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You should begin planning several years before the date you have set for retirement so that you will know what is required to continue certain benefits into retirement. There are many factors related to retirement planning, and it is literally never too early to begin. The federal annuity is only one element to consider in today's complex financial scene. You may need to start a Thrift Savings Plan or IRA schedule many years before considering actual retirement. Other considerations, such as Social Security may affect your benefits.
However, the best place to begin is with your local personnel service center. They can provide personalized assistance and they have your employment records.
Your health and life insurance coverages are of immediate concern now because you must carry coverage continuously for at least five years before your retirement or you may be ineligible to continue them.
As of February 2012, our average processing time is 5 months from the date we receive your final paperwork from your human resources and payroll offices. Of the current pending claims workload, 47 percent are less than 2 months old and 25 percent are older than 6 months.
If we need additional information from you or your former employing agency, your claim will take longer to process. Additional time will also be needed if we need to contact you to make a benefit election, such as a decision to make a service credit deposit, or if we need to contact an external agency, such as SSA for an offset calculation.
Survivors of Annuitants Under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS)-
The maximum annuity for a spouse who survives an annuitant is 55 percent of the annuitant's benefit before it is reduced by the cost of the election to provide the survivor benefit. Generally, this equals 60 percent of the annuitant's current gross annuity. The survivor annuity will be less if the annuitant elected at retirement to provide less than the maximum benefit.
For example, if an annuitant whose unreduced annual benefit is $31,003.24 elected to provide the maximum benefit, the survivor annuity would equal $31,003.24 x 55 percent = $17,051.78.
Survivors of Employees Under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS)-
The annuity payable to the surviving spouse of an employee whose death occurs while employed with the Federal Government is 55 percent of the annuity computed as if the employee had retired on disability as of the date of his or her death.
An employee's surviving spouse receives 55 percent of the higher of:
If, at the date of the employee's death, he or she was a law enforcement officer or firefighter who had at least 20 years of service as a law enforcement officer, firefighter or nuclear materials courier, the surviving spouse would receive 55 percent of the annuity computed under the special provisions for law enforcement officers, firefighters and nuclear materials couriers.
If the employee performed service as a law enforcement officer or firefighter but was not employed in such a capacity at the time of his or her death; or, if he or she was a law enforcement officer or firefighter but was not age 50 with at least 20 years of law enforcement service or firefighter service, survivors can receive an annuity computation that is enhanced for the law enforcement or firefighter service on a pro-rated basis.
If, at the date of the employee's death, he or she was age 50 and had performed at least 20 years of air traffic controller service; or, regardless of age, had at least 25 years of air traffic controller service, the surviving spouse receives 55 percent of an annuity computed under the special formula for air traffic controllers.
Survivors of Annuitants Under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS)-
The maximum monthly annuity for a spouse who survives a FERS annuitant is 50 percent of the annuitant's benefit before it is reduced by the cost of the election to provide the survivor benefit. The survivor annuity will be 25% of the annuitant’s benefit, if the annuitant elected at retirement to provide a partial survivor benefit.
For example, if an annuitant whose unreduced annual benefit is $31,003.24 elected to provide the maximum benefit, the survivor annuity would equal $31,003.24 x 50 percent = $15,501.62.
Survivors of Employees Under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS)-
The monthly annuity payable to the surviving spouse of an employee whose death occurs while employed with the Federal Government is 50 percent of the annuity computed as if the employee had retired as of the date of his/her death.
The monthly annuity payable to the surviving spouse of the employee is 50 percent of the annuity computed under the special formula for law enforcement officers, firefighters, and air traffic controllers if, at the date of death, the employee was:
Basic Employee Death Benefit-
Amount of the Basic Employee Death Benefit:
Check with your local personnel service center to verify that you have enough
service and meet the age requirements for retirement
eligibility. They can provide personalized assistance because they have your
Your local personnel service center will also talk with you about the date
your annuity payments can start based on the date you pick.
If you receive a Federal pension and are also eligible for Social Security benefits based on your own employment record, a different formula may be used to compute your Social Security benefit. This formula will result in a lower benefit. The Windfall Elimination Provision affects workers who reach age 62 or become disabled after 1985 and are first eligible after 1985 for a Federal pension.
The Windfall Elimination Provision does not apply if:
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. If the court assigned payment under a court order, we will pay the lump sum in accordance with that court order. Otherwise, we will pay benefits under the following order of precedence:
You can voluntarily withhold Federal and State income taxes, checking and savings allotments, or allotments to other participating organizations.
Federal Income Tax: Generally, unless you specify a monthly withholding rate or amount, we withhold Federal income tax as if you are married and claiming three allowances. Use Services Online to start, change, or stop the Federal tax withheld from your annuity payment or specify the dollar amount withheld.
You can also call us or write us to change your withholding amount. If you write, your letter should include your claim number and the monthly amount in dollars you want withheld. If you write, we will send you a Form W-4P-A, "Election of Federal Income Tax Withholding," and instructions for making the change. The change in your withholdings will be made after we receive your Form W-4P-A.
You may change the amount withheld whenever you think it is necessary.
Please note that you may be penalized by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) if you do not have at least 90 percent of your yearly tax liability either withheld from your salary or annuity or made via quarterly payments to the IRS.
If you need more information or assistance in determining whether or not you are having the right amount of Federal income tax withheld, see the Internal Revenue Service website at http://www.irs.gov.
State Income Tax: You must specify the dollar amount of State tax you want withheld from your monthly payments. The withholding must be in whole dollars. The minimum amount we can withhold for State income tax is $5. Use Services Online to start, change, or stop the State tax withheld from your annuity payment.
You can also call us or write us to change your withholding amount. If you write, your letter should include your claim number and the monthly amount in dollars you want withheld.
If you do not know the monthly amount you want withheld, contact your State tax office for information or assistance.
Check our list of State tax offices for information about participating States.
If your State does not participate, please contact the State tax office for information or assistance.
As of April 1, 2009, The Office of Personnel Management is no longer withholding for the purchase of savings bonds. Please contact your bank or other financial institution or the Department of the Treasury to purchase these bonds. For further information on Savings Bonds visit the Treasury Direct website or call 1 (800) 4US-BOND.
Allotments to Organizations: You can start, change, or stop an allotment to participating organizations. Participating organizations include:
If the organization for which you wish to make an allotment is not listed above, you should contact them and ask them to provide us with the banking information needed to forward payments. The organization can contact us by email at email@example.com.
Use Services Online or call our toll-free number to make one-time or recurring membership payments to organizations.
Checking and Savings Allotments: Checking and savings allotments are voluntary deductions for allotments sent by direct deposit to a checking or savings account in your name. You may have up to two allotments. The accounts must be maintained at a domestic financial institution. This does not include charities, savings bonds, garnishments or other court orders, union or other organizational dues. You must maintain at least $100 net annuity payment. The allotment must be for a minimum of $50.
Use Services Online to start, change, or stop an allotment or call our toll-free number to establish a checking or savings allotment.
There are many reasons for changing your health benefits enrollment. If you are changing your coverage because of one of the reasons listed below, we can make the change based on your telephone call. When calling you must have your claim number and social security number, as well as the enrollment number and name for your new plan. Changes we can make by phone include:
You should contact us within the period beginning 31 days before up to 60 days after the date of the event.
You may change the plan in which you are enrolled or from high to low option coverage during the annual Open Season for electing coverage.
If you need assistance with your health benefits enrollment, call 1 (888) 767-6738 , to change your enrollment or if you need to speak with a Customer Service Specialist. Or, see our web pages at http://www.opm.gov/insure/health/index.asp to obtain information about health insurance benefits online.
If you are eligible for TRICARE or TRICARE-For-Life benefits, you may suspend your FEHB coverage and premium payments. You are able to reenroll in the FEHB Program during the Open Season, or immediately if you are involuntarily disenrolled from the TRICARE program. Select this link to find answers to frequently asked questions on this topic.
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