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Frequently Asked Questions Retirement

  • You can roll over lump sum payments representing your retirement contributions, including voluntary contributions, and applicable interest.

    An eligible payment can be paid either to you or directly to an individual retirement account or other employee 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 roll over to an individual retirement account or an employer-sponsored retirement plan that accepts roll overs. 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 roll over. 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 roll overs. You can roll over 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 not withhold any amount for Federal income tax 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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  • If at age 62 you are eligible for Social Security, we will recompute your retirement benefit to "offset" any part of your Social Security benefit that is based on your years of Federal service under the offset plan.
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  • You should review your Official Personnel Folder (OPF) to make sure that there is verification of all of your military and civilian service. If any of the records are missing, your employer should help you document the service and obtain any missing records.

    If you have civilian service for which you must pay retirement contributions or repay a refund of contributions, your employer should tell you about what impact payment or non-payment has on your eligibility and the amount of your retirement benefit.

    If you owe a payment to receive credit for military service you performed after 1956, you must make that payment before you retire. If you are receiving military retired pay, you should discuss whether or not you must waive the retired pay with the personnel officer at your agency.

    Your personnel officer can also tell you about receiving credit in your annuity computation for various types of service and about the payments described above, as well as help you with service documentation.

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  • 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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  • 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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  • If you are a widow or widower of an individual who died as an employee or retiree, your survivor annuity begins on the day after the employee's or retiree's death. If you are a widow or widower of a former FERS employee who was separated from Federal service when he/she died, but had not yet retired, your annuity begins on the date the deceased former employee would have been eligible for an unreduced annuity.  You have the option to begin receiving the benefit at a lower rate on the day after the former employee’s death. 

    If you are eligible for benefits and we are unable to pay you because a former spouse is entitled, your annuity would begin the day after the former spouse loses entitlement to benefits.

    If you are eligible for a survivor annuity because of your insurable interest in the life of the annuitant, your survivor annuity begins on the day after the annuitant's death.

    If you are a former spouse who was awarded a survivor annuity based on a court order, your survivor annuity begins to accrue on whichever day is later: the day after the employee's or retiree's death or the first day of the second month after we receive a certified copy of the court order along with any additional necessary supporting documentation. If you are a former spouse who is eligible for benefits based on the retiree's election of a reduced annuity to provide the benefit, your annuity begins to accrue the day after the retiree's death. If you are eligible for benefits and we are unable to pay you because another former spouse is entitled, your annuity would begin the day after the former spouse loses entitlement to benefits.

    If you are a child of a deceased employee or annuitant, your survivor annuity begins to accrue on the day after the employee's or retiree's death.

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  • We will send you a personalized statement titled "Your Federal Retirement Benefits". It details, among other things, how much your monthly payment will be. It also confirms such things as health and life insurance coverage, and provides information you will need to prepare your tax returns.
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  • If you are receiving regular payments and you have not received your temporary numeric password or you have lost your current password. Select the Forgot Claim Number/Password from the SOL Home page within the Login box. You can request a password by either Email or by Mail. To receive a password by email, you must have an email address on file within SOL and you must have already established and be able to answer your personal security questions.

    For security reasons, you cannot use the online password request system to request a temporary password if your account has not been accessed within a 15 month period or if your account has been deactivated. You must contact our Retirement Operations Center at 1-888-767-6738 and speak to a customer service agent to request a new password.

    Do not request a new Password if:

    • You have already requested a password by mail within the last 7 days or, for requests by email, if you have requested a password by mail within the last 4 days.
    • You have called the Retirement Operations Center and requested a new password
    • You have already requested a password by email within the last 24 hours.

    By requesting a new password in any of the above instances, you will further delay your access to SOL.

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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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    • 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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