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Retirement FAQs

FERCCA

  • We've asked agencies not to correct any retirement coverage errors they discover if the employee has been in the wrong plan for at least 3 years. We want them to leave the employee in his or her current retirement plan, place a flag on the retirement application package, so that when OPM receives it, it can be readily identified as a FERCCA case requiring special handling. We won't hold up paying your benefits until you have an opportunity to choose. We'll put you on our benefit rolls. When we have all our counselors in place, we'll give you a chance to talk to a counselor, weigh the benefits of both retirement systems, and choose the one that best fits your needs.
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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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  • Your widow will be able to make the same choices that you would have been able to make. While we will provide election information and benefits counseling as soon as possible, we will make special provisions for those individuals who need to make an election immediately. If you are still working, let your agency know, and it will contact OPM. If you have already retired, contact OPM directly by calling us toll free at 1-888-767-6738.
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  • TSP stands for the Thrift Savings Plan. The TSP is an important benefit designed to help you save for your future. The TSP is comparable to a private-sector tax-deferred 401(k) plan. You can participate in the TSP if you are covered by FERS, CSRS, or CSRS Offset. The TSP offers all participants:
    • Tax deferral on contributions
    • A choice of 5 investment funds
    • A loan program
    • In-service withdrawals for financial hardship or after age 59
    • A choice of post-separation withdrawal options
    • The ability to transfer money from other eligible retirement savings plans into your TSP account
    The TSP is especially important for FERS employees because it is one of three parts of your retirement coverage. Beginning July 1, 2001, FERS employees can contribute as much as 11% of basic pay each pay period, up to the IRS annual limit. (The IRS limit for 2001 is $10,500.) As a FERS employee, you can receive 2 types of agency contributions to your TSP account, which together can equal as much as 5 percent of your basic pay.
    1. Agency Automatic (1%) Contributions. When you become eligible, your agency automatically deposits into your TSP account an amount equal to 1% of your basic pay each pay period, even if you do not contribute your own money. After 3 years of Federal civilian service (or 2 years in some cases), you are vested in these contributions and their earnings.
    2. Agency Matching Contributions. When you become eligible, your agency will match the first 3% of basic pay you contribute each pay period dollar for dollar. Each dollar of the next 2% of basic pay will be matched 50 cents on the dollar. You are immediately vested in the matching contributions.
    CSRS employees do not receive any Government contributions in their TSP accounts. However, CSRS employees can still take advantage of the TSP to provide a source of retirement income in addition to your CSRS retirement benefit. Beginning July 1, 2001, CSRS employees can contribute up to 6% of basic pay each pay period.
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  • Yes. You can get lost earnings on the make-up contributions you already made to your TSP account, if you decide to stay in FERS. You cannot get lost earnings if you choose CSRS Offset coverage over FERS.
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  • We at OPM will send reports to agency headquarters benefits officers that list the agency employees that are registered in the FERCCA File database. Benefits Officers should review the list and send us the points of contact for each employee's payroll and human resources offices.
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  • No, you can't elect to change your FERS retirement coverage if you took a refund of all FERS retirement deductions
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  • You'll have a choice, but by leaving, you limit your options considerably. That's because MRA + 10 retirements are unique to FERS. You may not be eligible to retire under CSRS, where you need 30 years of service to retire at 55. If you leave Government, your choice would be to stay in FERS and take an MRA + 10 retirement that can begin immediately, or choose CSRS Offset and wait until age 62 to receive a deferred retirement.
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  • FERCCA does not give you a choice about Social Security coverage. If you should have had Social Security coverage during your Federal employment, then you must have Social Security coverage in addition to your Federal retirement coverage. You have no choice. If your agency incorrectly put you in CSRS when it should have put you in CSRS Offset, it must correct your retirement coverage to CSRS Offset. You will not be able to get the full amount of the refund you were expecting. Your previous agency should have sent the Social Security Administration a record of your earnings during all the years you should have had Social Security coverage. All of the CSRS contributions you made during those years that are not needed to cover your retirement costs were transferred to Social Security. Your refund was based on the retirement contributions that should have been withheld from your pay. It did not include amounts that were properly withheld, but erroneously considered retirement deductions rather than Social Security taxes.
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  • Lost earnings are earnings that you would have received if your TSP make-up contributions were deposited when they would have been deposited had you been in the correct retirement plan.
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  • 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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  • You'll be able to make all new elections, if you choose CSRS Offset coverage. If you decide to waive your military retired pay, you will be able to waive it back to your retirement date. Also, you'll have an opportunity to pay the military deposit. Since you owed a FERS military deposit when you were in FERS and would owe a larger CSRS deposit if you choose CSRS Offset coverage, you can take an actuarial reduction in your annuity instead of paying the CSRS military deposit. The actuarial reduction is based on the amount of military deposit you owe and your age at retirement. Before you're asked to choose retirement plans, OPM will give you information about your benefits under both CSRS Offset and FERS. They will tell you how much your military deposit is under both. They will also explain how payment of a military deposit and the actuarial reduction will affect your benefit.
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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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  • No, you do not have to pay it back. The lump sum benefit you received is known as the Basic Employee Death Benefit. It is equal to half of your spouse's final salary plus an additional amount. Surviving spouses choose whether they want to receive this benefit in a single payment or in equal installments over 36 months. This benefit is only available under FERS. FERCCA has special rules for surviving spouses who choose CSRS Offset rather than FERS and were paid a Basic Employee Death Benefit. Instead of you paying it back, OPM will apply an actuarial reduction when it calculates your CSRS Offset survivor benefit.
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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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Total Count: 150, Number of Pages: 10, Page: 6
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