CSRS questions


Q. I have two questions if you don’t mind.
1. When I retired (CSRS), I elected full survivor benefits for my wife. Will her survivor benefit be based on the amount of my annuity when I retired or when I died?
2. With all the talk of private retirement funds being decimated by the economic downturn, is there any way of knowing or determining how financially solvent the CSRS retirement fund is?

A. If you were to die before your wife, she would receive 55 percent of the annuity you would have received if you hadn’t elected a survivor annuity, increased by every cost-of-living adjustment you’ve gotten on your annuity up to the day you died. And her survivor annuity will be increased by every cost-of-living adjustment that occurs up to her death.


About Author

Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to fedexperts@federaltimes.com.


    • You can give them a copy of your 1099R for 2015 and the annual update of annuity adjustments that comes out in the first quarter of each year.

  1. I have heard that SSN retirees have a limit on how much they can earn if they work part time before their SSN benefits are reduced. Is there a similar trigger for CSRS retirees? And, if there is, how much might I have to earn before I see a possible reduction in my Federal retiement check?

    • First, anyone receiving Social Security retirement benefits and still working can earn Social Security benefits; however, if you haven’t reached your full Social Security retirement age, those benefits will be reduced by the Earnings Test if you earn over certain limits. Second, if you were covered by a retirement system where you din’t pay Social Security taxes, such as CSRS, that benefit will be further reduced – but not eliminated – by the Windfall Elimination Provision. To learn more about the Earnings Test, go to https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/retirement/planner/rule.html. As for your federal retirement benefit, it won’t be affected in any way.

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