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Frequently Asked Questions Retirement

  • Check with your local personnel service center to verify that you have enough service and meet the age requirements for retirement eligibility. They can provide personalized assistance because they have your employment records. Your local personnel service center will also talk with you about the date your annuity payments can start based on the date you pick.
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  • Monthly payments to a surviving spouse generally continue for life unless your spouse remarries before age 55. If your spouse was married to you for at least 30 years, he or she can continue receiving benefits when there is a remarriage before age 55 occurring after January 1, 1995.
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  • If you meet the eligibility requirements for a retirement benefit, you are eligible to receive an annuity based on your length of service and your high-3 average salary. The information in your application is used to determine if you are applying for a disability option, a regular or early-out option, or a discontinued service annuity. It is also used to check the service listed on your payroll records.
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  • We only withhold Federal income tax. You may find that the Federal income taxes withheld from your first interim payment will be higher than the Federal tax withholdings from your subsequent interim payments and regular annuity. We will make any necessary tax withholding adjustment when we finish processing your application. Your health and life insurance coverage will continue while you are receiving interim pay. We will begin withholding health and life insurance premiums retroactive to the commencing date of your annuity, when we finish processing your application.
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  •   As of February 2012, our average processing time is 5 months from the date we receive your final paperwork from your human resources and payroll offices.  Of the current pending claims workload, 47 percent are less than 2 months old and 25 percent are older than 6 months.   If we need additional information from you or your former employing agency, your claim will take longer to process.  Additional time will also be needed if we need to contact you to make a benefit election, such as a decision to make a service credit deposit, or if we need to contact an external agency, such as SSA for an offset calculation.
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  • Please select the retirement system and date of adjustment from this list.
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  • 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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  • Use Services Online to report the change in your mailing address when you move. If you changed banks because you moved, you should also use Services Online to give us your new account number and the routing number (found next to your account number on the bottom of your check) for your financial institution. When you change the account you use for direct deposit, keep the old account open until a payment is posted to the new account. This will prevent having the payment returned if there is a problem with the new account. You can also call us or write us to change your mailing address. If you write, your letter should include your claim number. If you are enrolled in the health benefits program in a plan that serves a limited geographic area, you will need to change plans if you move out of the service area. See our web page at http://www.opm.gov/insure/health/index.asp to view the list of plans from which you can choose and find out how to get brochures for those plans. Once you have picked your new plan, call us to change your enrollment or if you need more help.
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  • You can keep your basic life insurance in retirement if all of the following conditions are met:
    • You have coverage when you retire;
    • You have not converted coverage to an individual policy;
    • Your annuity begins within 30 days or, (However if you are retiring under the Minimum Retirement Age (MRA) plus 10 provision of the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) and you have postponed the commencing date of your annuity, health and life insurance coverage is suspended until your annuity begins) and,
    • You were insured for life insurance for the five years immediately preceding retirement or the full periods of service when coverage was available.
    You can keep your optional life insurance in retirement if all of the following conditions are met:
    • You are eligible to continue your basic coverage; and,
    • You were covered by the optional life insurance for the five years immediately preceding retirement or the full periods of service when coverage was available, if less than five years.
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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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