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Frequently Asked Questions Retirement

FERCCA

  • We believe that the number of employees in the wrong retirement plan is very small. Agencies have discovered and corrected many retirement coverage errors. However, we are certain some employees still are in the wrong retirement plan.

    If you have not worked for the Federal Government continuously since 1983, or you have had changes in appointment types and retirement plans, then you may want to ask your agency to review your retirement coverage to ensure that it is correct.

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  • Generally, when a retired employee returns to work for the Federal Government under conditions that do not terminate the retirement benefit, the employee should be covered under the same retirement plan he or she had at retirement. Since you retired under CSRS, you should have retained your CSRS coverage upon reemployment. (However, if you received an appointment as a Senior Official, you would be subject to automatic Social Security coverage and your retirement coverage would be CSRS Offset.)

     

    A CSRS or CSRS Offset retiree who is reemployed with the Federal Government may elect to join FERS within 6 months of the reemployment if the time between retirement and reemployment is more than 4 days and if the reemployment is under an appointment that is not excluded from FERS.

     

    There is a special rule relating to retirement deductions for CSRS and CSRS Offset retirees who return to work under conditions that do not terminate the annuity. Although such an individual would be covered under CSRS or CSRS Offset, retirement deductions would not be withheld from the individual's salary unless the individual elected to have the deductions withheld.
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  • Social Security-Only means coverage under Social Security without also being covered under either CSRS or FERS. You would have Social Security-Only coverage if you were hired under an appointment that is excluded from CSRS or FERS.

    Usually employees serving under temporary appointments (limited to 1 year or less), intermittent employees, and other appointments that would not be expected to last at least 5 years (such as term and excepted indefinite appointments) are excluded from CSRS.

    Employees serving under temporary (limited to 1 year or less) appointments and intermittent employees are generally excluded from FERS.

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  • It depends on what your retirement coverage error was and how long you were in the wrong retirement plan. FERCCA may provide you one or all of the following:

    • You may have an opportunity to choose another retirement plan;
    • You may be reimbursed for certain out-of-pocket expenses you paid as a result of a coverage error;
    • You may benefit from certain changes in the rules about how some of your Government service counts toward retirement; and
    • You may be able to make-up contributions to the Thrift Savings Plan and get lost earnings on those contributions as well.
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  • Many employees do not actually work near their Human Resources office. If you don't know who to contact, find the benefits counselor for your agency at www.apps.opm.gov/abo. Your agency's benefits counselor can help you find the office in your agency that has your employment records and can review your retirement coverage. Please note that neither OPM or the FERCCA Hotline has your employment history and won't be able to tell you if you are in the right retirement plan.

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  • The 5-year test is used to determine the proper retirement coverage of individuals who are being hired, transferred, or converted to a permanent position in the Federal service. It applies to all retirement coverage determinations made after January 1, 1987. If the 5-year test is met, an individual is not automatically covered by FERS. This means the individual would retain CSRS or CSRS Offset retirement coverage depending on the length of separation.

     

    The 5-year test is met if an individual had 5 years of civilian service (don't count any military service) as of December 31, 1986. All Federal service is creditable for this purpose, regardless of the nature of the appointment (i.e., career, non-career, and whether or not retirement contributions were deducted from pay or a refund of retirement contributions was received). The 5-year test also is met if an employee separated after January 1, 1987, had 5 years of service, and had at least one appointment subject to retirement coverage.
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  • It does not matter if you no longer work for the Federal Government because FERCCA also applies to separated employees. As long as your retirement coverage error was in effect for more than 3 years of service after December 31, 1986, then you may benefit from FERCCA. Contact your former Federal agency's Human Resources Office to request a review of your eligibility under FERCCA.
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  • No. Term appointments are excluded from CSRS or CSRS Offset retirement coverage. Individuals who receive a term appointment and who are not automatically covered by FERS are covered by FICA (Social Security) with the option to elect FERS coverage. Since you previously had over 15 years of CSRS service, you are not automatically covered under FERS. You coverage should be FICA. If you don't elect FERS coverage, and then later convert to an appointment not excluded from CSRS (a career appointment, for example), you would then be covered under CSRS or CSRS Offset depending on when you last worked as a CSRS employee.

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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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  • It is possible that because of a retirement coverage error, you paid either too much or too little for your military service.

    Under FERCCA, if you paid too much, you can receive a refund, plus interest, of any money that you paid over the amount needed to pay for your military service.

    Also, if you now owe more for your military service, you can get credit for your military service by taking an actuarial reduction instead of having to pay additional money. If you die before retiring, we will apply the actuarial reduction to your survivor's benefit.

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