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Frequently Asked Questions Retirement

Pre-Retirement

  • The five year period before retirement is important because you must have insurance coverage for five years immediately before retirement to keep it after retirement. You may also need some preliminary information to make decisions about when you can afford to retire and whether to make any necessary payments to receive credit for military or non-contributory service or repay any retirement contribution refunds.
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  • Your agency will guide you through the retirement process, supplying all of the information you need about retirement and insurance. They provide the information you need to plan for retirement, but should not advise you on what to do. You should contact your local personnel service center for assistance because they have your employment records.
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  • You should review your Official Personnel Folder (OPF) to make sure that there is verification of all of your military and civilian service. If any of the records are missing, your employer should help you document the service and obtain any missing records. If you have civilian service for which you must pay retirement contributions or repay a refund of contributions, your employer should tell you about what impact payment or non-payment has on your eligibility and the amount of your retirement benefit. If you owe a payment to receive credit for military service you performed after 1956, you must make that payment before you retire. If you are receiving military retired pay, you should discuss whether or not you must waive the retired pay with the personnel officer at your agency. Your personnel officer can also tell you about receiving credit in your annuity computation for various types of service and about the payments described above, as well as help you with service documentation.
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  • Your benefit will be computed in the same manner as if it were not subject to offset. However, it will be reduced when you become eligible for Social Security benefits. The offset applies when the basic requirements for Social Security are met, generally at age 62, even if you do not apply for those benefits. If you are not eligible for Social Security benefits at age 62, there is no offset unless you become eligible later.
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  • Your personnel office must take the following actions to process your retirement application:
    • Complete the "Agency Check List of Immediate Retirement Procedures," Standard Form 2801, Schedule D (CSRS) or 3701, Schedule D (FERS);
    • Prepare and obtain your signature on the "Certified Summary of Federal Service," Standard Form 2801-1 (CSRS) or 3701-1 (FERS);
    • Verify any service not fully documented in your OPF; [Note:If documentation is missing, verification may be obtained by contacting federal record centers. If the personnel office is unable to obtain verification, we will complete verification upon receipt of your retirement application and records. This process will cause a delay in processing of your claim.]
    • Certify and transfer your coverage under the Federal Employees' Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) program to OPM;
    • Transfer your enrollment under the Federal Employees' Health Benefits (FEHB) program to OPM;
    • Prepare Standard Form (SF) 50, "Notification of Personnel Action."; and
    • Send all of your retirement materials to your payroll office.
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  • To understand the concept of Phased Retirement, consider two half-time employees who fill one full-time job.  Employee one retires while employee two continues working.  Employee one receives an annuity based on half-time employment, and employee two continues to work half-time for half-pay.  Eventually, employee two retires, and receives an annuity based upon half-time service, including credit for the time worked after employee one retired.  Now assume that employee one and employee two are the same person.  That is in essence how Phased Retirement operates.  While there are additional computational details, these are the basics.  At entry into Phased Retirement, the employee’s annuity will be completed as if fully retired and then divided by two.  That annuity would be paid while the individual worked a half time schedule receiving half pay.  When the Phased Retiree fully retires, there will be a computation of the annuity that would be payable if the employee had been employed full time and then divided by two prior to adjustment for survivor benefits.  That amount would then be added to the original Phased Retirement Annuity, and that combined amount would then provide the basis for survivor annuity adjustment and benefits. The individual’s income during partial and full retirement appropriately reflects the individual’s situation.  During the partial retirement period, the income will be between full retirement and full employment, and the Phased Retiree would be increasing their lifetime retirement income.  At the time of full retirement, the individual would be appropriately compensated for the value of both full-time and part-time service, with an annuity greater than if they had fully retired at the time of transition to Phased Retirement, but less than if the individual had continued employment on a full-time basis during the period of Phased Retirement.
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  • If you are a federal retiree, contact OPM’s Retirement Office at 1-888-767-6738 or retire@opm.gov to check the status of your request.  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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  • We have the authority to waive the five-year participation requirement when it is against equity and good conscience not to allow an individual to participate in the health insurance program as a retiree. However, the law says that a person’s failure to meet the five-year requirement must be due to exceptional circumstances. When someone is retiring voluntarily, a waiver may not be appropriate because he or she can continue working until the requirement is met. When circumstances under these conditions otherwise warrant a waiver, we will notify the individual's employer.
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    • The benefit is not reduced if it begins after your 60th birthday and you have at least 20 years of service or you reach the Minimum Retirement Age and have 30 years of service. Delay of the benefit can be used to avoid all or part of the reduction for retirement before age 62 that would otherwise have been applied.
    • Your life insurance enrollment will stop until the annuity begins. Once the annuity begins, the life insurance coverage you had when you stopped working will resume if you are eligible.
    • Your health benefits can be temporarily continued under the Temporary Continuation of Coverage for 18 months. You must pay the full cost of coverage, including both the employee and government shares, plus a two percent administrative charge. Your employer will collect the premiums and maintain this coverage.
    • When your payments begin, if you are otherwise eligible to continue coverage, you can again enroll in the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program and we will pay the government share of the premiums.
    • If you do not file an application before your death, the rights of your surviving family members would be protected because you would be considered a retiree.
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  • You should contact the Social Security Administration at least three months before your 65th birthday to apply for benefits. The Social Security Administration will have records pertaining to your eligibility for Medicare coverage.  If they do not, and you or your employer need to get a statement of your earnings for this purpose, you can write to: General Services Administration National Personnel Records Center Civilian Personnel Records 111 Winnebago Street St. Louis, Missouri 63118 You should provide the following information in your request:
    • your name, as shown on your payroll records;
    • date of birth;
    • Social Security Number;
    • mailing address;
    • years for which earnings are needed;
    • name and location of employer for each year;
    • reason for request;
    • written signature; and,
    • a statement that all other sources of information have been exhausted.
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