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Frequently Asked Questions Retirement

Post-Retirement

  • The withholding changes affect the February 1, 2011 payment and subsequent annuity payments.
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  • This list shows the possible withholdings from or adjustments to your CSRS or FERS annuity payment. The list provides a description of the withholdings or adjustments and the code that is used for listing them on your annuity adjustment notice.

    However, it does not include the enrollment codes for plans under the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program. See our web pages at http://www.opm.gov/insure/health/index.asp to obtain information about health insurance benefits online.

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  • Services Online is our online tool for annuitants.  You will need your CSA or CSF number and a password.  If this is your first time using Services Online, you will need to setup your personal security questions. 

    Using Services Online, you can:

    • View and print your annuity statement
    • Start or change direct deposit and/or change financial institutions
    • Start or change Federal Income Tax withholding
    • Update your mailing address
    • Update your email address
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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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  • Cost-of-Living Adjustments are effective each December first. The adjustment appears in your payment on the first business day of January, which is when your benefit for December is paid. Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) and FERS Special Cost-of-Living Adjustments are not provided until age 62, except for disability, survivor benefits, and other special provision retirements. FERS disability retirees get the adjustment, except when they are receiving a disability annuity based on 60 percent of their high-3 average salary. Also, under FERS, if you have a CSRS component, the component is subject to the CSRS COLA calculation.
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  • If you get married after retirement, you can elect a reduced annuity to provide a survivor annuity for your spouse. You must make this election within two years of the date of your marriage.

    Under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), you can elect any portion of your annuity as a basis for the survivor benefit payable in the event of your death.

    Under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), a full benefit is 50 percent of your unreduced annual basic annuity and a partial benefit is 25 percent of your unreduced annual basic annuity.

    If you remarry the same person to whom you were married at retirement, you cannot elect a survivor annuity greater than the one you elected at retirement.

    There will be two reductions in your annuity if you elect to provide the survivor benefit. One will be the reduction to provide the survivor benefit. The first reduction depends the amount you elect for the survivor annuity.

    Your annuity is also reduced by a permanent actuarial reduction equal to the difference between the new annuity rate with the survivor benefit and the old one without the survivor benefit since your retirement, plus 6 percent interest. In most cases, the actuarial reduction amount is less than 5 percent of your annuity. The actuarial reduction continues even if the marriage ends.

    When you contact us, we will send you a statement describing the cost of the election and ask you to confirm your election.

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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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  • You should call us at (202) 606-0222. If we do not have a court order for child support, alimony, or bankruptcy, you can send a facsimile to us at (202) 606-7958 when a garnishment is involved. We need a certified copy of the court order and other supporting documents when an apportionment or survivor annuity is involved.
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  • The “Making Work Pay” tax credit expired December 31, 2010. As a result, you may see an increase in the amount of Federal income tax being withheld from your monthly annuity payments. The tax withholding tables published by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) were adjusted to provide for the correct withholding amounts without this credit. The tax rates did not change; only the tax withholding tables changed.

    For more information concerning the 2011 Federal tax withholding tables go to IRS Notice 1036, TABLE 4—MONTHLY Payroll Period. For other questions on Federal taxes, go to www.irs.gov.
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  • Under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) Offset program, a survivor annuity for your spouse is computed in the same manner as a survivor annuity would be computed based on full CSRS coverage. However, under CSRS-Offset, your spouse's annuity may be reduced if he or she is eligible for social security benefits based on your federal service. If he or she is not eligible for social security benefits, the civil service annuity is not reduced. See additional information about death benefits.
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