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Retirement FAQs

  • The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act was passed by the United States Congress on December 16, 2010 and signed into law on December 17, 2010. As a result, the IRS published the tax withholding tables later than usual for 2011. OPM applied the tax tables as quickly as possible but there was not enough time to apply these tables to the January 3, 2011 annuity payments.
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    • The benefit is not reduced if it begins after your 60th birthday and you have at least 20 years of service or you reach the Minimum Retirement Age and have 30 years of service. Delay of the benefit can be used to avoid all or part of the reduction for retirement before age 62 that would otherwise have been applied.
    • Your life insurance enrollment will stop until the annuity begins. Once the annuity begins, the life insurance coverage you had when you stopped working will resume if you are eligible.
    • Your health benefits can be temporarily continued under the Temporary Continuation of Coverage for 18 months. You must pay the full cost of coverage, including both the employee and government shares, plus a two percent administrative charge. Your employer will collect the premiums and maintain this coverage.
    • When your payments begin, if you are otherwise eligible to continue coverage, you can again enroll in the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program and we will pay the government share of the premiums.
    • If you do not file an application before your death, the rights of your surviving family members would be protected because you would be considered a retiree.
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  • The withholding changes affect the February 1, 2011 payment and subsequent annuity payments.
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  • You should contact the Social Security Administration at least three months before your 65th birthday to apply for benefits. The Social Security Administration will have records pertaining to your eligibility for Medicare coverage.  If they do not, and you or your employer need to get a statement of your earnings for this purpose, you can write to: General Services Administration National Personnel Records Center Civilian Personnel Records 111 Winnebago Street St. Louis, Missouri 63118 You should provide the following information in your request:
    • your name, as shown on your payroll records;
    • date of birth;
    • Social Security Number;
    • mailing address;
    • years for which earnings are needed;
    • name and location of employer for each year;
    • reason for request;
    • written signature; and,
    • a statement that all other sources of information have been exhausted.
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  • If you are a widow or widower of an individual who died as an employee or retiree, your survivor annuity begins on the day after the employee's or retiree's death. If you are a widow or widower of a former FERS employee who was separated from Federal service when he/she died, but had not yet retired, your annuity begins on the date the deceased former employee would have been eligible for an unreduced annuity.  You have the option to begin receiving the benefit at a lower rate on the day after the former employee’s death.  If you are eligible for benefits and we are unable to pay you because a former spouse is entitled, your annuity would begin the day after the former spouse loses entitlement to benefits. If you are eligible for a survivor annuity because of your insurable interest in the life of the annuitant, your survivor annuity begins on the day after the annuitant's death. If you are a former spouse who was awarded a survivor annuity based on a court order, your survivor annuity begins to accrue on whichever day is later: the day after the employee's or retiree's death or the first day of the second month after we receive a certified copy of the court order along with any additional necessary supporting documentation. If you are a former spouse who is eligible for benefits based on the retiree's election of a reduced annuity to provide the benefit, your annuity begins to accrue the day after the retiree's death. If you are eligible for benefits and we are unable to pay you because another former spouse is entitled, your annuity would begin the day after the former spouse loses entitlement to benefits. If you are a child of a deceased employee or annuitant, your survivor annuity begins to accrue on the day after the employee's or retiree's death.
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  • You should resolve any financial indebtedness to your agency. Examples of causes for indebtedness include:
    • outstanding travel advances,
    • overpayments of salary,
    • indebtedness for failure to return government property or for damage to government property, or
    • advanced leave.
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  • Yes, but you will receive only a portion of the first increase payable. We will prorate the first increase based on how long you were retired before it is given. At that time, we will send you a notice explaining the increase. Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) cost of living increases are not provided until age 62, except for disability and survivor benefits. Read about this year's cost-of-living adjustment for those who receive benefits under the Civil Service Retirement System and the Federal Employees Retirement System.
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  • In many cases, after receiving the report of a retiree's death, we can start monthly payments to those who are eligible based on the records we have on file. In every case, we will tell you what benefits are payable and provide the necessary forms and help to apply for benefits. If you are the survivor of an employee who has passed away while working for the Federal Government, please contact the personnel office of the Federal agency where the employee worked. You should complete the following form- If the employee was covered under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) at the time of death: Application for Death Benefits/CSRS, Standard Form (SF) 2800 [806 KB] If the employee was covered under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) at the time of death: Application for Death Benefits/FERS, Standard Form (SF) 3104 [741 KB] If you are the survivor of an employee who has passed away after separating from a position with the Federal Government under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), but before receiving any retirement benefits, you should file the following form- Application for Death Benefits/FERS, Standard Form (SF) 3104 [741 KB] Attach any other forms and/or evidence as the application or circumstances require. Attach a copy of the employee’s death certificate and a copy of the certificate of the marriage to the widow or widower. Give the application to the personnel office. A widow or widower who is claiming benefits for himself or herself and on behalf of children should file one application. If a lump sum payment is due following the death of someone who passed away after leaving Government service but before retirement, please complete the Application for Death Benefits, Standard Form (SF) 2800 [806 KB] and attach any other forms and/or evidence as the application or circumstances require. Send it to this address.
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  • If you were under 62 when your disability benefit began, and were not eligible for a voluntary immediate benefit, your benefit will be recomputed after you have been retired for 12 months. The recomputed annuity will be 40 percent of your high-3 average salary minus 60 percent of your monthly Social Security benefit, or your earned benefit, whichever is higher. At age 62, your benefit is recomputed as though you had continued working until age 62. (Your average salary is increased by all FERS Cost-of-Living Adjustments paid while you were disabled.)
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  • Generally, since your coverage under these programs effectively ended when you left Federal service, you cannot continue the coverage into retirement when you receive a deferred annuity.
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  • We keep a separate mailing address to periodically send you information about your retirement and health and life insurance benefits. You can see the current record of your mailing address on Services Online. Please notify us if this address changes. (If you do not receive your payments through direct deposit, we ordinarily use the same address for mailings and payments.)
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  • If your employer sends us your retirement records electronically, via the Data Exchange Gateway (DEG), your account information for direct deposit will be sent to us automatically.  No further action from you is required. Otherwise, include your request to receive your payments by direct deposit with your retirement package.  You can do this by submitting a letter or a Standard Form (SF) 1199A with your application.  You must get the SF 1199A, Direct Deposit Sign-Up Form, from your financial institution. Direct deposit is available to retirees residing in Canada but, generally, it is not available to those whose permanent address for receiving payments is outside the United States. However, retirees living outside the U.S. can arrange to have their payments electronically deposited in a U.S. bank.
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  • You can cancel or decrease your coverage at any time. You cannot increase your coverage.
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  • A court order related to your divorce or legal separation agreement can:
    • Divide your annuity;
    • Divide a refund of your retirement contributions made when you leave federal service before retirement;
    • Permit your ex-spouse to continue health insurance coverage;
    • Require you to assign your life insurance;
    • Garnish your annuity to pay alimony, child support, in cases involving child abuse, or for Chapter 13 bankruptcy;
    • Award life insurance; or
    • Award a survivor benefit.
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  • If you are in good health and you retire for reasons other than disability, you may elect to provide a survivor annuity to someone with an insurable interest. You can elect to provide an insurable interest benefit and the maximum benefit for a spouse or an ex-spouse. Spousal consent is not required. However, if you are married and elect an insurable interest benefit for your spouse, spousal consent is required. If you elect an insurable interest benefit, you are responsible for arranging for and paying the cost of any medical examination required to show you are in good health. A report of the medical examination should be included with your retirement application. You can elect to provide an insurable interest annuity only for someone who has an insurable interest in you. "Insurable interest" is an insurance term which applies to someone who would reasonably expect to derive financial benefit from your continued life. For survivor benefit election purposes, an insurable interest is presumed to exist if you name as beneficiary of the insurable interest, any of the following individuals:
    • a spouse;
    • a blood or adopted relative closer than first cousins;
    • an ex-spouse;
    • a person to whom you are engaged to be married; or
    • a person with whom you are living in a relationship that would constitute a common-law marriage in a jurisdiction that recognizes common-law marriages.
    If the person named is not one of the above, you should submit affidavits with your retirement application from one or more people with knowledge of the individual's insurable interest. The affidavits should state:
    • the relationship between you;
    • the extent to which the person named is dependent on you;
    • the reasons why the person named might reasonably expect to derive financial benefit from your continued life.
    The reduction to provide an insurable interest benefit is computed as follows:
    • If the person named is older, the same age, or less than 5 years younger than the retiree, the reduction is 10 percent;
    • If the person named is 5 but less than 10 years younger than the retiree, the reduction is 15 percent;
    • If the person named is 10 but less than 15 years younger than the retiree, the reduction is 20 percent;
    • If the person named is 15 but less than 20 years younger than the retiree, the reduction is 25 percent;
    • If the person named is 20 but less than 25 years younger than the retiree, the reduction is 30 percent;
    • If the person named is 25 but less than 30 years younger than the retiree, the reduction is 35 percent; or
    • If the person named is 30 or more years younger than the retiree, the reduction is 40 percent.
    The insurable interest automatically ends if the insurable interest dies, if you marry the insurable interest and elect to provide a spousal benefit, or if the named person is your spouse and you change your election to provide a spousal survivor benefit.
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Total Count: 466, Number of Pages: 32, Page: 6
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