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Retirement Services Retirement FAQs

Go to our new customer support center to get answers to top questions, learn about popular topics, and find resources for more support.

  • You will need to send all certified court orders and referenced documents to the Court Ordered Benefits Branch, PO Box 17, Washington, DC 20044. You should apply now to prevent any delays at the time of retirement.
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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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Use our online calculator to compute the tax free portion of your annuity. http://apps.opm.gov/tax_calc/index.cfm Read about how the tax free portion of your annuity is determined. Your retirement contributions are shown on the 1099R form we send you each January for tax filing purposes.  You can find information about computing the taxable portion of your annuity by going to IRS Publication 721 (Tax Guide to U.S. Civil Service Retirement Benefits) on the Internal Revenue Service website.  Search for Publication 721 and refer to “Part II Rules for Retirees”.  You will find detailed information for disability and non-disability retirees, along with worksheets for computing the taxable portion. If your non-disability annuity started on/after July 2, 1986, a portion of each annuity payment is taxable and a portion is considered a tax-free recovery of your contributions to the retirement fund. If you retired under the disability provision, the disability annuity you receive from CSRS or FERS is taxable as wages until you reach minimum retirement age.  Your retirement contributions are shown on the 1099R form we send you each January for tax filing purposes. 
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  • You can be paid for any unused annual leave you hold at retirement.
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  • The survivor benefit you elected at retirement is no longer payable. A monthly survivor benefit would be payable to your former spouse after death if one is provided by court order or your new election. The following conditions must exist for your former spouse to receive a benefit:
    • You were married to your former spouse for at least nine months;
    • You performed at least 18 months of creditable civilian service;
    • Your former spouse to whom you were married less than 30 years has not remarried before age 55.
    Your annuity may be reduced if your former spouse was awarded a survivor annuity by a qualifying court order. If you retired on or after May 7, 1985, we will honor the terms of a court order that requires you to provide a survivor annuity for an eligible former spouse for a marriage dissolved on or after May 7, 1985. If you are divorced after retirement from a spouse to whom you were married at retirement, we will honor the court order to the extent that your annuity was reduced at retirement. If you did not elect a survivor annuity for that person at retirement, your annuity will not be reduced. If you retired before May 7, 1985, we will honor the terms of a qualifying court order that requires you to provide a survivor annuity for an eligible former spouse in connection with a marriage that was dissolved on or after May 7, 1985, but only if you were married to that person at retirement and elected to provide a survivor annuity at that time or your were married to that person at retirement and elected to provide a survivor annuity before May 7, 1985.
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  • 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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  • 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." Read more about applying for retirement.
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Total Count: 240, Number of Pages: 24, Page: 1
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