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Retirement FAQs

FERCCA

  • If your retirement coverage error was corrected in the past, you have until September 19, 2002, to make your election. Your agency and OPM have the authority to waive this deadline. If you are currently in the wrong retirement plan, you must receive written notice of the error and of your options under FERCCA. If you qualify to choose another retirement plan, you have 6 months from the date you are notified of the error to make your election.
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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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  • 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'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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  • 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 can't elect to change your FERS retirement coverage if you took a refund of all FERS retirement deductions
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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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  • If your agency put you in: If your agency put you in: And you belong in: If your agency put you in: Then you may choose between: CSRS or CSRS Offset FERS CSRS Offset and FERS coverage Social Security only CSRS Offset and Social Security-only coverage FERS CSRS FERS and CSRS coverage* CSRS Offset FERS and CSRS Offset coverage* Social Security only FERS and Social Security-only coverage* *If you already had this choice, you do not have an opportunity to change your election under FERCCA. See the question, My agency put me in FERS by mistake. When it discovered the error, my agency let me choose whether I wanted to remain in FERS. Do I get another choice under FERCCA? for an explanation.
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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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Retirees have most of the same choices under FERCCA that active employees have. The primary difference is your ability to make up contributions to your TSP account. Only active employees can make up TSP contributions, and then only through payroll deductions. If you retire, you would not be able to make up contributions to your TSP account.
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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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Total Count: 152, Number of Pages: 11, Page: 6
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