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Frequently Asked Questions Retirement

General

  • 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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  • 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, 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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  • Retirees have the same choices under FERCCA that active employees have.

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  • Social Security benefits are based on earnings averaged over most of a worker's lifetime. Your actual earnings are first adjusted or "indexed" to account for changes in average wages since the year the earnings were received. Then the Social Security Administration calculates your average monthly indexed earnings during the 35 years in which you earned the most. The Social Security Administration applies a formula to these earnings and arrives at your basic benefit, or "primary insurance amount" (PIA). This is the amount you would receive at your full retirement age.

    As you can see from the above, the benefit computation is complex and there are no simple tables that we can give you that will tell you how much you will receive. However, there are several ways you can find out how your Social Security retirement benefit is figured:

    1. Request a Social Security Statement. You can make your request over the Internet and the Social Security Administration will mail you a detailed report of your lifetime earnings and an estimate of Social Security retirement, disability and dependent benefits: www.ssa.gov/statement.
    2. Compute your own Social Security benefit estimate using a program that you can download from your PC: www.ssa.gov/OACT/ANYPIA/anypia.html.
    3. How Your Retirement Benefit Is Figured is a publication that walks you through the formula for computing your retirement benefit: www.ssa.gov/pubs/10070.html.
    4. See examples of how Social Security benefits are computed at www.socialsecurity.gov/OACT/ProgData/retirebenefit1.html.
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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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  • No, you can't elect to change your FERS retirement coverage if you took a refund of all FERS retirement deductions.

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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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  • 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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  • If your retirement coverage error was corrected in the past, you have until September 19, 2002, to make your election. Your agency and OPM have the authority to waive this deadline.

    If you are currently in the wrong retirement plan, you must receive written notice of the error and of your options under FERCCA. If you qualify to choose another retirement plan, you have 6 months from the date you are notified of the error to make your election.

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