Q: I am a Federal Employees Retirement System employee with the Prison Bureau (mandatory retirement at 57). My husband and I own ranch/farmland as an investment. After I retire, will the income from these operations be considered applicable for the Social Security earnings limit ($13,560 in 2008)? We have almost always shown a net loss on this operation in income tax reporting. A: The Social Security earnings limit only applies to earning from wages or self-employment. If you report the income on your federal taxes and Social Security taxes are deducted from any of it, that portion would be counted…

Q: I am a retired civil service employee. If I choose to seek employment with the Transportation Security Administration, what will the effect be on my current retirement annuity? What will the effect be if I become employed by TSA and later choose to retire again? A: What happened would depend on the position into which you were rehired. If it was a regular position, your salary would be reduced by the amount of your annuity. If you made a deposit to the retirement fund, you’d be able to receive a supplemental annuity if you were employed for at least…

Q: I work for the U.S. Postal Service, which has always had substantial overtime available. I have been told that overtime worked does not contribute to my retirement annuity. Why does it not contribute toward my retirement annuity as other civil service jobs do? It appears that the same amount is still taken out in taxes, so where does the money go? Do I theoretically get it back at the end of the year in my tax return? A: By law, federal annuities are calculated using basic pay, and retirement deductions are only taken out of that amount. They aren’t…

Q:As I understand it, postmasters will be offered the voluntary early retirement. I am 56 and have 22-plus years. I have only had health coverage since May 24. I had been covered under my husband’s health insurance until his retirement and he did not continue it. Since this was considered a life changing event, I was allowed to take out insurance then. What are my chances of the requirement for five years’ coverage being waived for voluntary early retirement in this situation? A: You should be eligible for a waiver of the five-year requirement if you were enrolled in the…

Q: I have worked for the Veterans Affairs Department for 43½ years. I worked from Sept. 15, 1963, to Sept. 15, 1966, and drew out my retirement of $525. I returned to work in March 1967. They pro rated my time to March 15, 1967, which gives me the 43½ years of service. Do I need to pay back my retirement that I drew out? How much would it cost me? I have to work for two or three more years. I work nights, weekends and holidays with some overtime. I am sure I make more working than I would…

Q: I read your article in the Sept. 8 paper concerning the CSRS Offset [“CSRS Offset: The basics”]. I am an employee who transferred to the Federal Employees Retirement System from the Civil Service Retirement System. I have more than nine years of CSRS service. I have more than 20 years of FERS service and 25 years of fully qualifying Social Security payments. Do the same rules apply concerning CSRS Offset apply to me as to individuals who are fully in the CSRS? My understanding is that to escape the CSRS Offset, a regular CSRS employee would need 30 years…

Q: I have two questions. First, I am retired from the U.S. Postal Service, civil service and my Social Security payment on my husband’s Social Security account is reduced because of the windfall elimination provision. I heard from someone that the reduction in my Social Security benefits cannot be more than half of the amount of my pension. Is that true? My second question, is, is it true that the windfall elimination provision does not apply to survivor benefits? A: First, your spousal Social Security benefit wasn’t reduced because of the windfall elimination provision; it was reduced because of the…

Q: I am 59 years old, and I left the U.S. Postal Service in May with plans to collect my retirement under the postponed retirement policy when I turn 60. Now the Postal Service is offering early outs. Would I be able to apply for my unreduced retirement benefits now or do I still need to wait until I am 60 since I am out already? A: Since you are already retired, you aren’t eligible for voluntary early retirement. That option is only available to current employees covered by your agency’s Office of Personnel Management-approved authority. — Reg Jones

Q: I am a 55-year-old nurse who has been working full time with Veterans Affairs for 20 years. What is the minimum retirement age for me to retire with full health benefits? Also, if I were to continue working part time for the next five years, how would this affect my annuity and benefits? A: As for your first question, you’ve mixed two unrelated things together. To be eligible to retire under the Federal Employees Retirement System with an unreduced annuity, you would need to meet one of the following age and service combinations, which match your situation: at your…

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