In April, the Republican budget proposal included a provision that would eliminate the special retirement supplement. The SRS bridges the day you retire and age 62, when you’ll first be eligible for a Social Security benefit.
The SRS is based on your years of actual FERS service. It doesn’t include any other Social Security-covered employment, such as work in the private sector or active duty service in the armed forces, even if you made a deposit to the retirement system to get credit for that time.
To be eligible for the SRS, you must be under age 62, eligible for an immediate annuity, and retire at your minimum retirement age with at least 30 years of service; at age 60 with at least 20 years of service; under one of the special provisions for law enforcement officers, firefighters, air traffic controllers, or military reserve technicians; or at your MRA under one of the early retirement or buyout provisions. If you meet the eligibility criteria for the SRS, it is automatically added to your FERS annuity.
Those who aren’t eligible for the SRS include disability retirees; anyone retiring under the MRA+10 provision; anyone who is only eligible for a deferred annuity; or anyone retiring at age 62 or later.
To estimate what your SRS would be take your estimated Social Security benefit at age 62, divide it by 40, and multiply the product by the years you’ve been a FERS employee, rounded to the nearest whole number. Because this is only an estimate, you may get more or less than that amount. The closer you are to retirement the more dependable the SRS estimate will be.
The SRS won’t change from what you get when you first begin receiving it until your SRS ends at age 62, when you’ll first be eligible for a cost-of-living adjustments.
As a rule, if you have earnings from wages or self-employment that exceed the Social Security $16,920 earnings limit, your SRS will be reduced by $1 for every $2 you earn above that amount or stopped until your earnings fall below the limit.
The earnings limit doesn’t apply to special category employees. If one, you’ll receive the SRS regardless of your age. Further, you can earn as much as you like until you reach your MRA; however, once you reach your MRA, you’ll be treated the same as any other FERS retiree.
The SRS is an indispensible ingredient in a FERS employee’s retirement package. Don’t let them take it away from you.