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Retirement FAQs Pre-Retirement

General

  • You will get Social Security credit for all that work, and it won't cost you anything. Your agency will send 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 will be transferred to Social Security. This transfer will pay all the Social Security taxes you owe.
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  • No, you don't get a second choice. Certain employees who were put in FERS by mistake could choose to stay in FERS when the agency discovered the error. We call this a "deemed FERS election". If they declined FERS, the agency placed them in the correct retirement plan (CSRS, CSRS Offset, or Social Security only). If you already had this opportunity to choose between FERS and CSRS, CSRS Offset, or Social Security-only; then FERCCA does not give you an opportunity to change your decision. FERCCA may help you, however. If you worked for the Government before you came under a retirement plan, you may be able to get retirement credit for that service by taking an actuarial reduction in your retirement benefit instead of having to pay a deposit. The same may be true for any military service you have. See the questions under the heading Service Credit for more information. Also, if you were in FERS for at least 3 years of service before your agency gave you an opportunity to stay in FERS or have your records corrected, OPM may compensate you for any out-of-pocket expenses you incurred because of the error. See the questions under the heading Out of Pocket Claims for more information.
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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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  • No. The Social Security Law also includes a provision -- the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) -- that reduces Social Security benefits for individuals who have less than 30 years of "substantial earnings" under Social Security and who have earned a retirement benefit from employment not covered by Social Security; for example, CSRS service. The WEP was designed to eliminate the "windfall" that could result if you were to receive a CSRS annuity based on many years of employment not covered by Social Security and also receive a full Social Security benefit because you had a few years of employment covered under Social Security. The WEP, however, never totally eliminates the Social Security benefit you have earned. For example, in 2001, the maximum amount the WEP can decrease a Social Security benefit is $280.50 per month. For more information, see SSA's The Windfall Elimination Provision at http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/10045.html.
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  • When your agency corrected your retirement coverage to FERS, it also should have contributed make-up agency contributions and lost earnings on those contributions to your TSP account. If you now choose CSRS Offset, no adjustments will be made to your TSP account. Instead, OPM will find out how much of your TSP account is based on what your agency contributed (this includes the earnings on those contributions). That dollar amount will form the basis for an actuarial reduction in your CSRS Offset retirement benefit.
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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 agency shouldn't do anything if your error lasted for at least 3 years of Federal service. We have asked agencies to stop processing those retirement coverage corrections until we can work out the details necessary to implement FERCCA. Please be assured that any delay in correcting your records will not adversely affect you.
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  • You can find more information about Social Security benefits at www.ssa.gov.
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  • I am a retiree registered in the FERCCA Database and recently received a letter from OPM informing me that I am ineligible for relief under FERCCA. The letter also included a form that I could fill out and send to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) to appeal the decision. What is the MSPB and what does it have to do with FERCCA? The MSPB is an independent quasi-judicial agency in the Executive Branch that serves as the guardian of Federal Merit Systems. Since it began operations in January 1979, its mission has been to ensure that Federal employees are protected against abuses by agency management; that Executive Branch agencies make employment decisions in accordance with Merit System principles; and that Federal Merit Systems are kept free of prohibited personnel practices. The MSPB accomplishes its mission in a variety of ways, but mainly it functions as a court and adjudicates Federal employee appeals of agency personnel actions. Consequently, the MSPB is the authority that will hear appeals on eligibility verification arising out of cases of erroneous retirement coverage.
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  • No matter which retirement plan you elect, your annuity will be computed as if you were properly placed under CSRS, CSRS Offset or FERS on the effective date of your retirement coverage error. All the eligibility and benefit computation rules for the particular retirement system will apply to the calculation of your retirement benefit.
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  • The Government Pension Offset is part of the Social Security Law that reduces spouse or survivor Social Security benefits for certain individuals who are also entitled to a Federal Government pension. If you retire from the Federal service under CSRS and are also eligible for Social Security benefits as a spouse, former spouse or survivor, your Social Security benefit will be reduced. It is reduced because you are receiving a pension from the Federal Government based on earnings that are not covered by Social Security. For every $3 you receive from your CSRS annuity, your Social Security spousal benefit is reduced by $2. For more information, see SSA's publication, Government Pension Offset at http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/10007.html.
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  • We at OPM have set up a plan to help everyone who is entitled to relief by FERCCA. The plan includes:
    • Identifying individuals and adding their names to the FERCCA File Database (See the question What is the FERCCA File Database?);
    • Gathering information on those individuals from personnel and payroll records and other sources;
    • Verifying options under FERCCA; and
    • Helping individuals who have a choice of retirement plans make informed decisions
    Our goal is to ensure that everyone receives the same high level of customer service. If you have a choice of retirement plans under FERCCA, you'll receive an in-depth comparison of your benefits under each option. The comparison will include how much you can expect to receive under each retirement plan, including Social Security and Thrift Savings Plan benefits. We will provide you with an opportunity for one-on-one personal assistance to help you weigh your options. This individual assistance will be available to anyone who has a choice of retirement plans under FERCCA. We are working with agencies to implement this high level of service as quickly as possible. Agencies are busy identifying eligible individuals. We have also started the second step, collecting personnel and payroll records.
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  • All individuals who are registered in the FERCCA Database before September 19, 2002, will not be adversely affected by the time limits for making an election.   In general, if your qualifying retirement coverage error was previously corrected, the time limit for making an election expires on September 19, 2002. However, your employing agency or OPM (for separated employees, retirees, and survivors) can waive the time limit if it's determined that you exercised due diligence, but could not make an election within the time limit because of circumstances beyond your control. OPM will issue instructions to agencies stating that anyone registered in the FERCCA Database before September 19, 2002, will be considered to have exercised due diligence and should be granted a waiver of the time limit.   If your qualifying retirement coverage error was not previously corrected, you will have 6 months to make an election from the date you receive notice of the error and a statement of your election options.
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  • No, there is no additional cost to you. However, if you choose FERS, you may elect to make additional TSP contributions (known as make-up contributions). These are contributions that you could have made if you had been correctly covered by FERS. Of course, you're the one who chooses how much additional contributions you want to make.
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  • You can get more information about TSP by visiting www.tsp.gov.
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Total Count: 62, Number of Pages: 5, Page: 3
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