finalized and you are in Interim pay status
    • You have Survivor benefits payable and/or
    • Your case is an Office of Workers Compensation case
    OPM CAN NOT provide tax advice.  Please contact the Internal Revenue Service toll free at 1-800-829-1040 to speak with an agent who will provide free tax advice. 
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  • When we receive your retirement application, we will notify you and will provide a civil service claim identification number (a seven-digit number preceded by "CSA"). You must use that identification number whenever you contact OPM about your annuity. To check the status of your form or application, you may contact the Retirement Office at (888) 767-6738 or retire@opm.gov.  The phone lines are open from 7:30 am to 7:45 pm (Eastern Standard Time). It is a busy phone number so we encourage you to call early in the morning or after 5:00 pm when the phone lines are less busy.
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  • Generally, if you are receiving a regular retirement, it will continue and your salary will be equivalently reduced. But, if you retired for disability or because your job was eliminated, your eligibility for the retirement benefit might end. You can discuss this with your prospective employer or provide us with detailed information about the position so that we can let you know if your benefit would stop. We need to know the title, grade, salary, tour of duty, and retirement coverage provided by the position you are considering. If your retirement benefit ends, your health benefits coverage as a retiree stops as well. You can enroll for health benefits where you are employed. Your life insurance as a retiree stops without a right to convert to an individual policy. Your eligibility for life insurance coverage will be the same as any other new employee.
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  • If at age 62 you are eligible for Social Security, we will recompute your retirement benefit to "offset" any part of your Social Security benefit that is based on your years of Federal service under the offset plan.
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  • The U.S. Department of Labor calculates the change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for urban wage earners and clerical workers from the third quarter average of the previous year to the third quarter average for the current year. For Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) or Organization and Disability Retirement System (ORDS) benefits, the increase percentage is applied to your monthly benefit amount before any deductions, and is rounded down to the next whole dollar. For Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) or FERS Special benefits, if the increase in the CPI is 2 percent or less, the Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) is equal to the CPI increase. If the CPI increase is more than 2 percent but no more than 3 percent, the Cost-of-Living Adjustment is 2 percent. If the CPI increase is more than 3 percent, the adjustment is 1 percent less than the CPI increase. The new amount is rounded down to the next whole dollar. To get the full COLA, a retiree or survivor annuitant must have been in receipt of payment for a full year. If not, the increase is prorated under both plans. Prorated accounts receive one-twelfth of the increase for each month they received benefits. Cost-of-Living Adjustments were first prorated in April 1982. Adjustments to benefits for children are never prorated. Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) and FERS Special Cost-of-Living Adjustments are not provided until age 62, except for disability, survivor benefits, and other special provision retirements. FERS disability retirees get the adjustment, except when they are receiving a disability annuity based on 60 percent of their high-3 average salary. Also, under FERS, if you have a CSRS component, the component is subject to the CSRS COLA calculation. Note: A benefit will not be increased if it would cause the annuitant to receive payments in excess of any cap amount specified by law.
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  • If you are not receiving social security benefits, you can have Medicare premiums withheld from your annuity payments. We must receive a request for the withholding from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. We cannot withhold premiums based on your direct request or even one from the Social Security Administration. However, the social security district office may be able to give you additional information.
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  • The Office of Federal Employees' Group Life Insurance (OFEGLI) will pay life insurance benefits in a particular order, set by law:
    • If the annuitant or employee assigned ownership of life insurance, OFEGLI will pay benefits in the following order of precedence:
      • First to the beneficiary designated by the assignee(s), if any;
      • Second, if there is no such beneficiary, to the assignee(s).
    • If the annuitant or employee did not assign ownership and there is a valid court order on file, OFEGLI will pay benefits in accordance with that court order.
    • If the annuitant or employee did not assign ownership and there is no valid court order on file, OFEGLI will pay benefits in the following order of precedence:
      • to the beneficiary designated;
      • if there is no such beneficiary, to the widow or widower;
      • if none of the above, to the child(ren), with the share of any deceased child distributed among the descendants of that child (a court will usually have to appoint a guardian to receive payment for a minor child);
      • if none of the above, to the parents in equal shares or the entire amount to the surviving parent;
      • if none of the above, to the executor or administrator of the estate; or
      • if none of the above, to the next of kin as determined under the laws of the State where the annuitant or employee lived.
    If you are an annuitant, you can download [119 KB] the Standard Form (SF) 2823, Designation of Beneficiary, and instructions, or contact us and ask that they be sent to you. You need to keep your designated beneficiaries' addresses current. Failure to do so may mean that your beneficiary cannot be located and therefore benefits will not be paid to that person. The preferred way is to file a new Designation of Beneficiary when a beneficiary's address changes. A new address cannot be added directly to the Designation of Beneficiary form itself, since any cross outs, erasures, or alterations in your form may make it invalid.
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  • We will send you a personalized statement titled "Your Federal Retirement Benefits". It details, among other things, how much your monthly payment will be. It also confirms such things as health and life insurance coverage, and provides information you will need to prepare your tax returns.
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  • A divorce, legal separation, or annulment court order may require that an employee or a retiree provide a survivor annuity for a former spouse. We will pay based on the court order after a death-in-service or after the death of an annuitant. If the benefit will be based on a court order, employees and retirees [or their former spouses] need to send us a court-certified copy of the court order. Send this to:
    U. S. Office of Personnel Management Retirement Services Program Court-Order Benefits Branch Post Office Box 17 Washington, DC 20044-0017
      If you are still working for the Federal Government, you should also provide a copy of the court order to your personnel or human resources office. All court orders involving garnishments or allotments of your payments from us must be sent to the address given above.
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