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Retirement FAQs Post-Retirement

  • The children's survivor benefit is a specific dollar amount established by a formula in the governing United States Code and is increased by Cost-of-Living Adjustments. Each child's rate is determined individually based on the circumstances described below. When the child has a living parent who was married to the employee or retiree, the benefit payable to the child is the lesser of:
    • $469 per month per child; or
    • $1,409 per month divided by the number of eligible children.
    When the child does not have a living parent who was married to the employee or retiree, the benefit payable to the child is the lesser of:
    • $563 per month per child; or
    • $1,691 per month divided by the number of eligible children.
    The rates quoted above are payable from December 1, 2009 through November 30, 2010. They will be increased by future Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) Cost-of-Living Adjustments. If the deceased retired under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) or was an employee covered under FERS at the time of death, the combined benefit of all the children is reduced by the total amount of child’s benefits that are payable (or would, upon proper application, be payable) under Title II of the Social Security Act for the same month to all children of the deceased based on the total earnings of the deceased.  In many cases, the FERS children’s benefit is reduced to $0.
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  • The Go Direct campaign launched in 2005 as part of the U.S. Department of the Treasury's and the Federal Reserve Banks' effort to increase the use of electronic payments for federal benefits and to reduce the use of paper checks for federal benefit payments. With the help of organization partners, media and events, the campaign educates Americans by providing the tools and resources they need to enroll in, or transition to, electronic federal benefit payments.   (Visit www.GoDirect.org for more information about fees and the surcharge-free network.)
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  • Under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), your annuity is reduction by 2.5 percent of the first $3,600 of the amount you choose as a basis for the survivor annuity, plus 10 percent of any amount over $3,600. Under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), your annuity is reduced by 10 percent for a full survivor annuity or 5 percent for a partial survivor annuity.
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  • Yes, the provisions of the law, along with the retirement and the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program regulation are in A Handbook for Attorneys on Court-Ordered Retirement, Health Benefits, and Life Insurance Under the Civil Service Retirement System, Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, and Federal Employees' Group Life Insurance (FEGLI), RI 38-116. [446 KB] You can also order it from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Superintendent of Documents, P.O.Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954. The order processing code is 7612 and the document number is S/N 006-000-01408-9. You can order by telephone at (202) 512-1800. The regulations covering both the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) benefits are in part 838 of title 5, Code of Federal Regulations. The regulations contain extensive model language that the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) encourages attorneys to use in preparing court orders.
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  • People who do not choose an electronic payment option at the time they apply for federal benefits or by March 1, 2013, will receive their payments via the Direct Express® card so they will not experience any interruption in payment.   (Visit www.GoDirect.org for more information about fees and the surcharge-free network.)  
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  • Generally, your income from employment with the Government or any other employer will not affect your survivor annuity.
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  • Yes. The Direct Express® card is a safe, no- or low-cost electronic alternative. No bank or credit union account or credit check is required to enroll. Cardholders can make purchases, pay bills and get cash. This also is an option for those who prefer a prepaid debit card recommended by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Many card services are free, including:  
    • Purchases at retail locations
    • Cash back at retailers at the point of sale
    • Optional notification by phone, email or text message of deposits
    • Optional low-balance alert when account balance falls below a certain level
    • Balance inquiries at ATMs, by phone or online
    • Access to the toll-free customer service number or website 24 hours a day, seven days a week
    • One (1) ATM cash withdrawal in the United States for each deposit posted to the account. ATM owner surcharges may apply at ATMs outside the Direct Express® card surcharge free network.
      (Visit www.GoDirect.org for information about fees and the surcharge-free network.)
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  • A court order dividing your retirement benefits can be modified by either party at any time. However, survivor annuity benefits cannot be approved based on modifications to a court order made after your retirement or death.
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  • You can find this information on our Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) web pages.
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  • The U.S. Department of Labor calculates the change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for urban wage earners and clerical workers from the third quarter average of the previous year to the third quarter average for the current year. For Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) or Organization and Disability Retirement System (ORDS) benefits, the increase percentage is applied to your monthly benefit amount before any deductions, and is rounded down to the next whole dollar. For Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) or FERS Special benefits, if the increase in the CPI is 2 percent or less, the Cost-of-Living Adjustment is equal to the CPI increase. If the CPI increase is more than 2 percent but no more than 3 percent, the Cost-of-Living Adjustment is 2 percent. If the CPI increase is more than 3 percent, the adjustment is 1 percent less than the CPI increase. The new amount is rounded down to the next whole dollar.
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  • If your marriage ends after retirement, you can elect a reduced annuity to provide a survivor benefits for your former spouse. To make an election, you must notify us in writing within two years of the date the marriage ended. You should include a court-certified copy of the decree effecting the dissolution of the marriage, and any property or marital settlement agreement. See where to send the court order. If you were married to the former spouse when you retired and he or she consented to an election of less than the maximum survivor benefit, you cannot provide a benefit that is larger than your original election. The calculation of the reduction in your annuity to provide the benefit for an ex-spouse is the same as the reduction for a benefit for a spouse. When you contact us, we will send you a statement describing the cost of the election and ask you to confirm your election. If you are electing to provide a survivor annuity for an ex-spouse and you remarried, your current spouse must consent to the election.
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  • We can correct or amend your 1099R.  Call us at (888) 767-6738 or send us an email at retire@opm.gov   OPM does not forward corrections or amendments to the Internal Revenue Service.  The corrected or amended form will be mailed to you at the mailing address we have on file.  It is your responsibility to forward the corrected or amended 1099R to the Internal Revenue Service with your amended tax return.  
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  • While all military service may potentially be used in the computation of civil service survivor annuity benefits, military service performed after December 31, 1956, is subject to social security (FICA) taxes and is primarily creditable for social security benefits. However, military service performed after December 31, 1956, can be used for the computation of both the social security and civil service annuity benefit if you pay a deposit before retirement. Using military service to compute the civil service survivor annuity may also be affected by the waiver of military retired pay for civil service retirement purposes. If you are a retiree and have not waived your military retired pay, military service generally cannot be used in the computation of your benefit or that of your survivor's. If an employee has not waived military retired pay for civil service retirement purposes, and dies while still in Federal service on or after April 25, 1987, military service must be used to compute the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) survivor annuity if the military deposit has been paid. However, survivors may elect to exclude such service based on certain factors. Refer to our section on death benefits for additional information.
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  • The appropriate application for Death Benefits under the CSRS or FERS must be filed with an original signature to the Office of Personnel Management.  Your survivor should attach a certified copy of the death certificate, a copy of your marriage certificate, birth certificates of eligible children along with a certified copy of any divorce decree, and property settlement agreement that occurred on or after May 7, 1985.  Applications may be obtained online at opm.gov/retire or by contacting the Retirement Information Office at 1-888-767-6738.
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  • If the recipient is already receiving his/her federal benefit payments electronically, this change will not affect them.   (Visit www.GoDirect.org for more information about fees and the surcharge-free network.)  
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Total Count: 166, Number of Pages: 12, Page: 7
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