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Frequently Asked Questions Retirement

Pre-Retirement

  • Retirement Services strives to complete retirement claims within sixty days. If we need additional information from you or your former employing agency, however, your claim could take longer to process. It may take more time than average if, for example, your retirement claim has special circumstances (e.g. applying a specific retirement law, evaluating a court order, etc.)

    It may also take more time if we need to contact you to make a benefit election (e.g. a service credit deposit), or your former employing agency for additional information, or another agency such as the Social Security Administration, if a benefit from them impacts your claim.

    See the publicly available link we update monthly to review our rolling two-year window of average processing times.

    https://www.opm.gov/about-us/budget-performance/strategic-plans/retirement-processing-status.pdf
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  • The basic Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) annuity cannot exceed 80 percent of your high-3 average salary, excluding your unused sick leave. Generally, you reach the 80 percent limitation when you have 41 years and 11 months of service, not including accumulated sick leave.   Fewer years of service may result in a computation that produces the maximum benefit under special computation formulas such as for law enforcement personnel.

    Your service beyond the years which provides the maximum benefit will not be used to compute your annuity.  Instead, we will automatically refund the retirement contributions you made during those years.  Interest is paid on this refund payment at the rate of three percent per year, compounded annually.  You can use the refund to purchase additional annuity, as if  the contributions and interest are voluntary contributions.

    However, if you have federal civilian employment periods when you did not contribute to either the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) or the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), we automatically apply excess contributions toward any deposit due for these employment periods.

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  • If you have not already done so, you should choose your exact retirement date. Afterwards, your benefit can be estimated based on the exact date.

    The best place to obtain assistance is your agency's local personnel service center.   They can provide personalized assistance and they have your employment records.  They will provide you with information on when your benefit payments can begin based on your proposed retirement date.  You will also find out how this date affects factors used to determine the amount of your retirement benefit, such as your length of service, high-3 average salary, and the proration of cost-of-living adjustments.

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  • It may take up to eight weeks to process a withdrawal after all properly completed withdrawal forms and separation data have been received by the TSP Service Office. Further, the TSP Service Office cannot process a withdrawal election until they receive an Employee Data Record from your payroll office indicating that you have separated.

    An unpaid TSP loan may delay disbursement of the TSP account balance.

    Your employer will provide you with information about your withdrawal options and the option to keep your money in the TSP.  If you choose not to withdraw your funds, in the event of your death the TSP Service Office would pay the funds based on your written designation form on file.  If you have not completed a designation form, payment would be made to your survivors as follows:

    • Widow or widower.
    • If none of the above, child or children and descendants of deceased children by representation.
    • If none of the above, retiree's parents or to the surviving parent.
    • If none of the above, the executor or administrator of the retiree's estate.
    • If none of the above, to any other of the retiree's next of kin who is entitled under the laws of the state in which the retiree resided at death.
    Read more about the Thrift Savings Program.
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  • In most cases, as soon as we get all of your retirement records, we provide interim payments. These payments represent a portion of your final benefit and are usually made on the first business day of each month. We try to provide you with income until we finish processing your application.
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  • You may continue your health insurance coverage only if you meet the following conditions:

    • Your annuity must begin within 30 days or, if you are retiring under the Minimum Retirement Age (MRA) plus 10 provision of the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), health and life insurance coverages are suspended until your annuity begins, even if it is postponed.
    • You must be covered for health insurance when you retire.
    • You must have been continuously covered by the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, TRICARE, or the Civilian Health and Medical Program for Uniformed Services (CHAMPUS):
          • for five years immediately before retiring;or,
          • during all of your federal employment since your first opportunity to enroll;or,
          • continuously for full periods of service beginning with the enrollment that started before January 1, 1965, and ending with the date on which you become an annuitant, whichever is shortest.
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  • 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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  • If your agency undergoes a major reorganization, reduction in force, or transfer of function, and a significant percentage of the employees will be separated, or will be reduced in pay, the head of your agency can ask the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to permit early optional retirement for eligible employees.

    If your agency gets approval to permit early optional retirements, eligible employees will be notified of the opportunity to retire voluntarily.


    Information about Early Optional Retirement under CSRS is available here

    Information about Early Optional Retirement under FERS is available here.

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  • You can be paid for any unused annual leave you hold at retirement.
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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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