Q. My father retired from the federal government and elected a survivor benefit for my mother. She recently passed away. He was told by someone in the Office of Personnel Management that he couldn’t name me to receive that a survivor benefit. Is this right? A. Yes, it is. Only a spouse (or a former spouse under a court order) can receive a survivor benefit. When your mother passed away, he should have informed the Office of Personnel Management. At that point, the reduction in his annuity to provide for a survivor benefit would have been eliminated and his annuity…

Q. I’m a federal employee who was in leave-without-pay status during the three years I was on active duty. I’ll be retiring soon. If I make a deposit for that time, can I use my higher military base pay to calculate my high-3 when I retire? A. No. By law your high-3 is based solely on your highest three consecutive years of civilian basic pay.

Q. If I retire on Dec. 31, 2019, and start drawing Social Security on Jan. 1, 2020, would there be an offset if the amount of the final annual leave payout exceeded the Social Security earnings limit for 2020? A. Probably not. That’s because of the Social Security Administration’s “first-year rule,” which applies to earnings for one year, usually the first year of retirement. It allows SSA to pay a full Social Security benefit for any whole month in which it considers you to be retired and when your earnings from wages or self employment are less than the annual…

Q. I am a federal employee who is covered by Tricare. Is it true that I can enroll in the FEHB program during the next Open Season and then put it on “hold” when I retire, I can activate it again if I need it? A. Yes, it’s true. If you are enrolled in the FEHB program when you retire, you can suspend that coverage, then reactive it if you ever lose coverage under Tricare.

Q. If I get married after I retire and elect a survivor annuity for my husband, I understand that I would need to pay the difference of what I would have paid had we been married at retirement plus 6 percent interest. For example, if I retired in January and married in June, if I understand this correctly, I need to wait 9 months for it to be effective so 9 plus 5 (months I would be married) would equal 14 months. If, for example, the difference in the annuity would be $50, I would owe $50×14 = $700 plus…

Q. I’m a CSRS employee who will be retiring on Dec. 31. Over the years I worked odd jobs and earned 32 Social Security credits. When I retire I’ll be paid for a lot of unused annual leave. Can that time be used to buy additional Social Security credits? A. Your paid annual leave cannot be used to get Social Security credits. Only earnings from wages or self-employment that are subject to Social Security taxes can secure those credits.

Q. Is there a limit on how many hours of comp time you can get paid for when you retire? Does the balance of annual leave have any effect on your comp time balance? A. Compensatory time must be used within 26 pay periods. If you retire and have any compensatory time remaining, it will be paid at the hourly overtime rate in effect when you earned it.

Q. I have over 12 years of active duty service in the Army. I have accepted a job with a federal agency. I’ve been told that I can “buy back” my active duty time. How do I go about doing that? A. Yes, you can make a deposit for your active duty service and get credit for that time in determining your length of civilian service and have it used in your civilian annuity computation when you retire from the government. If you complete that deposit within two years after you come on board, you won’t be charged any interest on…

Q. Do CSRS Offset retirees receive separate payments from Social Security and the Office of Personnel Management? A. If you retire before age 62, you will receive a single annuity payment from OPM. When you reach age 62, your CSRS annuity will be reduced by the amount of Social Security benefit you earned while a CSRS offset employee, and you will begin receiving a separate Social Security payment that represents the amount of Social Security benefit you earned while covered by CSRS Offset. That payment will be larger if you have other Social Security-covered service outside of your years as…

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