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Retirement FAQs Pre-Retirement

General

  • Everyone born in 1929 or later needs 40 credits to be eligible for Social Security retirement benefits. Since you can earn 4 credits per year, you need at least 10 years of work that subject to Social Security to become eligible for Social Security retirement benefits. When you work in a job that is subject to Social Security, your wages are posted to your Social Security record and you receive earnings credits based on those wages. The Social Security Administration uses these credits to determine your eligibility for Social Security retirement benefits and for disability or survivors benefits if you should become disabled or die. Each year, the amount of earnings needed for a credit rises as the average earnings levels rise. In 2001, you receive 1 credit for each $830 of earnings, up to the maximum of 4 credits per year.
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  • FERCCA allows OPM to compensate individuals for certain expenses and losses related to correction of a retirement coverage error. OPM will issue detailed guidance regarding the specific types of expenses and losses that will be compensated. You will receive our guidance as soon as it is available if you are registered on the FERCCA File Database.
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  • You must file the appeal with the MSPB within 30 calendar days after the date you receive the decision letter.
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  • You may not have a choice about Social Security coverage. If you should have had Social Security coverage during your Federal employment, then you must have Social Security coverage in addition to your Federal retirement coverage. FERCCA does not allow you to choose a retirement plan without Social Security coverage. If you were incorrectly put in CSRS when you should have been put in CSRS Offset, your retirement coverage must be corrected to CSRS Offset. Likewise, if you were incorrectly put in CSRS Offset when you should have been put in CSRS, your retirement coverage must be corrected to CSRS because you are not eligible for Social Security coverage during your Federal employment. You cannot choose to keep your Social Security coverage. However, Social Security will give you credit for all but the last 3 years before your record was corrected. See the question I should have been CSRS. Instead, I paid into Social Security. What happens to the Social Security taxes I paid when my agency corrects my retirement coverage to CSRS? for more information. If you were erroneously put in FERS and should have been put in CSRS, then you will have a chance to choose whether you want to keep FERS (and Social Security) coverage.
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  • Actually, you're probably better off in CSRS Offset because you're earning benefits under both Social Security and CSRS. Your combined benefits under Social Security and CSRS Offset will be at least the same as, if not more than, what you would have received under Social Security and CSRS if your record had not been corrected. While working, you are earning retirement credits under the relatively generous CSRS formula. You also are adding to any Social Security benefits you have already earned, increasing your career earnings under Social Security and, as a result, your Social Security benefit. When you retire, OPM will compute your CSRS Offset benefit under the same rules that apply to other CSRS retirees. When you become eligible for Social Security benefits, OPM will reduce your benefit. This reduction is based on the value of the Social Security benefit you earned during your CSRS Offset service. In other words, instead of getting one check from OPM for all of your Federal service, some of the payment will come from the Social Security Administration. In addition, with more of your retirement income paid from Social Security, you have an increased tax advantage because part, or all, of your Social Security benefit will be exempt from Federal income tax. Only a small portion of a CSRS, or CSRS Offset, benefit is excluded from Federal income tax.
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  • Allow a reasonable time for your agency to provide you with an official notice of the decision. If they fail to contact you in a reasonable amount of time feel free to contact them.
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  • Except for the last 3 years, the money you erroneously paid into Social Security will remain to your credit in the Social Security fund. The Social Security Administration will include all but those last 3 years in determining your eligibility for, and the amount of, future benefits. The amount you paid into Social Security for the last 3 years will be transferred to your account in the Civil Service Retirement fund. Your employing agency will pay all additional retirement contributions owed for your CSRS time. It may not go back and bill you for additional retirement deductions when it corrects the error.
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  • If you have received notification that you are eligible for FERCCA relief (a Letter of Eligibility), processing of your case will continue in order to develop an Election Summary package. This package will be mailed to you and followed soon thereafter by a telephone call from a counselor who will confirm that you received the package, had sufficient time to review it, and who will be prepared to answer any questions that you have about the information in the package and what the next steps are to complete the process.
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  • We began collecting the records we need to process retiree and survivor cases in June. In most instances we will be working on your case long before you actually hear from us. The first step in the process is to collect your service history and payroll records. After we have your records we'll carefully review all your retirement coverage determinations and verify your eligibility for relief under FERCCA. Then we'll send you a copy of the information we have and ask you to review it. We'll also ask you to give us some information in order to prepare decision information for you to use. We'll ask for things like, "When do you plan to retire?", "Do you plan to elect a survivor annuity?" Next we'll prepare a personalized decision package for you and you'll be contacted by a counselor to review the information.
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  • It is important to remember that contact by a counselor will occur only after you receive a Letter of Eligibility. If you have received notification that you are eligible for relief under FERCCA (a Letter of Eligibility), processing of your case will continue in order to develop your Election Summary package. This package will be mailed to you and followed soon thereafter by a telephone call from a counselor who will confirm that you received the package and to make sure that you had sufficient time to review it. The counselor will be prepared to answer any questions that you may have about the information in the package and will explain the next steps to complete the process.
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  • In the coming months, OPM will be providing agencies and employees with detailed information about FERCCA, the different retirement plans, and how you make an election. OPM wants to make sure that you receive complete counseling about your options before you make your election. Once you make your election, you cannot change it. OPM will contact you and provide you with detailed information regarding your options under FERCCA. For example, you will know how much you can expect to receive under each retirement plan, including Social Security and Thrift Savings Plan benefits. You do not have to make an election until you have had the opportunity to ask all questions you have about your retirement benefits. We at OPM realize that some of you may be postponing retirement or other major events until your retirement coverage error is resolved. While we will provide election information and benefits counseling as soon as possible, we will make special provisions for those individuals who need to make an election immediately.
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  • Your OPF contains personnel documents that reflect your Federal employment history. These documents show the type of appointment, retirement coverage, changes in retirement coverage, and effective date, among other information. These four pieces of information, along with the 5-year test, are used as the basis for determining FERCCA eligibility.
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  • We will suspend processing of the case and contact the employing agency to request the missing or any related documentation. In some cases where documentation is lost or missing, the individuals who have kept copies of their records are able to supply the necessary document(s) or a valid substitute. If documentation cannot be recovered, we will work with the individual and the employing agency to develop alternative documentation.
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  • We are currently working on procedures for making these types of corrections and anticipate that we will begin correcting them in the near future.
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  • CSRS stands for the Civil Service Retirement System. CSRS was created in 1920 and was the only retirement plan for most Federal civilian employees until 1984. CSRS is a defined benefit retirement plan that provides retirement, disability, and survivor benefits. Agencies deduct a set percentage of your basic pay (7% for most employees) and contribute a matching amount to CSRS. The basic annuity is computed based on your length of service and the highest average basic pay you earned during any 3 consecutive years of service (know as the "high-3" average pay). For most employees, the CSRS basic benefit is computed by adding:
    • 1% of your high-3 average pay times service up to 5 years, plus
    • 1% of your high-3 average pay times years of service over 5 and up to 10, plus
    • 2% of your high-3 average pay times years of service over 20.
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Total Count: 62, Number of Pages: 5, Page: 4
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