Posted on Monday, 2nd August 2010 by

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We receive many questions each month from retirees and federal employees and many are focused on the following subject areas. I suggest copying this article and keep it with your important papers so you and your family will have the answers needed when faced with these issues.

Retirement Income Verification

If a mortgage company or institution requires an official confirmation for your annuity payments you must have the fax number of the financial institution available and call OPM at either 1-888-767-6738 or 202-606-0500. The OPM retirement specialist will ask you for your name and Claim number (Retirement CSA #). They will fax the confirmation of annuity to your financial institution immediately. You can also fax the request to OPM at 724-794-6633 however this could take up to a week or longer to receive a reply depending on the workload at the office.  It is often difficult contacting OPM by phone. Go to our OPM contact listing for details on best times to call and other helpful information including how to request a federal retiree identification card.

Annuity Direct Deposit Changes and Retirement Paperwork Requirements

To enroll in Direct Deposit for your annuity check or to change your enrollment to a new bank or account, OPM needs to know the routing number of the financial institution and your account number. The financial institution will provide this information. Once you have your account and routing numbers, retirees can call OPM at 1-888-767-6738 or 1-202-606-0500 to make this change by phone or initiate it online through OPM’s retirement system at http://www.servicesonline.opm.gov. To process your request online you have to first establish an account through OPM.

The financial institution can also submit a SF 1199A form to OPM for processing your direct deposit.  The form can be faxed to OPM or sent to OPM via regular mail. Federal employees that wish to set up direct deposit when they retire must complete a SF1199A form and submit it with their retirement paperwork to continue with automatic direct deposit after they retire.  This has to be done even if the federal employee currently has his or her check deposited in an account now. When you retire OPM processes payment and needs to know where to send your monthly payments.  The employee and bank must sign and date the form prior to sending it in with your paperwork. Complete mailing addresses, PDF fill in forms, fax numbers, and procedures are available online at http://federalretirement.net/retireforms.htm.

Military Buyback (Credit)

There are many issues to consider when determining whether or not  it is beneficial for a federal employee with prior military service to buy back their military time to receive credit for federal retirement. First and foremost you MUST make a deposit and payback your military time PRIOR TO RETIRING. We have written numerous articles on this subject to answer questions such as;  should I do this, how do I start the process, and is it cost effective and more. Links follow for critical information on this subject:

Retirement Eligibility

There are many variables to consider to determine ones eligibility for retirement.  One of the most frequently asked questions are from federal employees who started working for Uncle Sam in their mid to late 50s and have military time. These feds want to know how soon they can retire and collect a federal pension.

For voluntary civilian retirement the employee MUST work at least 5 years of creditable civilian service. Military service credit can’t be used to meet the 5 year minimum eligibility. Therefore, if you are age 60 with 4 years of creditable civilian employment and 4 years of military time that you bought back, you can’t retire until you reach age 62 and then you would have 10 years towards retirement for annuity calculations. Eligibility requirements are discussed and eligibility charts provided for both CSRS and FERS employees on www.federalretirement.net. You can also estimate your monthly annuity payment on this site.

Retirement Cost Analysis

In preparation for making that leap to retirement many ask questions about financial concerns and how to estimate their post retirement income. I developed a spreadsheet with complete instructions that help federal employees determine, within reason, what they and their spouse will have to live on when they retire.  This spreadsheet can be downloaded and the examples present a realistic assessment for an average retiree plus it also determines what the surviving spouse will have to live on when the inevitable happens.

Use this spreadsheet to determine what your post retirement income and expenses will be and share this information with your spouse so they too will feel comfortable with your decision.  This exercise will also help you focus on the realities of retirement and help you assess whether or not you will need to work part time to supplement your income.

Clarifications

The Treasury Direct Program

In the June article I mentioned that the U.S. Savings Bond program will be suspended for payroll deduction shortly and that you can still buy bonds through Treasury Direct. There was a typo in the link for the Treasury Direct program in the newsletter and the correct link is www.treasurydirect.gov. You can purchase savings bonds online or buy treasury notes, bills and bonds through Treasury Direct.

Social Security Clarification

A site visitor asked the following questions about the Social Security Adjustment – Additional INCREASES for Active Military Service example that I discussed in my June article.

Question: Didn’t we get credit for our military time in Social Security?  Or does this mean they are adding 16 more quarters to our Social Security benefits (4 years time 4 quarters a year)?

Answer: You won’t get additional quarters, they give military additional cash for each quarter they served because if they didn’t you may not have made a sufficient amount for that time to be considered a substantial earnings year. For example, I was making about $97 a month military pay in early 1969 and that times 12 is only $1,164 for the entire year. I actually made a little more because I was promoted the first year. If you go to the Social Security tables at http://www.ssa.gov/retire2/military.htm you will see that from 1968-1971 you had to make $1,950 to meet substantial Social Security earnings that year to receive Social Security credit.

They will add $300 a quarter or $1,200 for each year you served. That increased my earnings for 1969 to $2,364 on paper and they will now count that year towards social security benefits.

One other point of to consider is that the adjustment is automatic for anyone who served from 1968 through 2001 and there isn’t any adjustment for military service after 2001. Service prior to 1967 isn’t automatically added and you have to take your DD-214 with you when you apply and request that your Social Security is properly adjusted for the time you served.

Updates

A major update was published last month for www.federaljobs.net. We spent 5 months redesigning the site and added new and expanded features for federal employees and anyone seeking jobs in the federal government. The new jobs board provides comprehensive job listings for government and private sectors in your area so that job seekers can evaluate ALL potential opportunities in their area.

Learn more about your benefits, employment, and financial planning issues on our site and visit our Blog frequently at http://fedretire.net to read all forum articles.

Visit our other informative sites

The information provided may not cover all aspect of unique or special circumstances, federal regulations, and financial information is subject to change. To ensure the accuracy of this information, contact your benefits coordinator and ask them to review your official personnel file and circumstances concerning this issue. Retirees can contact the OPM retirement center. Our articles are not intended nor should they be considered investment advice. Our reply is time sensitive. Over time, various dynamic economic factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change.”

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    Posted in ANNUITIES / ELIGIBILITY, BENEFITS / INSURANCE, EMPLOYMENT OPTIONS, ESTATE PLANNING, FINANCE / TIP, LIFESTYLE / TRAVEL, RETIREMENT CONCERNS, SOCIAL SECURITY / MEDICARE, SURVIVOR INFORMATION | Comments (0)