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Retirement FAQs

Pre-Retirement

  • You should ask for a form SSA-7004-PC, Request for Earnings and Benefit Estimate Statement, from your local Social Security Office or visit their website at http://www.ssa.gov. If you submit this form, you will get a statement that provides information on your future eligibility for Social Security benefits and estimates of these benefits at specified dates. These estimates do not reflect any reduction for the Government Pension Offset or the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP).
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  • When you get within one year of retirement eligibility, you should:
    • Confirm when you will be eligible to get a retirement benefit;
    • Decide when you want to retire;
    • Get information about other benefits to which you may also be eligible, such as Thrift Savings Plan payment options and any other entitlements based on employment, for example: Foreign Service, Social Security, pensions from private industry, and Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA). You should have a fairly comprehensive picture of all sources of your retirement income and when each is payable.
    • Tell your supervisor about your proposed retirement date. You should give sufficient notice to allow for planning for someone to take your place.
    • Attend a pre-retirement counseling seminar.
    • Make an appointment with your personnel officer to review your Official Personnel Folder (OPF) or its equivalent to make sure all your records are complete and accurate, all service is verified, and your insurance coverage is documented.
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  • You should begin planning several years before the date you have set for retirement so that you will know what is required to continue certain benefits into retirement. There are many factors related to retirement planning, and it is literally never too early to begin. The federal annuity is only one element to consider in today's complex financial scene. You may need to start a Thrift Savings Plan or IRA schedule many years before considering actual retirement. Other considerations, such as Social Security may affect your benefits. However, the best place to begin is with your local personnel service center. They can provide personalized assistance and they have your employment records. Your health and life insurance coverages are of immediate concern now because you must carry coverage continuously for at least five years before your retirement or you may be ineligible to continue them.
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  • If you receive a Federal pension and are also eligible for Social Security benefits based on your own employment record, a different formula may be used to compute your Social Security benefit. This formula will result in a lower benefit. The Windfall Elimination Provision affects workers who reach age 62 or become disabled after 1985 and are first eligible after 1985 for a Federal pension. The Windfall Elimination Provision does not apply if:
    • You were eligible to retire before January 1, 1986; or,
    • You were first employed by the government after December 31, 1983; or,
    • You have 30 or more years of substantial earnings under Social Security.
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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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  • 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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  • 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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  • At your request, your employer should provide you with any of the following estimates that apply to your circumstances. However, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management determines the actual amount of the benefit that is payable based on the laws and regulations and on the certified record of your employment.
    • If you receive military retired pay, an estimate of your benefit with and without credit for military service.
    • If you are considering deposit for military service after 1956, an estimate of your benefit with and without credit for the military service you performed after December 31, 1956.
    • If you are considering a deposit, under the Civil Service Retirement System, for federal employment before October 1, 1982, estimates of the amount of the deposit and the amount of your benefit with and without the reduction for the deposit.
    Deposit service ending before October 1, 1982 and covered by the CSRS.
    • If you are considering a deposit, under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), for federal employment on/after October 1, 1982, estimates of the amount of the deposit and the amount of your benefit with and without credit for the employment period. Deposit service ending after October 1, 1982 and covered by the CSRS.
    • If you are considering repaying, under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), a refund of retirement contributions for employment ending before October 1990, an estimate of the amount of the redeposit and your benefit with and without the actuarial reduction taken if the redeposit is not paid. Redeposit service ending before October 1, 1990 and covered by CSRS.
    • If you are considering repaying, under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), a refund of retirement contributions for employment ending after October 1990, an estimate of the amount of the redeposit and your benefit with and without credit for the employment period covered by the refund. Redeposit service ending on/after October 1, 1990 and covered by CSRS.
    • If you are considering a deposit, under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), for federal employment before 1989, estimates of the amount of the deposit and the amount of your benefit with and without credit for the employment period. Deposit service ending before January 1, 1989 and covered by FERS.
    • If you are considering providing less than the maximum annuity payable after your death to a husband, wife, or ex-spouse, estimates of the amount of the survivor's annuity and the amount of your annuity with and without the reduction for full survivor's benefit. View information on family benefits.
    • If you are considering providing a survivor annuity to someone who has a financial interest in your continued life, an estimate of your benefit with and without the reduction for this election. View information on family benefits.
    • If you have made voluntary contributions and can elect to purchase additional annuity with those contributions, benefit estimates with and without credit for the voluntary contributions. View information about voluntary contributions.
    • If you can elect to receive the alternative form of annuity, an estimate of your benefit with and without the lump sum payment of retirement contributions. View information about the alternative form of annuity.
    • For employees, under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), who can elect to receive an annuity supplement, an estimate of the monthly amount payable to age 62.
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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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  • You can help reduce delays in processing by submitting your application in advance and by making sure your Official Personnel Folder (OPF) is complete. If you submit your paperwork early, your personnel and payroll offices will be able to complete their action before your retirement date.
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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.
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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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    • The beginning and ending dates for each period of employment which will be used for your benefit computation;
    • The effective dates for each promotion or within-grade increase during the period that will be used to compute your high-3 average salary;
    • The dates of pay changes or earnings and the pay rate, during employment periods when retirement deductions were not withheld from your salary;
    • The tour-of-duty during any part-time employment (if you worked more hours than the official tour-of-duty, document the hours actually worked.);
    • A record of time actually worked during intermittent or "when-actually-employed" service; and,
    • Documentation of the dates of military service.
    If any service is not verified or any of the required documentation is missing, you should obtain assistance from your personnel officer.
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  • After your personnel agency takes action, your agency payroll office:
    • Authorizes your final pay check and lump sum payment for unused annual leave;
    • Prepares your "Individual Retirement Record," Standard Form 2806 (CSRS) or 3100 (FERS) which reflects service, salary history, and annual retirement contributions; and
    • Forwards all retirement documents to OPM.
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  • 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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Total Count: 218, Number of Pages: 15, Page: 2
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