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Frequently Asked Questions Retirement

General

  • Make-up contributions are employee contributions that could have been deducted from your pay earlier, but were actually deducted later because of an error. When you are erroneously put in CSRS, CSRS Offset, or Social Security-Only rather than FERS, you are allowed to make up the TSP contributions that you could have made had you been in the correct retirement plan. By law, your TSP make-up contributions must be made as payroll deductions. You can't pay your TSP make-up contributions by check or rollover. Subject to the provisions of the TSP error correction regulations, you can decide how much you pay in TSP make-up contributions and how long you want to take to make the payments. TSP make-up contributions are treated as tax-deferred compensation for the year in which they are made up, but are subject to the elective deferral limit(s) for the year(s) in which they could have been made. So, your make-up contributions will reduce your taxable income for the year that you actually make the contribution. If you are in FERS and decide to pay TSP make-up contributions, your agency must also pay any attributable Agency Matching Contributions.
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  • Social Security benefits are based on earnings averaged over most of a worker's lifetime. Your actual earnings are first adjusted or "indexed" to account for changes in average wages since the year the earnings were received. Then the Social Security Administration calculates your average monthly indexed earnings during the 35 years in which you earned the most. The Social Security Administration applies a formula to these earnings and arrives at your basic benefit, or "primary insurance amount" (PIA). This is the amount you would receive at your full retirement age. As you can see from the above, the benefit computation is complex and there are no simple tables that we can give you that will tell you how much you will receive. However, there are several ways you can find out how your Social Security retirement benefit is figured:
    1. Request a Social Security Statement. You can make your request over the Internet and the Social Security Administration will mail you a detailed report of your lifetime earnings and an estimate of Social Security retirement, disability and dependent benefits: www.ssa.gov/statement.
    2. Compute your own Social Security benefit estimate using a program that you can download from your PC: www.ssa.gov/OACT/ANYPIA/anypia.html.
    3. How Your Retirement Benefit Is Figured is a publication that walks you through the formula for computing your retirement benefit: www.ssa.gov/pubs/10070.html.
    4. See examples of how Social Security benefits are computed at www.socialsecurity.gov/OACT/ProgData/retirebenefit1.html.
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  • The earliest a person can start receiving Social Security retirement benefits is age 62. Your Social Security retirement benefit is reduced if you begin receiving them before your full retirement age. Full retirement age has been age 65 for many years. However, beginning with people born in 1938 or later, that age will gradually increase until it reaches 67 for people born after 1959. Year of Birth Full Retirement Age 1937 or earlier 65 1938 65 and 2 months 1939 65 and 4 months 1940 65 and 6 months 1941 65 and 8 months 1942 65 and 10 months 1943 - 1954 66 1955 66 and 2 months 1956 66 and 4 months 1957 66 and 6 months 1958 66 and 8 months 1959 66 and 10 months 1960 or later 67
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  •   Yes, FERCCA changes the rules on make-up contributions to the TSP for some individuals. Before FERCCA, you did not receive lost earnings on any make-up contributions you had withheld from your pay because of a retirement coverage error. You did receive lost earnings on agency contributions made to your TSP account. Under FERCCA, you can receive lost earnings on your make-up contributions if you choose to stay in FERS. You also continue to receive lost earnings on any contributions your agency makes to your TSP account. Before you're asked to choose retirement plans, OPM will give you information about your TSP benefits under both CSRS Offset and FERS.
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  • If an employee, former employee, or retiree would have had a choice under FERCCA but died before making an election, then the survivor can make that election instead.
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  • Your make-up contributions will be invested based on your most recent contribution allocation. For example, if you currently allocated 75% of the TSP contributions withheld from your pay to go to the C Fund and 25% to go to the G Fund, your make-up contributions will be allocated in the same manner. If you don't have a contribution allocation on file with the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, the make-up contributions will be invested in the G Fund. You may also get lost earnings on your make-up contributions. The amount of the lost earnings you receive are based on the contribution allocation in effect at the time the make-up contributions would have been made had you been correctly covered by FERS. For example, suppose you are going to make-up contributions for the period January 11, 1995 to July 6, 1995. During that period you may had allocated 45% of the contributions withheld from your pay to go to the G Fund and 55% to go to the C Fund. The lost earnings on your make-up would be computed as though 45% of your make-up went to the G Fund in 1995 and 55% had gone to the C Fund. If you didn't have a contribution allocation, the lost earnings will be based on the return of the G Fund.
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  • Yes, the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board issued proposed rules on April 19, 2001.
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  • If you are erroneously covered by FERS and you choose to move out of FERS, FERCCA allows you to keep the employee contributions you made in your TSP account (plus the earnings attributable to your contributions) even if the contributions exceed 5 percent of the basic pay you earned for the pay period that contributions had been made. However, all Government contributions that were made to your account and the attributable earnings must be removed from your account if you do not choose FERS. If you choose FERS coverage under FERCCA, you may make up those employee contributions that you could have made had you been correctly covered by FERS, as provided by the current TSP error correction legislation. In addition, you will receive the agency automatic (1%) contributions and agency matching contributions that you should have received had you been correctly covered by FERS. Finally, you will receive lost earnings on both your employee and agency make-up contributions. (Prior to FERCCA, lost earnings were payable only on agency make-up contributions.) The lost earnings on both employee and agency contributions will be determined the same way lost earnings are now determined on agency make-up contributions (that is, as provided by the current TSP regulations).
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  • Once the review process begins, it takes about 6 weeks (on average) for a decision on the individual's eligibility and for the required quality control reviews.
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  • It depends on when you withdrew your TSP contributions and the kind of withdrawal you made. You can make an election under FERCCA if you:
    • Separated from Government service after your agency corrected your records—but you did not retire—and the TSP automatically paid your account balance to you because it was $3,500 or less;
    • Retired and withdrew your TSP contributions; or
    • Received a financial hardship in-service withdrawal, or a TSP loan.
    You cannot make an election under FERCCA if you:
    • Separated from Government service after your agency corrected your records—but you did not retire—and you withdrew your TSP contributions. This does not include the TSP automatic payment described above; or
    • Received an age-based in-service withdrawal from your TSP account while employed.
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