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Retirement FAQs

  • 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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  • 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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  • Yes. After you retire, you will still have the opportunity to change your enrollment from one plan to another during an annual open season. You cannot change to another plan simply because you retired.
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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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  • If you were under 62 when your disability benefit began, and were not eligible for a voluntary immediate benefit, your benefit will be recomputed after you have been retired for 12 months. The recomputed annuity will be 40 percent of your high-3 average salary minus 60 percent of your monthly Social Security benefit, or your earned benefit, whichever is higher. At age 62, your benefit is recomputed as though you had continued working until age 62. (Your average salary is increased by all FERS Cost-of-Living Adjustments paid while you were disabled.)
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  • Your retirement contributions are not taxable, but interest included in the payment is taxable. You should contact the Internal Revenue Service for additional tax information.
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  • We keep a separate mailing address to periodically send you information about your retirement and health and life insurance benefits. You can see the current record of your mailing address on Services Online. Please notify us if this address changes. (If you do not receive your payments through direct deposit, we ordinarily use the same address for mailings and payments.)
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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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  • You should resolve any financial indebtedness to your agency. Examples of causes for indebtedness include:
    • outstanding travel advances,
    • overpayments of salary,
    • indebtedness for failure to return government property or for damage to government property, or
    • advanced leave.
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  • You can roll over lump sum payments representing the deceased's retirement contributions and applicable interest and the FERS Basic Employee Death Benefit. An eligible payment can be paid either to you or directly to an individual retirement account or other employer sponsored plan. Your choice will affect the amount of taxes you owe. We are required to withhold Federal income tax from taxable payments over $200 at the rate of 20 percent. However, you may choose to take all or part of these payments in a direct rollover to an individual retirement account or an employer-sponsored retirement plan that accepts rollovers. The taxable portion can be rolled over into the Thrift Saving Plan. If you make this election, we will not withhold the Federal income tax from the taxable payments. You can open an individual retirement account to receive a direct rollover. You must contact the individual retirement account sponsor to find out how to have your payment made to your account. If you are unsure of how to invest your money, you may wish to temporarily establish an account to receive the payment. However, you may wish to consider whether or not you may move any or all of the monies to another account at a later date without penalties or limitations. If you choose to have the payment made to you and it is over $200, it is subject to the 20 percent Federal income tax withholding. The payment is taxed in the year in which it is received unless within 60 days after receiving it, you roll it over to an individual retirement account or retirement plan that accepts rollovers. You can rollover up to 100 percent of the eligible distribution, including the 20 percent withholding. To do so, you must replace the 20 percent withholding within the 60 day period. You will be taxed on any amount that you do not roll over. For example, if you roll over only the 80 percent of the distribution, you will be taxed on the remaining 20 percent. You can find more information about the taxation of payments from qualified retirement plans from the following Internal Revenue Service publications: We will withhold Federal income tax of ten percent if your total taxable lump sum is less than $200. We will request a rollover election when you are eligible for a payment of $200 or more.
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  • In many cases, after receiving the report of a retiree's death, we can start monthly payments to those who are eligible based on the records we have on file. In every case, we will tell you what benefits are payable and provide the necessary forms and help to apply for benefits. If you are the survivor of an employee who has passed away while working for the Federal Government, please contact the personnel office of the Federal agency where the employee worked. You should complete the following form- If the employee was covered under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) at the time of death: Application for Death Benefits/CSRS, Standard Form (SF) 2800 [806 KB] If the employee was covered under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) at the time of death: Application for Death Benefits/FERS, Standard Form (SF) 3104 [741 KB] If you are the survivor of an employee who has passed away after separating from a position with the Federal Government under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), but before receiving any retirement benefits, you should file the following form- Application for Death Benefits/FERS, Standard Form (SF) 3104 [741 KB] Attach any other forms and/or evidence as the application or circumstances require. Attach a copy of the employee’s death certificate and a copy of the certificate of the marriage to the widow or widower. Give the application to the personnel office. A widow or widower who is claiming benefits for himself or herself and on behalf of children should file one application. If a lump sum payment is due following the death of someone who passed away after leaving Government service but before retirement, please complete the Application for Death Benefits, Standard Form (SF) 2800 [806 KB] and attach any other forms and/or evidence as the application or circumstances require. Send it to this address.
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  • If your employer sends us your retirement records electronically, via the Data Exchange Gateway (DEG), your account information for direct deposit will be sent to us automatically.  No further action from you is required. Otherwise, include your request to receive your payments by direct deposit with your retirement package.  You can do this by submitting a letter or a Standard Form (SF) 1199A with your application.  You must get the SF 1199A, Direct Deposit Sign-Up Form, from your financial institution. Direct deposit is available to retirees residing in Canada but, generally, it is not available to those whose permanent address for receiving payments is outside the United States. However, retirees living outside the U.S. can arrange to have their payments electronically deposited in a U.S. bank.
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  • A court order related to your divorce or legal separation agreement can:
    • Divide your annuity;
    • Divide a refund of your retirement contributions made when you leave federal service before retirement;
    • Permit your ex-spouse to continue health insurance coverage;
    • Require you to assign your life insurance;
    • Garnish your annuity to pay alimony, child support, in cases involving child abuse, or for Chapter 13 bankruptcy;
    • Award life insurance; or
    • Award a survivor benefit.
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  • Generally, since your coverage under these programs effectively ended when you left Federal service, you cannot continue the coverage into retirement when you receive a deferred annuity.
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  • You can cancel or decrease your coverage at any time. You cannot increase your coverage.
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Total Count: 409, Number of Pages: 28, Page: 6
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