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Retirement FAQs

  • You can keep your basic life insurance in retirement if all of the following conditions are met:
    • You have coverage when you retire;
    • You have not converted coverage to an individual policy;
    • Your annuity begins within 30 days or, (However if you are retiring under the Minimum Retirement Age (MRA) plus 10 provision of the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) and you have postponed the commencing date of your annuity, health and life insurance coverage is suspended until your annuity begins) and,
    • You were insured for life insurance for the five years immediately preceding retirement or the full periods of service when coverage was available.
    You can keep your optional life insurance in retirement if all of the following conditions are met:
    • You are eligible to continue your basic coverage; and,
    • You were covered by the optional life insurance for the five years immediately preceding retirement or the full periods of service when coverage was available, if less than five years.
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  • You can help reduce delays in processing by submitting your application in advance and by making sure your Official Personnel Folder (OPF) is complete. If you submit your paperwork early, your personnel and payroll offices will be able to complete their action before your retirement date.
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  • When we receive your retirement application, we will notify you and will provide a civil service claim identification number (a seven-digit number preceded by "CSA"). You must use that identification number whenever you contact OPM about your annuity. To check the status of your form or application, you may contact the Retirement Office at (888) 767-6738 or retire@opm.gov.  The phone lines are open from 7:30 am to 7:45 pm (Eastern Standard Time). It is a busy phone number so we encourage you to call early in the morning or after 5:00 pm when the phone lines are less busy.
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  • When we receive your retirement application, we will notify you and will provide a civil service claim identification number (a seven-digit number preceded by "CSA"). You must use that identification number whenever you contact OPM about your annuity.
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  • For more information regarding Federal income taxes, visit the IRS website at www.irs.gov or call the IRS on 1-800-829-1040.
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  • The five year period before retirement is important because you must have insurance coverage for five years immediately before retirement to keep it after retirement. You may also need some preliminary information to make decisions about when you can afford to retire and whether to make any necessary payments to receive credit for military or non-contributory service or repay any retirement contribution refunds.
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  • If you are leaving your Federal job and want a refund of your retirement contributions, you can get an application from your personnel office, complete it, and return it to them. If you are no longer in the Federal service, you can acquire the appropriate application from our website. The applications are shown below: If you are still working, submit your application to your servicing personnel office. If you have left Federal service, submit your application to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).
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    • The beginning and ending dates for each period of employment which will be used for your benefit computation;
    • The effective dates for each promotion or within-grade increase during the period that will be used to compute your high-3 average salary;
    • The dates of pay changes or earnings and the pay rate, during employment periods when retirement deductions were not withheld from your salary;
    • The tour-of-duty during any part-time employment (if you worked more hours than the official tour-of-duty, document the hours actually worked.);
    • A record of time actually worked during intermittent or "when-actually-employed" service; and,
    • Documentation of the dates of military service.
    If any service is not verified or any of the required documentation is missing, you should obtain assistance from your personnel officer.
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  •  If your 1099R Statement Box 2.a for the Taxable Amount is marked as 'Unknown'; this means that OPM did not calculate the tax-free portion of your annuity.   Some of the most common reasons for not calculating the tax-free portion of your annuity: 
    • Your case is a Disability Retirement
    • You retired prior to November 19, 1996
    • You have Voluntary Contributions
    • Apportionment was paid to your former spouse(s)
    • Your case has not been finalized and you are in Interim pay status
    • You have Survivor benefits payable and/or
    • Your case is an Office of Workers Compensation case
    OPM CAN NOT provide tax advice.  Please contact the Internal Revenue Service toll free at 1-800-829-1040 to speak with an agent who will provide free tax advice. 
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  • If you are not receiving social security benefits, you can have Medicare premiums withheld from your annuity payments. We must receive a request for the withholding from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. We cannot withhold premiums based on your direct request or even one from the Social Security Administration. However, the social security district office may be able to give you additional information.
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  • We only withhold Federal income tax.  You may find that the Federal income taxes withheld from your first interim payment will be higher than the Federal tax withholdings from your subsequent interim payments and regular annuity.  We will make any necessary tax withholding adjustment when we finish processing your application.  Your health and life insurance coverage will continue while you are receiving interim pay.  We will begin withholding health and life insurance premiums retroactive to the commencing date of your annuity, when we finish processing your application.
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  • After your personnel agency takes action, your agency payroll office:
    • Authorizes your final pay check and lump sum payment for unused annual leave;
    • Prepares your "Individual Retirement Record," Standard Form 2806 (CSRS) or 3100 (FERS) which reflects service, salary history, and annual retirement contributions; and
    • Forwards all retirement documents to OPM.
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  • The Office of Federal Employees' Group Life Insurance (OFEGLI) will pay life insurance benefits in a particular order, set by law:
    • If the annuitant or employee assigned ownership of life insurance, OFEGLI will pay benefits in the following order of precedence:
      • First to the beneficiary designated by the assignee(s), if any;
      • Second, if there is no such beneficiary, to the assignee(s).
    • If the annuitant or employee did not assign ownership and there is a valid court order on file, OFEGLI will pay benefits in accordance with that court order.
    • If the annuitant or employee did not assign ownership and there is no valid court order on file, OFEGLI will pay benefits in the following order of precedence:
      • to the beneficiary designated;
      • if there is no such beneficiary, to the widow or widower;
      • if none of the above, to the child(ren), with the share of any deceased child distributed among the descendants of that child (a court will usually have to appoint a guardian to receive payment for a minor child);
      • if none of the above, to the parents in equal shares or the entire amount to the surviving parent;
      • if none of the above, to the executor or administrator of the estate; or
      • if none of the above, to the next of kin as determined under the laws of the State where the annuitant or employee lived.
    If you are an annuitant, you can download [119 KB] the Standard Form (SF) 2823, Designation of Beneficiary, and instructions, or contact us and ask that they be sent to you. You need to keep your designated beneficiaries' addresses current. Failure to do so may mean that your beneficiary cannot be located and therefore benefits will not be paid to that person. The preferred way is to file a new Designation of Beneficiary when a beneficiary's address changes. A new address cannot be added directly to the Designation of Beneficiary form itself, since any cross outs, erasures, or alterations in your form may make it invalid.
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  • If at age 62 you are eligible for Social Security, we will recompute your retirement benefit to "offset" any part of your Social Security benefit that is based on your years of Federal service under the offset plan.
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  • You can roll over lump sum payments representing your retirement contributions, including voluntary contributions, and applicable interest. An eligible payment can be paid either to you or directly to an individual retirement account or other employee sponsored plan. Your choice will affect the amount of taxes you owe. We are required to withhold Federal income tax from taxable payments over $200 at the rate of 20 percent. However, you may choose to take all or part of these payments in a direct roll over to an individual retirement account or an employer-sponsored retirement plan that accepts roll overs. The taxable portion can be rolled over into the Thrift Saving Plan. If you make this election, we will not withhold the Federal income tax from the taxable payments. You can open an individual retirement account to receive a direct roll over. You must contact the individual retirement account sponsor to find out how to have your payment made to your account. If you are unsure of how to invest your money, you may wish to temporarily establish an account to receive the payment. However, you may wish to consider whether or not you may move any or all of the monies to another account at a later date without penalties or limitations. If you choose to have the payment made to you and it is over $200, it is subject to the 20 percent Federal income tax withholding. The payment is taxed in the year in which it is received unless within 60 days after receiving it, you roll it over to an individual retirement account or retirement plan that accepts roll overs. You can roll over up to 100 percent of the eligible distribution, including the 20 percent withholding. To do so, you must replace the 20 percent withholding within the 60 day period. You will be taxed on any amount that you do not roll over. For example, if you roll over only the 80 percent of the distribution, you will be taxed on the remaining 20 percent. You can find more information about the taxation of payments from qualified retirement plans from the following Internal Revenue Service publications: We will not withhold any amount for Federal income tax if your total taxable lump sum is less than $200. We will request a rollover election when you are eligible for a payment of $200 or more.
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Total Count: 457, Number of Pages: 31, Page: 4
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