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Retirement FAQs

Pre-Retirement

  • 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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  • Which retirement plan you belong in depends upon the type of appointment you have and your work history. The rules can be complicated. That's why some employees are in the wrong plan. Below are some of the common errors, broken down by retirement plan. Find your retirement plan, and see if you fit any of the situations listed. If you do, you may be in the wrong plan. But, remember there are exceptions to the general rules. You may be in the right retirement plan because you fall under one of the exceptions (like the one shown under CSRS Offset). Contact your Human Resources office. They can help you. If your retirement plan is: Then you may be in the wrong plan if you: CSRS Worked for the Government before 1984, but not on a permanent basis; or Left Federal employment for more than a year at any time after 1983; or Have a temporary appointment limited to a year or less, a term appointment, or an emergency indefinite appointment; orHave no Federal civilian employment before 1984; or Do not have a career or career conditional appointment and you work on an intermittent basis. (See the work schedule block on your SF-50.) CSRS Offset Have a temporary appointment limited to a year or less, a term appointment, or an emergency indefinite appointment; orHave no Federal civilian employment before 1984; or Do not have a career or career conditional appointment and you work on an intermittent basis. (See the work schedule block on your SF-50.); or Did not work for the Government for a total of 5 years before 1987 (don't count your military service). Exception: If you worked under CSRS, left the Government, and your agency placed you in CSRS Offset on your return, your CSRS Offset coverage is probably correct if you had 5 years Government service when you left.) FERS Have a temporary appointment limited to a year or less; Do not have a career or career conditional appointment and you work on an intermittent basis; or Have worked for the Government for at least 5 years before 1987 (not including military service) unless you elected to transfer to FERS during a FERS Open Seasons or after a break in service.
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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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  • 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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  • Generally, CSRS Offset retirement coverage occurs when an employee who had previously been covered under CSRS has a break in service of over 365 days. When the individual returns to a permanent position they will be covered under CSRS Offset and will contribute to both CSRS and to FICA (Social Security). In other words, CSRS Offset coverage applies to individuals who are simultaneously covered by CSRS and by Social Security.
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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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  • "Transitional retirement coverage" or CSRS Interim is a version of CSRS established pending creation of a new retirement system for employees first hired after December 31, 1983, and certain rehires. Employees covered by CSRS Interim provisions paid OASDI taxes and a reduced CSRS contribution. When FERS became effective on January 1, 1987, employees with CSRS Interim coverage acquired either FERS or CSRS Offset coverage.
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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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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, if you have been in the wrong retirement plan for at least 3 years of service AFTER December 31, 1986. It does not matter that your agency may have already corrected the error or that you have retired or no longer work for the Government. As long as the error was in effect for at least 3 years of your Federal service after December 31, 1986, then you may benefit from FERCCA. FERCCA may also affect you if you were put in FERS by mistake and can make, or made, what we call a "deemed FERS election". You don't have to be in FERS for at least 3 years to benefit from FERCCA. See the question, My agency put me in FERS by mistake. When it discovered the error, my agency let me choose whether I wanted to remain in FERS. Do I get another choice under FERCCA? for an explanation.
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  • You'll have a choice, but the fact that you are retired limits your options considerably. That's because MRA + 10 retirements are unique to FERS. You may not be eligible to retire under CSRS, where you need 30 years of service to retire at 55. As a retiree, your choice would be to stay in FERS with an MRA + 10 retirement, or choose CSRS Offset and wait until age 62 to receive a deferred retirement.
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  • Then you are probably in the right retirement plan. Remember that most employees are in the right retirement plan. If you're still not sure, ask your Human Resources office to review your employment records to make sure you are in the right retirement plan.
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  • If you currently work for the Federal Government, you should contact your Human Resources office for help. Your agency has all of your employment records and can verify whether your retirement coverage is correct. Please don't contact OPM as we normally don't receive your employment records until you separate from the Government. If you are a separated employee, retiree, or survivor of an employee who was in the wrong retirement plan, contact OPM on 1-888-767-6738.
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Total Count: 216, Number of Pages: 15, Page: 7
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