# Frequently Asked Questions Retirement

• 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:

• An annuity computed under the formula based on the employee's service, salary, and sick leave. Refer to Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) Computation for information about the computation of an employee's annuity.
• A guaranteed minimum annuity which is the lesser of:
• Forty percent of the employee's high-3 average salary; or
• The regular annuity obtained after increasing the employee's length of service by the period of time between the date of the employee's death and the date he or she would have reached age 60.

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)-

Monthly Annuity-

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)-

Monthly Annuity-

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:

• Age 50 or older and had at least 20 years of law enforcement, firefighter and/or nuclear materials courier service, or 20 years of air traffic controller service; or
• Was any age with at least 25 years of law enforcement, firefighter or nuclear materials courier service, or 25 years of air traffic controller service.

Basic Employee Death Benefit-

Amount of the Basic Employee Death Benefit:

• 50% of the employee’s final salary (average salary, if higher), plus
• \$15,000 increased by Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) cost-of-living adjustments beginning 12/1/87.  For deaths on or after 12/1/07, this amount is \$28,093.53.  It will be updated by future CSRS cost-of-living adjustments.
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• When you get within one year of retirement eligibility, you should:

• Confirm when you will be eligible to get a retirement benefit;
• Decide when you want to retire;
• Get information about other benefits to which you may also be eligible, such as Thrift Savings Plan payment options and any other entitlements based on employment, for example: Foreign Service, Social Security, pensions from private industry, and Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA). You should have a fairly comprehensive picture of all sources of your retirement income and when each is payable.
• Tell your supervisor about your proposed retirement date. You should give sufficient notice to allow for planning for someone to take your place.
• Attend a pre-retirement counseling seminar.
• Make an appointment with your personnel officer to review your Official Personnel Folder (OPF) or its equivalent to make sure all your records are complete and accurate, all service is verified, and your insurance coverage is documented.
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• You can ask that your retirement contributions be returned to you in a lump sum payment. Or, you can wait until you are retirement age to apply for monthly retirement benefit payments. If you get a refund of your retirement contributions now, you will no longer be eligible to receive monthly payments when you reach retirement age. Refer to information about retirement eligibility.
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• You should carefully read the information that is part of your retirement application, and complete and submit the forms.  You do not need to submit a separate letter of resignation.  A completed and signed retirement application is equivalent to a letter of resignation.

If you are eligible for a retirement benefit, you should not resign, intending to submit a retirement application later. This is because if you die after separating but before filing the application no life insurance, no survivor benefit, and no survivor health insurance coverage would be available to your survivor(s). You should, however, complete all the other required "exit procedures."

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• You may receive a CSRS survivor annuity and social security payments. You may receive a FERS survivor annuity and social security payments.  However, if you are the survivor of a FERS retiree, you cannot receive the FERS survivor supplement if you are eligible for social security mother, father or disability benefits based on the deceased annuitant’s account.  Please contact the local office of the Social Security Administration for information about social security benefits.

If you receive social security benefits based on your own employment, there may be a reduction in the social security benefit you receive based on your deceased spouse's service. Contact the Social Security Administration for more information about the Government Pension Offset at http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/10007.html.

See the information below about benefits which may be payable to the surviving spouse of a deceased annuitant who was covered by the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) Offset program. Under these circumstances, a survivor may be eligible for both a CSRS annuity and social security benefits.

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• Use Services Online to:

• start, change, or stop Federal and State income tax withholdings;
• request a duplicate tax-filing statement (1099R);
• change your Personal Identification Number (PIN) for accessing our automated systems;
• establish, change, or stop an allotment to an organization;
• start direct deposit of your payment or change the account or financial institution to which your payment is sent;
• establish, change, or stop a checking or savings allotment; and
• view a statement describing your annuity payment.

You can also call our toll-free number 1 (888) 767-6738 , for these and many of your voluntary withholdings. When using our self-service systems, you need your claim number, Personal Identification Number (PIN), and social security number. If you do not have a PIN, call us.

If you do not have a touchtone telephone, you can speak to a Customer Service Specialist.

Generally, in the middle of month, we authorize payments that are due for the first business day of the following month. Therefore, if you want your change to be reflected in your next payment, you should submit your request as early in the month as possible. See our payment schedule for the last date you can change your next monthly payment.

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• Please select the retirement system and date of adjustment from this list.
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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.

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• 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 are changing to self-only coverage from family coverage;
• You are changing plans because you have moved out of the service area of your Health Maintenance Organization (HMO);
• You turned 65 and are changing to a lower cost plan option because you are eligible for Medicare;
• You are changing your enrollment during the annual Health Benefits Open Season, which usually runs from mid-November to early December; or
• You are changing to family coverage because you marry, or have or adopt a child. (This option is not available to survivors.)

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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• Complete information pertaining to military service can be found in the CSRS/FERS handbook at www.opm.gov/retire/pubs/handbook/C022.pdf.  If you are a current employee, contact your personnel office for information.

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