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Frequently Asked Questions Retirement

General

  • Yes, if you have been in the wrong retirement plan for at least 3 years of service AFTER December 31, 1986.

    It does not matter that your agency may have already corrected the error or that you have retired or no longer work for the Government. As long as the error was in effect for at least 3 years of your Federal service after December 31, 1986, then you may benefit from FERCCA.

    FERCCA may also affect you if you were put in FERS by mistake and can make, or made, what we call a "deemed FERS election". You don't have to be in FERS for at least 3 years to benefit from FERCCA. See the question, My agency put me in FERS by mistake. When it discovered the error, my agency let me choose whether I wanted to remain in FERS. Do I get another choice under FERCCA? for an explanation.

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  • Make-up contributions are employee contributions that could have been deducted from your pay earlier, but were actually deducted later because of an error.

    When you are erroneously put in CSRS, CSRS Offset, or Social Security-Only rather than FERS, you are allowed to make up the TSP contributions that you could have made had you been in the correct retirement plan.

    By law, your TSP make-up contributions must be made as payroll deductions. You can't pay your TSP make-up contributions by check or rollover. Subject to the provisions of the TSP error correction regulations, you can decide how much you pay in TSP make-up contributions and how long you want to take to make the payments. TSP make-up contributions are treated as tax-deferred compensation for the year in which they are made up, but are subject to the elective deferral limit(s) for the year(s) in which they could have been made. So, your make-up contributions will reduce your taxable income for the year that you actually make the contribution.

    If you are in FERS and decide to pay TSP make-up contributions, your agency must also pay any attributable Agency Matching Contributions.

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  • As long as your retirement coverage error was in effect for at least 3 years of your Federal service after December 31, 1986, then you may benefit from FERCCA. It does not matter that you have retired or no longer work for the Government.
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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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  • No. Whether you are retiring (with a corrected or uncorrected retirement coverage error) or leaving government service, FERCCA has no bearing on your eligibility under the VSIP.

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  • No, FERCCA is not an Open Season. Most employees are unaffected by FERCCA because they were never put in the wrong retirement plan. If you were ever put in the wrong retirement plan, please see the questions under Eligibility to see whether FERCCA applies to you.

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  • Yes. FERCCA does not give you a choice about your retirement plan if:

    • If your agency corrected your records to FERS when it discovered an error and you later separated and took a refund of all FERS retirement deductions, or
    • If you belonged in FERS and your agency corrected your records when it discovered the error and you chose to withdraw your TSP contributions. See the question, I belonged in FERS. My agency discovered the mistake and corrected my records. I withdrew my TSP contributions. Can I now make an election under FERCCA? for the kinds of withdrawals that will prevent you from having a choice of retirement plans under FERCCA, or
    • If you received a payment ordered by a court or provided as settlement of a claim for losses resulting from a retirement coverage error, you may not make an election under FERCCA unless you repay the amount you received or OPM waives repayment.

    You also do not have a choice about your retirement coverage if:

    You are in:

    And you belong in:

    Your coverage must be corrected to:

    CSRS Offset CSRS CSRS CSRS CSRS Offset CSRS Offset Social Security-Only CSRS CSRS CSRS Offset CSRS Offset FERS FERS
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  • Retirees have the same choices under FERCCA that active employees have.

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  • Everyone born in 1929 or later needs 40 credits to be eligible for Social Security retirement benefits. Since you can earn 4 credits per year, you need at least 10 years of work that subject to Social Security to become eligible for Social Security retirement benefits.

    When you work in a job that is subject to Social Security, your wages are posted to your Social Security record and you receive earnings credits based on those wages. The Social Security Administration uses these credits to determine your eligibility for Social Security retirement benefits and for disability or survivors benefits if you should become disabled or die.

    Each year, the amount of earnings needed for a credit rises as the average earnings levels rise. In 2001, you receive 1 credit for each $830 of earnings, up to the maximum of 4 credits per year.

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  • In the coming months, OPM will be providing agencies and employees with detailed information about FERCCA, the different retirement plans, and how you make an election.

    OPM wants to make sure that you receive complete counseling about your options before you make your election. Once you make your election, you cannot change it. OPM will contact you and provide you with detailed information regarding your options under FERCCA. For example, you will know how much you can expect to receive under each retirement plan, including Social Security and Thrift Savings Plan benefits. You do not have to make an election until you have had the opportunity to ask all questions you have about your retirement benefits.

    We at OPM realize that some of you may be postponing retirement or other major events until your retirement coverage error is resolved. While we will provide election information and benefits counseling as soon as possible, we will make special provisions for those individuals who need to make an election immediately.

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