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Frequently Asked Questions Retirement

General

  • We at OPM have set up a plan to help everyone who is entitled to relief by FERCCA. The plan includes:

    • Identifying individuals and adding their names to the FERCCA File Database (See the question What is the FERCCA File Database?);
    • Gathering information on those individuals from personnel and payroll records and other sources;
    • Verifying options under FERCCA; and
    • Helping individuals who have a choice of retirement plans make informed decisions

    Our goal is to ensure that everyone receives the same high level of customer service. If you have a choice of retirement plans under FERCCA, you'll receive an in-depth comparison of your benefits under each option. The comparison will include how much you can expect to receive under each retirement plan, including Social Security and Thrift Savings Plan benefits. We will provide you with an opportunity for one-on-one personal assistance to help you weigh your options. This individual assistance will be available to anyone who has a choice of retirement plans under FERCCA.

    We are working with agencies to implement this high level of service as quickly as possible. Agencies are busy identifying eligible individuals. We have also started the second step, collecting personnel and payroll records.

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  • Your agency shouldn't do anything if your error lasted for at least 3 years of Federal service. We have asked agencies to stop processing those retirement coverage corrections until we can work out the details necessary to implement FERCCA. Please be assured that any delay in correcting your records will not adversely affect you.
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  • When your agency corrected your retirement coverage to FERS, it also should have contributed make-up agency contributions and lost earnings on those contributions to your TSP account.

    If you now choose CSRS Offset, no adjustments will be made to your TSP account. Instead, OPM will find out how much of your TSP account is based on what your agency contributed (this includes the earnings on those contributions). That dollar amount will form the basis for an actuarial reduction in your CSRS Offset retirement benefit.

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  • If you have received notification that you are eligible for FERCCA relief (a Letter of Eligibility), processing of your case will continue in order to develop an Election Summary package. This package will be mailed to you and followed soon thereafter by a telephone call from a counselor who will confirm that you received the package, had sufficient time to review it, and who will be prepared to answer any questions that you have about the information in the package and what the next steps are to complete the process.
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  • It depends on when you withdrew your TSP contributions and the kind of withdrawal you made.

    You can make an election under FERCCA if you:

    • Separated from Government service after your agency corrected your records—but you did not retire—and the TSP automatically paid your account balance to you because it was $3,500 or less;
    • Retired and withdrew your TSP contributions; or
    • Received a financial hardship in-service withdrawal, or a TSP loan.

    You cannot make an election under FERCCA if you:

    • Separated from Government service after your agency corrected your records—but you did not retire—and you withdrew your TSP contributions. This does not include the TSP automatic payment described above; or
    • Received an age-based in-service withdrawal from your TSP account while employed.
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  •  

    Yes. You can get lost earnings on the make-up contributions you already made to your TSP account, if you decide to stay in FERS. You cannot get lost earnings if you choose CSRS Offset coverage over FERS.

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  • All individuals who are registered in the FERCCA Database before September 19, 2002, will not be adversely affected by the time limits for making an election.

     

    In general, if your qualifying retirement coverage error was previously corrected, the time limit for making an election expires on September 19, 2002. However, your employing agency or OPM (for separated employees, retirees, and survivors) can waive the time limit if it's determined that you exercised due diligence, but could not make an election within the time limit because of circumstances beyond your control. OPM will issue instructions to agencies stating that anyone registered in the FERCCA Database before September 19, 2002, will be considered to have exercised due diligence and should be granted a waiver of the time limit.

     

    If your qualifying retirement coverage error was not previously corrected, you will have 6 months to make an election from the date you receive notice of the error and a statement of your election options.
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  • Actually, you're probably better off in CSRS Offset because you're earning benefits under both Social Security and CSRS.

    Your combined benefits under Social Security and CSRS Offset will be at least the same as, if not more than, what you would have received under Social Security and CSRS if your record had not been corrected.

    While working, you are earning retirement credits under the relatively generous CSRS formula. You also are adding to any Social Security benefits you have already earned, increasing your career earnings under Social Security and, as a result, your Social Security benefit.

    When you retire, OPM will compute your CSRS Offset benefit under the same rules that apply to other CSRS retirees. When you become eligible for Social Security benefits, OPM will reduce your benefit. This reduction is based on the value of the Social Security benefit you earned during your CSRS Offset service. In other words, instead of getting one check from OPM for all of your Federal service, some of the payment will come from the Social Security Administration.

    In addition, with more of your retirement income paid from Social Security, you have an increased tax advantage because part, or all, of your Social Security benefit will be exempt from Federal income tax. Only a small portion of a CSRS, or CSRS Offset, benefit is excluded from Federal income tax.

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  • FERCCA allows OPM to compensate individuals for certain expenses and losses related to correction of a retirement coverage error.

    OPM will issue detailed guidance regarding the specific types of expenses and losses that will be compensated. You will receive our guidance as soon as it is available if you are registered on the FERCCA File Database.

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  • You may not have a choice about Social Security coverage.

    If you should have had Social Security coverage during your Federal employment, then you must have Social Security coverage in addition to your Federal retirement coverage. FERCCA does not allow you to choose a retirement plan without Social Security coverage.

    If you were incorrectly put in CSRS when you should have been put in CSRS Offset, your retirement coverage must be corrected to CSRS Offset.

    Likewise, if you were incorrectly put in CSRS Offset when you should have been put in CSRS, your retirement coverage must be corrected to CSRS because you are not eligible for Social Security coverage during your Federal employment. You cannot choose to keep your Social Security coverage. However, Social Security will give you credit for all but the last 3 years before your record was corrected. See the question I should have been CSRS. Instead, I paid into Social Security. What happens to the Social Security taxes I paid when my agency corrects my retirement coverage to CSRS? for more information.

    If you were erroneously put in FERS and should have been put in CSRS, then you will have a chance to choose whether you want to keep FERS (and Social Security) coverage.

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