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Frequently Asked Questions Retirement

  • The five year period before retirement is important because you must have insurance coverage for five years immediately before retirement to keep it after retirement.

    You may also need some preliminary information to make decisions about when you can afford to retire and whether to make any necessary payments to receive credit for military or non-contributory service or repay any retirement contribution refunds.

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  • The Office of Federal Employees' Group Life Insurance (OFEGLI) will pay life insurance benefits in a particular order, set by law:

    • If the annuitant or employee assigned ownership of life insurance, OFEGLI will pay benefits in the following order of precedence:
      • First to the beneficiary designated by the assignee(s), if any;
      • Second, if there is no such beneficiary, to the assignee(s).
    • If the annuitant or employee did not assign ownership and there is a valid court order on file, OFEGLI will pay benefits in accordance with that court order.
    • If the annuitant or employee did not assign ownership and there is no valid court order on file, OFEGLI will pay benefits in the following order of precedence:
      • to the beneficiary designated;
      • if there is no such beneficiary, to the widow or widower;
      • if none of the above, to the child(ren), with the share of any deceased child distributed among the descendants of that child (a court will usually have to appoint a guardian to receive payment for a minor child);
      • if none of the above, to the parents in equal shares or the entire amount to the surviving parent;
      • if none of the above, to the executor or administrator of the estate; or
      • if none of the above, to the next of kin as determined under the laws of the State where the annuitant or employee lived.

    If you are an annuitant, you can download [119 KB] the Standard Form (SF) 2823, Designation of Beneficiary, and instructions, or contact us and ask that they be sent to you.

    You need to keep your designated beneficiaries' addresses current. Failure to do so may mean that your beneficiary cannot be located and therefore benefits will not be paid to that person. The preferred way is to file a new Designation of Beneficiary when a beneficiary's address changes. A new address cannot be added directly to the Designation of Beneficiary form itself, since any cross outs, erasures, or alterations in your form may make it invalid.

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  • If you are not receiving social security benefits, you can have Medicare premiums withheld from your annuity payments. We must receive a request for the withholding from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. We cannot withhold premiums based on your direct request or even one from the Social Security Administration. However, the social security district office may be able to give you additional information.
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    • The beginning and ending dates for each period of employment which will be used for your benefit computation;
    • The effective dates for each promotion or within-grade increase during the period that will be used to compute your high-3 average salary;
    • The dates of pay changes or earnings and the pay rate, during employment periods when retirement deductions were not withheld from your salary;
    • The tour-of-duty during any part-time employment (if you worked more hours than the official tour-of-duty, document the hours actually worked.);
    • A record of time actually worked during intermittent or "when-actually-employed" service; and,
    • Documentation of the dates of military service.

    If any service is not verified or any of the required documentation is missing, you should obtain assistance from your personnel officer.

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  • If you are the surviving spouse of a deceased retiree, recurring monthly payments may be made to you if your spouse elected a reduced annuity to provide the benefit. To qualify for the monthly benefit, you must have been married to the retiree for at least nine months. A survivor annuity may still be payable if the retiree's death occurred before nine months if the death was accidental or there was a child born of your marriage to the retiree.

    A court order awarding a former spouse a survivor annuity may prevent us from paying you the portion of the annuity awarded under the court order. However, if otherwise eligible, you may receive the complete annuity if the former spouse loses eligibility for benefits.

    Read about survivor benefit elections.

    If no survivor annuity is payable upon the retiree's death, any remaining portion, representing either the remaining annuity and/or retirement contributions not paid to the retiree, is payable to the person(s) eligible under the order of precedence.

    See how the amount of the monthly survivor benefit is determined.

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  • Your agency will guide you through the retirement process, supplying all of the information you need about retirement and insurance. They provide the information you need to plan for retirement, but should not advise you on what to do. You should contact your local personnel service center for assistance because they have your employment records.
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  • For more information regarding Federal income taxes, visit the IRS website at www.irs.gov or call the IRS on 1-800-829-1040.
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  •  If your 1099R Statement Box 2.a for the Taxable Amount is marked as 'Unknown'; this means that OPM did not calculate the tax-free portion of your annuity.   Some of the most common reasons for not calculating the tax-free portion of your annuity: 

    • Your case is a Disability Retirement
    • You retired prior to November 19, 1996
    • You have Voluntary Contributions
    • Apportionment was paid to your former spouse(s)
    • Your case has not been finalized and you are in Interim pay status
    • You have Survivor benefits payable and/or
    • Your case is an Office of Workers Compensation case

    OPM CAN NOT provide tax advice.  Please contact the Internal Revenue Service toll free at 1-800-829-1040 to speak with an agent who will provide free tax advice. 

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  • After your personnel agency takes action, your agency payroll office:

    • Authorizes your final pay check and lump sum payment for unused annual leave;

    • Prepares your "Individual Retirement Record," Standard Form 2806 (CSRS) or 3100 (FERS) which reflects service, salary history, and annual retirement contributions; and

    • Forwards all retirement documents to OPM.
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  • We only withhold Federal income tax.  You may find that the Federal income taxes withheld from your first interim payment will be higher than the Federal tax withholdings from your subsequent interim payments and regular annuity.  We will make any necessary tax withholding adjustment when we finish processing your application.  Your health and life insurance coverage will continue while you are receiving interim pay.  We will begin withholding health and life insurance premiums retroactive to the commencing date of your annuity, when we finish processing your application.
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