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More on the FERS Supplement

Last week, I wrote about the Federal Employees Retirement System Annuity Supplement. Some people refer to this benefit as the Social Security supplement rather than the FERS supplement, since the purpose of this benefit is to bridge the time between employees’ retirement under FERS and their eligibility for Social Security benefits. That’s one way to look at it: Although the FERS supplement is based only on civilian federal service, not Social Security-covered employment in the private sector or military service, it does provide supplemental income prior to Social Security eligibility.

As I noted last week, not everyone who retires under FERS is entitled to the supplement. To get one, you must:

  • Be under age 62. (The supplement will end at 62, regardless of whether you apply for Social Security then or not).
  • Not be retiring under the disability provisions of FERS.
  • Not be applying for a deferred retirement. (A deferred retirement is payable to an employee who leaves federal service with at least five years of creditable civilian service and before being eligible for immediate retirement.)
  • Be eligible for an immediate, unreduced retirement.

The latter group includes who are retiring:

  • At their minimum retirement age (between 55 and 57 ...

A Little Extra Under FERS

Almost half of all employees who retire under the Federal Employees Retirement System are entitled to receive the FERS Supplement. The supplement is a temporary boost to the basic retirement benefit designed to take the place of the Social Security tier of FERS when an employee retires at an age younger than 62. Those who retire under the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority option also are entitled to the FERS supplement when they reach the FERS minimum retirement age of 55 to 57, depending on their year of birth.

In 2011, a total of 37,839 employees retired under FERS. Of those, 18,490 were not eligible to receive the supplement, since they were retiring at 62 or later -- or on a disability retirement or an immediate or postponed “MRA+10” retirement (a reduced benefit for employees who are old enough to retire, but don’t have the minimum service required for an unreduced benefit). The supplement is payable when you retire at the MRA with 30 years or more of service, or at age 60 with at least 20 years of service. It also is payable to employees who retire under special provisions, such as law enforcement officers and firefighters ...

The Index: 2013 Edition

Another year has come and gone. As my mother used to say, “The older you get, the faster time goes.” I celebrated my 55th birthday on Jan. 1 -- which would have marked my first eligibility for retirement under CSRS with 33 years of service, since I was hired on Nov. 2, 1980. But I left federal service in 1988, after only seven and a half years in government. I didn’t have “golden handcuffs” under the Civil Service Retirement System yet, so I left to make a career out of training other federal employees on their retirement benefits.

I have thought about finishing my federal career at some point, but I’m having so much fun doing training with the National Institute of Transition Planning, writing this column and co-hosting the For Your Benefit radio program on Federal News Radio that I am not sure returning to federal service would be my best move -- especially since my husband is ready to retire soon and it would be nice to ease into retirement with him.

For those of you who also are thinking about retirement, here’s my annual index to previous Retirement Planning columns. This year, I’ve added ...

A Look Ahead

In my last column, I took a look back at changes in the federal retirement world in 2012. This week, let’s take a look ahead at what has already changed for 2013, and what other developments might be on the horizon.

COLAs

Civil Service Retirement System retirees (including survivor annuitants), eligible Federal Employees Retirement System retirees (including survivor annuitants), Social Security recipients and military retirees received a 1.7 percent cost-of-living adjustment to their benefits on Jan. 1. CSRS retirees whose benefits began between Jan. 1 and Nov. 30, 2012, received a portion of this COLA based on the number of months they were retired before Dec. 1.

Eligible FERS retirees include those who retired under special retirement provisions (such as law enforcement officers and firefighters), regular retirees 62 and older, and disability retirees. FERS retirees who were entitled to the COLA, but whose benefits began between Jan. 1 and Nov. 30, 2012, received a pro-rated COLA based on the number of months they were retired before Dec. 1.

Children’s survivor benefits increased by 1.7 percent as well. Under FERS, these benefits are reduced by Social Security benefits paid to surviving children.

FERS Changes

The New Year ...