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Support center / Learn more about annuity payments for retirement benefits

Learn more about annuity payments for retirement benefits

FAQs and answers about annuity payments for federal retirement benefits.

Questions and answers

In most cases, you will start to receive interim payments immediately while we process your retirement application and any related documents. These payments represent an estimated portion of your final annuity benefit and are usually made on the first business day of each month. Interim pay helps to provide you with an income until we finish processing your application.

It may take up to 8 weeks to process a withdrawal after all properly completed withdrawal forms and separation data have been received by the TSP Service Office. The TSP Service Office cannot process a withdrawal election until they receive an Employee Data Record from your former agency's payroll office indicating that you have separated from federal service.

An unpaid TSP loan may delay disbursement of the TSP account balance.

Your employer will provide you with information about your withdrawal options and the option to keep your money in the TSP. If you choose not to withdraw your funds, in the event of your death the TSP Service Office would pay the funds based on your written designation form on file. If you haven't completed a designation form, payment would be made to your survivors in the following order:

  • Retiree's widow or widower
  • Retiree's child or children, and descendants of deceased children by representation
  • Retiree's parent or parents
  • An executor or administrator of the retiree's estate

If none of the above, then payment would be made to any other of the retiree's next of kin who is entitled under the laws of the state in which the retiree resided at death.

Yes, you can be paid for any unused annual leave you hold at retirement.

The basic Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) annuity cannot exceed 80 percent of your high-3 average salary, excluding your unused sick leave. Generally, you reach the 80 percent limitation when you have 41 years and 11 months of service, not including accumulated sick leave. Fewer years of service may result in a calculation that produces the maximum benefit under special formulas, such as for law enforcement personnel.

Your service beyond the years which provides the maximum benefit won't be used to calculate your annuity. Instead, we'll automatically refund the retirement contributions you made during those years. Interest is paid on this refund payment at the rate of 3 percent per year, compounded annually. You can use the refund to purchase additional annuity, as if the contributions and interest are voluntary contributions.

However, if you have federal civilian employment periods when you didn't contribute to either the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) or the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), then we automatically apply excess contributions toward any deposit due for these employment periods.

You can voluntarily withhold federal and state income taxes, checking and savings allotments, or allotments to other participating organizations.

Federal income tax: Generally, unless you specify a monthly withholding rate or amount, we withhold federal income tax as if you are married and claiming three allowances.

If you want to make updates to your federal tax withholding, you should sign in to your online account or contact us.

Go to OPM Retirement Services Online

Before you make any changes, note that you could be penalized by the IRS if you don't have at least 90 percent of your yearly tax liability either withheld from your salary or annuity, or made via quarterly payments to the IRS.

If you need more information or assistance in determining whether or not you are having the right amount of federal income tax withheld, go to the IRS website or call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040.

State income tax: You must specify the dollar amount of state tax you want withheld from your monthly payments. The withholding must be in whole dollars. The minimum amount we can withhold for state income tax is $5.

If you want to make updates to your state tax withholding, you should sign in to your online account or contact us.

Go to OPM Retirement Services Online

If you don't know the monthly amount you want withheld, contact your state's tax office for information or assistance.

Savings bonds: As of April 1, 2009, OPM is no longer withholding for the purchase of savings bonds. Please contact your bank or other financial institution or the Department of the Treasury to purchase these bonds. For more information on savings bonds, visit the Treasury Direct website or call 1-800-4US-BOND.

Allotments to organizations: You can start, change, or stop an allotment to participating organizations. Participating organizations include:

  • American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE)
  • Fraternal Order of Retired Border Patrol Officers (Museum)
  • National Association of Postmasters of the U.S. Political Action Committee
  • National Rural Letter Carriers Association Political Action Committee
  • National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU)
  • Northwest Plan Administrators
  • Treasury Employees Political Action Committee

If the organization you want to make an allotment to isn't listed above, contact them and ask them to provide the banking information needed to forward payments.

If you want to make updates to your organization allotments, you should sign in to your online account or contact us.

Go to OPM Retirement Services Online

Checking and savings account allotments: Checking and savings account allotments are voluntary deductions for allotments sent by direct deposit to a checking or savings account in your name. You can have up to two allotments. You must maintain at least $100 net annuity payment. The allotment must be for a minimum of $50. The accounts must be maintained at a U.S.-based domestic financial institution. This doesn't include charities, savings bonds, garnishments or other court orders, or union or other organizational dues.

If you want to make updates to your checking or savings account allotments, you should sign in to your online account or contact us.

Go to OPM Retirement Services Online

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Call us if you can't find an answer to your question on OPM.gov or if you can't sign in to OPM Retirement Services Online to manage your annuity account. You may also need to call us for special or complex cases, or because we directed you to.

Phone: 1-888-767-6738
TTY: 711

Hours: Monday thru Friday, 7:40 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. ET
Closed on federal holidays

Our busiest time is between 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. ET.

Please make sure your first and last name, phone number, email address, claim number, and signature are included in any inquiries or documents you mail to us. We usually respond within 1 to 3 weeks after we receive your mail.

Retirement Operations Center
U.S. Office of Personnel Management
Post Office Box 45
Boyers, PA 16017

You can meet with one of our Customer Service Specialists in person. We serve walk-ins on a first come, first served basis—no appointment necessary.

Retirement Services Support Center
U.S. Office of Personnel Management
1900 E. Street, NW
Room 1323
Washington, DC 20415
Directions

Hours: Monday thru Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET
Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. ET
Closed on federal holidays

OPM Retirement Services does not have a main fax number.

You should only fax us documents if an official OPM form or one of our Customer Service Specialists asks you to (the fax number will be provided on the form, or the Customer Service Specialist will provide you one.) Otherwise, you should mail us your documents.