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Frequently Asked Questions Retirement

  • This is a provision that allows you to retire with benefits beginning immediately if you have ten years of service and have reached the Minimum Retirement Age (at least 55). However, the annuity is reduced for each month you are under age 62. The reduction equals five percent per year (or 5/12 of one percent per month). To avoid the reduction, you can postpone payment. You can later apply for the benefit by writing to us or filing an "Application for Deferred or Postponed Retirement," Form RI 92-19. You should submit the form two months before you want the benefit to begin.
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  • The survivor benefit you elected at retirement is no longer payable. A monthly survivor benefit would be payable to your former spouse after death if one is provided by court order or your new election.

    The following conditions must exist for your former spouse to receive a benefit:

    • You were married to your former spouse for at least nine months;
    • You performed at least 18 months of creditable civilian service;
    • Your former spouse to whom you were married less than 30 years has not remarried before age 55.

    Your annuity may be reduced if your former spouse was awarded a survivor annuity by a qualifying court order.

    If you retired on or after May 7, 1985, we will honor the terms of a court order that requires you to provide a survivor annuity for an eligible former spouse for a marriage dissolved on or after May 7, 1985. If you are divorced after retirement from a spouse to whom you were married at retirement, we will honor the court order to the extent that your annuity was reduced at retirement. If you did not elect a survivor annuity for that person at retirement, your annuity will not be reduced.

    If you retired before May 7, 1985, we will honor the terms of a qualifying court order that requires you to provide a survivor annuity for an eligible former spouse in connection with a marriage that was dissolved on or after May 7, 1985, but only if you were married to that person at retirement and elected to provide a survivor annuity at that time or your were married to that person at retirement and elected to provide a survivor annuity before May 7, 1985.

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  • You can be paid for any unused annual leave you hold at retirement.
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  • Please report it here: https://apps.opm.gov/retire/payment/missing_pay.cfm.  If you are unable to use the website, you can report it by contacting OPM’s Retirement Office at 1-888-767-6738 or retire@opm.gov.  The phone lines are open from 7:40 am to 5:00 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time).

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  • We are very much aware of the increasing processing times retirees and potential retirees have been experiencing. Individuals applying for retirement are dedicated Federal employees who have devoted their careers to serving the citizens of this country, and as such, they deserve treatment commensurate with their service.

    The present situation is the result of the confluence of a number of factors. This includes the attempt to utilize an "off-the-shelf" private sector processing system, which ultimately was not successful. We tried to redesign all aspects of retirement processing simultaneously and anticipated that increased automation was the long-term solution. Accordingly, we assumed lower staffing levels would be required. As staff levels were reduced, the volume and complexity of retirement casework increased.

    Our paramount goal is to improve the overall claims adjudication process. There is no simple or easy solution that is capable of instantly remedying the problem, but we are doing everything in our power to improve service to our annuitants as rapidly as possible within the constraint of available resources. We have begun several initiatives to not only speed up claims review but to streamline other attendant retirement procedures.

    We hired 40 legal administrative specialists to assist with the current backlog and future workload.

    We have also authorized additional overtime across the claims processing groups and will continue to approve overtime thru fiscal year 2011. Overtime is also being offered to former claims examiners to help tackle the backlog.

    To assist the retiree's immediate financial needs, OPM established an interim pay process to provide new retirees with income while their retirement benefits are adjudicated. Retirees receive their first interim payment in 5-7 business days from the date the agency's electronic file or paper records are received by OPM.

    OPM uses the information provided by the agencies (at the time the retirement application is submitted) to determine the amount of interim pay. In calculating the amount of the interim payment from the data provided by the agency, OPM:

    • Determines the years and months of creditable Federal service
    • Uses the retiree's final salary
    • Accounts for any survivor election
    • Applies a reduction for age if appropriate
    • Reduces the amount of interim payment to cover premiums for any insurance elections.

    Our goal is to provide the annuitant with as much of their expected NET monthly payment, less Federal income tax withholding. The NET payment amount is the amount of the annuity payment after deducting premiums for health benefits and life insurance from the gross rate. Some retirees receive less than our goal due to a variety of factors. Some of the conditions that could cause the annuitant to receive less than the agency's NET estimate are: a FERS annuity supplement, unpaid service credit deposits, redeposits or military deposits, a court order on file at OPM, or the retiree is entitled to a special computation as a Law Enforcement Officer, Fire Fighter, Air Traffic Controller or other special retirement group.

    In December, we increased all Department of Defense civilian retiree interim payments by 5%. This will affect 29% of the cases. These cases had been receiving a lower than average amount of interim pay based upon the data received at the time of retirement. Additional system changes are in process to provide a 5% increase for certain retirees of the United States Postal Service.

    OPM is currently working with agencies to improve timeliness and quality of personnel/payroll information submissions. Indeed, OPM's Strategic Plan speaks to the shared responsibility for retirement processing among employees, agencies and OPM so resolving these issues is at the very center of the radar screen. Incomplete or inaccurate information from agencies can significantly delay processing and ultimately, a retiree's check. Unfortunately, 23 percent of all claims received are missing one or more records and 11 percent are not received during the first 30 days.

    We are confident that through additional staff, over-time, improvements in interim payments, and collaboration with agencies we will reduce our back-log to more normal levels and fulfill our commitments to the Federal retiree, which has always been one of our highest priorities.

     

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  • Some of an employee’s spousal Social Security benefit may be offset if the employee has a government pension from work not covered by Social Security. The offset does not apply to the employee’s own Social Security benefit, only the benefit that comes from a spouse’s employment. If the Government Pension Offset applies, the spousal Social Security benefit will be reduced by two-thirds of any Federal pension based on employment not covered by Social Security.

    Some employees are exempt from the Government Pension Offset. They are employees who are automatically covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) Offset, and those who elected to transfer to the FERS before January 1, 1988, or during the belated transfer period which ended June 30, 1988. Employees who were covered by the CSRS and who elected FERS coverage after June 30, 1988 must have five years of Federal employment covered by Social Security to be exempt from the offset.

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  • Survivor annuities are payable through the end of the month prior to the date of the event which caused the loss of eligibility. For example, if the remarriage or other event occurred in April, benefits would end on March 31.

    Survivor annuities payable to widows, widowers, and former spouses end if the survivor remarries before age 55 and was not married for at least 30 years to the deceased employee or annuitant. Widows, widowers, and former spouses who remarry after they reach age 55 continue to be eligible for survivor annuity benefits. The survivor annuity for a former spouse who is entitled because of a court order, ends if the terms of the court order are satisfied. Insurable interest annuities are payable for the life of the survivor.

    If an annuity to a surviving spouse ends for a remarriage, it can be restored if the remarriage ends. Before the benefit can be restored, the survivor must pay back any lump sum payment of retirement contributions, if applicable. Former spouse benefits that end because of a remarriage can never be restored. If you want your annuity restored, write to us and include a copy of the decree of divorce, annulment, or death certificate.

    Annuity benefits for children end when the child reaches age 18, marries, or dies. Survivor annuities are payable through the end of the month prior to the date of the event which caused the loss of eligibility. For example, if the child turns 18 on June 29, benefits would end on May 31.

    Benefits for student children, stop at the end of the month before the one in which the student child:

    • turns 22;
    • marries;
    • dies;
    • stops attending school;
    • transfers to a school that is not recognized;
    • changes to less than full-time attendance;
    • enters military service or a Government service academy; or
    • fails to submit certification of full-time school attendance.

    You must notify us immediately if any of the above events occurs to minimize the potential for an overpayment of benefits. Include your claim number and a copy of any appropriate record such as a marriage certificate.

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  • To qualify for payments from the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) or the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), you must submit a retirement application. They are available on our website, as follows:

    You should submit an application for immediate retirement as shown below.

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  • If it is within 30 days of your first regular annuity payment, you may file a new election in writing. You should send the election to:

    U.S. Office of Personnel Management
    Retirement Operations Center
    Post Office Box 45
    Boyers, PA 16017

     

    Your first regular monthly payment is the first one paid in an amount other than the estimated amount or the adjustment payment after we have computed your regular annuity amount.

    If you change your election to anything other than the maximum, you must obtain your spouse's consent or a waiver of the consent requirement.

    After the 30 day period has passed, you can change your election only under the following circumstances.

    If it is more than 30 days from the date of your first regular monthly payment, but less than 18 months from the beginning date of your annuity, you may change your decision not to provide a survivor annuity or you can increase the survivor annuity amount. You must request the change in writing at:

    U.S. Office of Personnel Management
    Retirement Operations Center
    Post Office Box 45
    Boyers, PA 16017

    You must also pay a one-time payment representing the difference between the old and new election amounts. This one-time payment also includes a percentage of your annual benefit. The percentage is 24.5 percent of your annual benefit if you are changing from no survivor benefit to a full survivor benefit or 12.25 percent if you are changing from no survivor benefit to a partial one. Interest is also charged at the rates shown in this table.

    Your written election should include your claim number, the amount of your new survivor election, and your spouse's name, social security number, date of birth, and a copy of your marriage certificate

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  • OPM provides a federal tax calculator on our website, www.opm.gov/retire, that may assist you in determining the amount of Federal income tax to withhold. Please be advised that changing the amount of your Federal income tax withholding will not reduce your tax liability at the end of the tax year.
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