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Posted on Thursday, 13th June 2019 by

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There are many things to consider when determining your FERS retirement benefits. If you meet certain requirements, you will receive a Special Retirement Supplement which is paid until you reach age 62. This supplement is similar to the Social Security benefit earned while you were employed by the Federal government. However, since the formula for the Special Supplement assumes a working life of 40 years, each year of FERS service is worth one-fortieth of the estimated Social Security benefit. The FERS Supplement is often significantly less than the Social Security benefit you will receive at age 62. The supplement ends at age 62 even if you elect to wait to apply for Social Security benefits.

Request a  Federal Retirement Report™  today to review your projected annuity payments, income verses expenses, FEGLI, and TSP projections

Steps to Computing the Annuity Supplement

The FERS supplement provides a level of income before age 62 similar to what the retiree will receive at age 62 as part of a Social Security benefit, if eligible for Social Security at that age. The formula for calculating the supplement is complex and they use your complete creditable service earnings history to determine your benefit.

  • A complete earnings history is compiled using the employee’s basic civil service pay under FERS and deemed wages for years of employment.
  • The earnings history is updated for inflation.
  • The supplement is calculated using the same formula that Social Security uses to compute a Social Security benefit, including the maximum reduction for early retirement under Social Security.
  • The result of the previous step is multiplied by a fraction to approximate the proportion of a full career Social Security benefit earned under FERS.

You may be eligible for a Special Retirement Supplement if you retire:

  • After the Minimum Retirement Age (MRA) with 30 years of service;
  • At age 60 with 20 years of service; or
  • Upon involuntary or early voluntary retirement (age 50 with 20 years of service, or at any age with 25 years of service) after OPM determines that your agency is undergoing a major reorganization, reduction-in-force (RIF) or transfer of function. You will not receive the Special Retirement Supplement until you reach your MRA.

If you transfer to the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) from the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), you must have at least one full calendar year of FERS-covered service to qualify for the supplement.

Retirees that have earnings from wages or self-employment that exceed the Social Security annual exempt amount ($17,640 in 2019) will see their Retirement Supplement either reduced or stopped.

You can request a Personalized 27-page Retirement Planning Report that includes a summary of your retirement benefits and income sources including the Social Security Supplement payment if warranted. Their federal retirement specialists may be able to answer all of your questions and concerns.

Resources

Helpful Retirement Planning Tools / Resources

Disclaimer:Opinions expressed herein by the author are not an investment or benefit recommendation and are not meant to be relied upon in investment or benefit decisions. The author is not acting in an investment, tax, legal, benefit, or any other advisory capacity. This is not an investment or benefit research report. The author’s opinions expressed herein address only select aspects of various federal benefits and potential investment in securities of the TSP and companies mentioned and cannot be a substitute for comprehensive investment analysis. Any analysis presented herein is illustrative in nature, limited in scope, based on an incomplete set of information, and has limitations to its accuracy. The author recommends that retirees, potential and existing investors conduct thorough investment and benefit research of their own, including detailed review of OPM guidance for benefit issues and for investments the companies’ SEC filings, and consult a qualified investment adviser. The information upon which this material is based was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but has not been independently verified. Therefore, the author cannot guarantee its accuracy. Any opinions or estimates constitute the author’s best judgment as of the date of publication, and are subject to change without notice. The author explicitly disclaims any liability that may arise from the use of this material.

Posted in ANNUITIES / ELIGIBILITY, BENEFITS / INSURANCE, ESTATE PLANNING, FINANCE / TIP, RETIREMENT CONCERNS, SOCIAL SECURITY / MEDICARE, SURVIVOR INFORMATION

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Posted on Friday, 31st May 2019 by

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Our Federal Retiree Jobs Board intro states, “Jobs are posted on this site by employers that are seeking highly qualified, reliable, and skilled federal annuitants and employees approaching retirement. Federal employees and retirees are sought out by corporate America due to their exceptional service, skills, education, security clearances held, and knowledge of their agency or federal programs.”

Request a  Federal Retirement Report™  today to review your projected annuity payments, income verses expenses, FEGLI, and TSP projections

Companies continue to submit job vacancies to our Jobs Board to attract federal retirees. You will find jobs ranging from Retirement Benefits and HR Specialists to part time job opportunities in many occupations across the country.  Opportunities exist for those looking to supplement their retirement income or to start a second career.  We provide this job listing service specifically for companies that are seeking to hire experienced retired federal workers.  

Four new HR related vacancies were posted on our Jobs Board by AvantGarde, they are looking for federal HR retirees with a focus on SES, staffing, classification and the VERA / VISP program. The AvantGarde, LLC (AG) HR Classification Specialists support AG’s federal clients by providing classification expertise to the HR office. Multiple full and part-time positions are available; most positions require working onsite in Washington, DC, suburban Maryland or Northern Virginia; for some positions in NOVA there is flexibility for partial or 100% remote work, upon supervisor and client approval. Checkout their listings on our Jobs Board.

Currently, the Census Bureau is aggressively recruiting for the 2020 Census, many part time jobs are available nationwide. Retirees are ideally suited for these high paying positions. Federal annuitants (retirees) can apply according to the local census office. All they have to do is check the dual compensation waiver block when applying. If you apply under the dual compensation waiver process your annuity should not be impacted.

A federal retiree’s annuity is not reduced when returning to work for private sector employers. Federal retirees can return to federal service under the Rehired Annuitant Program. In most cases this will impact and reduce your annuity. However, certain rehired annuitant positions offer waivers for critical hard to fill positions, allowing the applicant to retain their annuity and new salary in full.   

There are additional opportunities to work for contractors. I’ve seen first-hand, while working with the FAA, retirees coming back to work as contractors with companies such as Booz Allen, Lockheed Martin, and others.  Here is a list of the Top 100 Contractors Working for the Federal Government. If you are interested in working for a contractor after retirement, explore your options early and look for opportunities on their website.

You can earn extra income from many sources and I’ve written the following articles highlighting these opportunities.

If you are thinking of going back to work use our jobs board and job-hunting resources to get started and search for opportunities that interest you.

Helpful Retirement Planning Tools 

Request a  Federal Retirement Report™  today to review your projected annuity payments, income verses expenses, FEGLI, and TSP projections

Distribute these FREE tools to others that are planning their retirement

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed herein by the author are not an investment or benefit recommendation and are not meant to be relied upon in investment or benefit decisions. The author is not acting in an investment, tax, legal, benefit, or any other advisory capacity. This is not an investment or benefit research report. The author’s opinions expressed herein address only select aspects of various federal benefits and potential investment in securities of the TSP and companies mentioned and cannot be a substitute for comprehensive investment analysis. Any analysis presented herein is illustrative in nature, limited in scope, based on an incomplete set of information, and has limitations to its accuracy. The author recommends that retirees, potential and existing investors conduct thorough investment and benefit research of their own, including detailed review of OPM guidance for benefit issues and for investments the companies’ SEC filings, and consult a qualified investment adviser. The information upon which this material is based was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but has not been independently verified. Therefore, the author cannot guarantee its accuracy. Any opinions or estimates constitute the author’s best judgment as of the date of publication, and are subject to change without notice. The author explicitly disclaims any liability that may arise from the use of this material.

Posted in BENEFITS / INSURANCE, EMPLOYMENT OPTIONS, FINANCE / TIP, LIFESTYLE / TRAVEL, RETIREMENT CONCERNS

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Posted on Sunday, 26th May 2019 by

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This December I’ll be retired 15 years! Seems like yesterday when I walked out the door with my good friend Nick Trush. The two of us returned to Pittsburgh’s Air Traffic Control Tower a number of times over the years to catch up with old friends. The ability to retire at 55 is a huge benefit for federal employees; I had 35 years and 7 months service when I left to run Bookhaven Press full time. Several months before retiring, I launched the Federal Employee’s Retirement Planning website that answers the many questions I had when I was completing my retirement paperwork.

Turning 70 is a milestone, I start collecting Social Security next month and at this time in life you look at the end game and what lies ahead.  Life after 70 can be a new beginning for many, a time to reflect on your past life and the journey that lies ahead. For me it’s a time to forge ahead as I’ve always done in life: writing a memoir, looking at the opportunities and challenges that may come my way, and coping with the frailty’s life serves up as we age. It isn’t a time to sit back on your laurels and vegetate, it’s a time to grasp what lies ahead with vigor and determination, and accept the inevitable.

Request a  Federal Retirement Report™  today to review your projected annuity payments, income verses expenses, FEGLI, and TSP projections

The following three paragraphs are excerpted from my memoire’s draft introduction.

“Life in the mid twentieth century was all that one could imagine of that time, a Forrest Gump world running at a snail’s pace. The only cell phone we encountered was in the comic strips when Dick Tracy was the rage. Computers were relegated to research facilities, filling large rooms with vacuum tube equipment racks emanating ambient light; illuminating the room’s interior.

Airplanes were just becoming the rage after World War II but most relied on trains and trollies to get to where they needed to be.  The middle class was buying cars and homes at a feverish pace yet most still could only dream about living what was referred to in those days as “The Life of Riley,” an early 1950s TV sitcom.  We watched “Father Knows Best,” the “Donna Reed Show” and others that represented the ideal traditional family infusing our dreams with visions of a stable and satisfying life surrounded by family and friends.”…

My story is that of an average person living life, at times, in what many would consider difficult circumstances. I’m not a renowned personality, infamous, or celebrated in any way. simply put, I represent what one can do with so little, and go so far, even when the world expects so little of you. This is a story of life’s struggle to not only make ends meet but to eventually succeed beyond what most others would have thought possible due to a family’s early misfortunes. My story provides a perspective of that ordinary life and how anyone with drive, motivation, and desire can make their dreams come true in America with hard work and perseverance.” 

Some proclaim that age is only a number, inferring you are only as old as you feel. That’s true to a certain degree but from my perspective it’s so much more. It represents wisdom, learned lessons that you can impart to others, humility, the ability to help family and friends, and a time to watch your children and grandchildren grow and prosper.  A changing of the guard, as it has been since the beginning of time. Each of us strive to leave this world in better shape than when we inherited it. All we can do is try our best in life; it isn’t a matter of success or failure, it’s that we do what we can to make a difference.

Life offers many opportunities for all of us to explore at any age. If we are incumbered due to age or circumstance there are other paths to achieve modified goals and aspirations. I helped an elderly neighbor use his computer for online banking and hobby research. He was 80 at the time. He developed Macro Degeneration towards the end of his life and I enlarged the displayed text so he could still work online.  Eventually, at 92, he needed a large magnifying glass to continue.  He never gave up on life until it gave up on him!

Everyone should have their estate plans formalized by the time they retire, including: wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and end of life planning. If you are 70 or older and haven’t formalized your plans start now, it’s never too late until it is. Estate planning is often put off to a later date that never arrives and our heirs suffer the consequences. Those who have estate plans, age 70 should be a reminder that it may be time to review and update your plans. Circumstances change over time.  The following list of articles may be helpful when developing or reviewing your estate plans:

Request a  Federal Retirement Report™  today to review your projected annuity payments, income verses expenses, FEGLI, and TSP projections

Helpful Retirement Planning Tools / Resources

Disclaimer:
Opinions expressed herein by the author are not an investment, health care, or benefit recommendation and are not meant to be relied upon in investment, health care or benefit decisions. The author is not acting in an investment, medical, tax, legal, benefit, or any other advisory capacity. This is not an investment or benefit research report. The author’s opinions expressed herein address only select aspects of various federal benefits and potential investment in securities of the TSP and companies mentioned and cannot be a substitute for comprehensive investment analysis. Any analysis presented herein is illustrative in nature, limited in scope, based on an incomplete set of information, and has limitations to its accuracy. The author recommends that retirees, potential and existing investors conduct thorough investment and benefit research of their own, including detailed review of OPM guidance for benefit issues and for investments the companies’ SEC filings, and consult a qualified investment adviser. The information upon which this material is based was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but has not been independently verified. Therefore, the author cannot guarantee its accuracy. Any opinions or estimates constitute the author’s best judgment as of the date of publication, and are subject to change without notice. The author explicitly disclaims any liability that may arise from the use of this material.

Posted in UNCATEGORIZED

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Posted on Saturday, 18th May 2019 by

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Those approaching age 70 ½ and older are often perplexed about their Thrift Savings Plan RMD withdrawal options and how to efficiently manage the transaction’s proceeds. Some of the concerns are your TSP balance decreases with each withdrawal, annual income and taxes increase, and the earned income potential vanishes for the cash you now have in hand. There are many ways to use this windfall for the benefit of you and your heirs.  If you are required to take an RMD this year review TSP Changes & Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) to determine your RMD amount and understand the process.

The first thing that came to mind for me was the potential increase in federal taxes, Pennsylvania doesn’t tax retirement account withdrawals. When you withdraw an RMD from the TSP, section 5 of the TSP-77 Request for Partial Withdrawal form requires an automatic 10% federal tax withholding for RMD distributions, 20% for an early withdrawal. They give you the option to increase your federal tax withholding and many use their RMD to pre pay taxes.

Request a  Federal Retirement Report™  today to review your projected annuity payments, income verses expenses, FEGLI, and TSP projections

Your RMD may be sufficient to avoid paying estimated quarterly taxes on other investment income such as realized capital gains, dividends, and interest that is earned on taxable investment accounts throughout the year. If you sold investments this year for capital gains and/or have dividends and interest income from taxable investment accounts, you can use your RMD to cover all or a major portion of your tax liability this year.

Many reinvest their RMD if they have sufficient income from their annuity and Social Security to cover expenses. Unfortunately, you can’t request an in-kind TSP transfer like you have the option to do with other retirement accounts. In-kind transfers allow plan participants to transfer shares from their retirement account to a taxable account to cover their RMD withdrawal.  The transferred shares must cover the full RMD on the date of transfer.  You can’t transfer TSP funds to a private sector account, only cash.

In-kind transfers offer those with other retirement accounts to retain their equity positions and simply transfer them to a taxable brokerage account. This is beneficial for those who don’t want to lose one of their core stock, bond, or mutual fund holdings.

One of the safest investments for your TSP cash is to buy short term Treasury Bills (T-Bills) direct from the government through their Treasury Direct program. Treasury bills are issued for terms of 4, 8, 13, 26, and 52 weeks and they are currently earning just over 2.4%. All you have to do is open an account online and transfer funds direct from your savings; at maturity the Treasury deposits your initial investment plus earned interest back into your savings account. You can elect multiple reinvestments if desired.  You might also find attractive CD rates at local banks, we recently found one local bank offering 13-month CDs at 2.6%.

 

Another option is to reinvest your RMD in one of your taxable brokerage accounts, possibly in a tax-efficient investment. To reduce future taxes, invest in municipal bonds, index funds that typically don’t generate significant capital gains or individual tax efficient mutual funds. Funds such as Vanguard Tax-Managed Balance Fund (VTMFX) or the Vanguard Intermediate Term Tax-Exempt Investment fund (VWITX) are considered tax efficient.

Your RMD could raise your income sufficiently to increase you and your spouse’s Medicare Part B premiums due to your Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI). Medicare Part B premiums are income adjusted.

At age 70 ½ federal retirees have at least three potential sources of annual income to rely on: your FERS or CSRS annuity, Social Security if eligible, and now your TSP RMDs.  If you worked for other private sector employers or owned a small business you may have other retirement accounts to draw from.  You must take RMDs from your retirement accounts to avoid a costly penalty. Effective management of your retirement accounts can grow your retirement savings and possibly reduce your future tax liability. Take care when making your RMD elections this and every year.                                      

Request a  Federal Retirement Report™  today to review your projected annuity payments, income verses expenses, FEGLI, and TSP projections

Helpful Retirement Planning Tools / Resources

Disclaimer:Opinions expressed herein by the author are not an investment or benefit recommendation and are not meant to be relied upon in investment or benefit decisions. The author is not acting in an investment, tax, legal, benefit, or any other advisory capacity. This is not an investment or benefit research report. The author’s opinions expressed herein address only select aspects of various federal benefits and potential investment in securities of the TSP and companies mentioned and cannot be a substitute for comprehensive investment analysis. Any analysis presented herein is illustrative in nature, limited in scope, based on an incomplete set of information, and has limitations to its accuracy. The author recommends that retirees, potential and existing investors conduct thorough investment and benefit research of their own, including detailed review of OPM guidance for benefit issues and for investments the companies’ SEC filings, and consult a qualified investment adviser. The information upon which this material is based was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but has not been independently verified. Therefore, the author cannot guarantee its accuracy. Any opinions or estimates constitute the author’s best judgment as of the date of publication, and are subject to change without notice. The author explicitly disclaims any liability that may arise from the use of this material.Be Sociable, Share!

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Posted in ANNUITIES / ELIGIBILITY, BENEFITS / INSURANCE, ESTATE PLANNING, FINANCE / TIP, SOCIAL SECURITY / MEDICARE, SURVIVOR INFORMATION, WELLNESS / HEALTH

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Posted on Friday, 10th May 2019 by

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I have two short updates to cover before starting Trust but Verify. First, Joe wrote after reading It’s Time to Get Real that you need to check your individual state’s document requirements when applying for the new REAL ID. Your State may require different forms of ID and residency documentation than what Pennsylvania requires. He lives in Illinois and went to renew his driver’s license, upon arrival they advised him that only certain state driver’s license facilities accept REAL ID applications.

I also mentioned in the same article that I recently ordered replacement birth certificates. My daughter and her husbands’ birth certificates were rejected by the Post Office when they applied for passports. According to the Post Office, birth certificates must now include the names of both parents and a raised seal.  I also discussed how to replace lost documents that you may need for your retirement application and for other purposes in a recent article titled Replacing Lost or Stolen Documents.

I received a full refund from the PA Office of Vital Records because I am a veteran. I originally checked veteran status on my replacement birth certificate application and thought I had to pay for my wife’s certificate. They returned the check stating that both the veteran and spouse receive replacement birth certificates at no cost! A welcomed surprise. We need new certificates to apply for passports.

Request a  Federal Retirement Report™  today to review your projected annuity payments, income verses expenses, FEGLI, and TSP projections

Trust but Verify

Doctor’s visits create significant anxiety for many patients of all ages. According to a recent study,“30%–40% of patients who are diagnosed with hypertension on the basis of their office blood pressure measurement alone have normal out-of-office blood pressure, according to ambulatory blood pressure measurements.”

Many suffer from what is called White Coat Hypertension. Anytime they get near a doctor, any doctor, their blood pressure goes through the roof causing erroneous blood and intraocular eye pressure readings. I believe this syndrome may result in premature high blood pressure diagnosis and treatment. High blood pressure also elevates eye intraocular pressure causing concerns for glaucoma patients. This is far more common than previously thought.

If you have been diagnosed with high blood or intraocular pressure (glaucoma) consider whether or not you suffer from White Coat Hypertension. Buy a home blood pressure wrist monitor and compare your home readings to those taken at the doctor’s office. Your office blood pressure readings may not be a reliable indicator and comparison to your home readings may put an entirely different light on whether or not you have a problem or need treatment. 

The impact of White Coat Hypertension on your eye’s intraocular pressure (IOP) is more difficult to ascertain. Your doctor has a variety of tools to measure IOP; the Goldmann Tonometer, Tonopen, and the new ICare Tonometer. All have their advantages and disadvantages. If you have thicker corneas the Goldmann may not be as reliable, it is calibrated at a fixed cornea thickness. They do have compensation tables available however many doctors hesitate to use them. The Goldmann and the Tonopen use numbing drops while the new ICare Tonometers require no medication to measure IOP. An easy to use ICare Home model is now available from some physicians. The ultimate indicator of glaucoma progression is loss of sight and optical nerve damage as indicated by the perimeter and Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) tests, not pressure alone.

There should be a national protocol established for patients that exhibit white coat hypertension tendencies to avoid misdiagnosis and unnecessary treatments. If your doctor doesn’t use the techniques listed below, ask your physician to use them for your checkups.

The following office procedures make sense for patients that suspect they have this condition or know they have this tendency:

  1. The doctor should annotate white coat hypertension tendencies on your chart.
  2. Initially limit the patient’s exposure to the primary care physician. When the patient has to see a medical assistant, then a fellow, complete scheduled tests, and finally see the doctor; the patient’s blood pressure and IOP readings won’t be reliable. With each medical provider interaction, the patient’s anxiety escalates.
  3. Shortly after signing in, a highly trained medical assistant or the doctor should take the patient’s blood pressure and IOP readings. A patient’s anxiety increases as time passes in the office. The sooner they take the patient’s baseline pressure readings the better. 
  4. Glaucoma patience with this condition should request their IOP readings be taken before any other checks including blood pressure readings. Basically, the patient’s blood pressure readings are always high in the office so they obsess over this. High blood pressure is known to elevate IOP.
  5. Scheduled testing should be done after the baseline blood pressure and/or IOP is taken either by the doctor or trained medical assistant.
  6. The doctor should Provide breathing instructions to patients during blood pressure and IOP tests. Holding your breath causes elevated pressure readings. Doctor’s should offer pamphlets that include breathing exercises and suggestions on how to reduce anxiety.
  7. The patient can purchase a home blood pressure cuff monitor and take the readings to your next doctor’s visit. For patients with glaucoma, ask the doctor to provide an ICare Home IOP monitor for several weeks and bring your readings with you to your next office visit.
  8. Have the physician compare the home monitor readings to the office visit baseline readings to determine the patient’s true blood pressure and IOP readings.

If you suffer from or believe you may suffer from White Coat Hypertension, discuss this with your physician and have them incorporate the above protocol for future office visits. It makes sense to be an advocate for your health issues; question your doctor, ask for clarifications and get a second opinion if warranted.

Request a  Federal Retirement Report™  today to review your projected annuity payments, income verses expenses, FEGLI, and TSP projections

Helpful Retirement Planning Tools / Resources

Disclaimer:
Opinions expressed herein by the author are not an investment, health care, or benefit recommendation and are not meant to be relied upon in investment, health care or benefit decisions. The author is not acting in an investment, medical, tax, legal, benefit, or any other advisory capacity. This is not an investment or benefit research report. The author’s opinions expressed herein address only select aspects of various federal benefits and potential investment in securities of the TSP and companies mentioned and cannot be a substitute for comprehensive investment analysis. Any analysis presented herein is illustrative in nature, limited in scope, based on an incomplete set of information, and has limitations to its accuracy. The author recommends that retirees, potential and existing investors conduct thorough investment and benefit research of their own, including detailed review of OPM guidance for benefit issues and for investments the companies’ SEC filings, and consult a qualified investment adviser. The information upon which this material is based was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but has not been independently verified. Therefore, the author cannot guarantee its accuracy. Any opinions or estimates constitute the author’s best judgment as of the date of publication, and are subject to change without notice. The author explicitly disclaims any liability that may arise from the use of this material.

Posted in LIFESTYLE / TRAVEL, RETIREMENT CONCERNS, SURVIVOR INFORMATION, WELLNESS / HEALTH

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Posted on Saturday, 27th April 2019 by

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Most sign up long before age 70 for a myriad of reasons. I decided long ago that I would defer my benefit until I absolutely had to apply. Next month I start collecting Social Security at age 70 and can’t believe the time has come so quickly, yet I look forward to reaching this milestone.

 

 

Social Security was a life saver for my family when my father died in 1951 at the young age of 41. My mother was left with four small children, I was 22 months old at the time. There wasn’t any savings or insurance policies to fall back on, my parents lived paycheck to paycheck. Fortunately, we were able to collect Social Security which provided just enough for the basics.  Mother received $25 a month for each of us when dad first died, increasing to $36 in the late 1950s. Without it we would have been destitute. To this day, I don’t know how mom was able to handle everything on her own. She was a rock!

Request a  Federal Retirement Report™  today to review your projected annuity payments, income verses expenses, FEGLI, and TSP projections

There are many options when signing up for Social Security benefits. The question for many is, should I take my benefit at age 62, 66, 70 or somewhere in between?  I wrote a comprehensive article about this subject last year that you will find helpful:

I decided to wait until age 70 for many reasons. First and foremost was my desire to provide my wife with the highest possible benefit upon my death. A surviving spouse can elect a death benefit that equals the full amount of the deceased spouse’s benefit. I have my annual Social Security statements back to 2011 when I was 62. My monthly benefit has almost tripled by waiting until age 70.

The Windfall Eliminate Provision (WEP) was another factor. It basically reduces CSRS annuitants Social Security Benefit if you have less than 30 years of substantial earnings years. FERS Social Security benefits are not subject to WEP.

If a CSRS retiree has 20 or less substantial earning years employment, where they paid into the Social Security system, their benefit can be reduced by as much as $463 in 2019. Since I continued to work in my business after retiring from federal service, I was able to accumulate 28 substantial earning years. My monthly benefit will only be reduced by $92.60. Actually, I intend to work as long as I’m physically and mentally able so each additional year worked will increase my Social Security benefit.

When I turned 66, full retirement age, I applied for Social Security and immediately suspended so that Mary could collect a higher spousal benefit. This action allowed me to grow my benefit 8 percent a year over the next 4 years.  Mary applied at age 62. Since I applied and suspended my benefit in 2015, I don’t have to reapply, my benefit will start automatically after my 70th birthday next month.

This safety net is a valuable asset for retirees and well worth what we pay into the system. I determined it will take me 7 to 8 years to deplete my contributions. If I’m blessed to live to age 78 or into my 80s, hopefully longer, I’ll still have these benefits to rely on as long as the politicians don’t take them away. If you are approaching age 62 explore your options and make the best decision on when to collect based on your personal situation. There isn’t any “one” right way. You have to do what makes sense for your circumstances.

Explore your options.

Request a  Federal Retirement Report™  today to review your projected annuity payments, income verses expenses, FEGLI, and TSP projections

Helpful Retirement Planning Tools / Resources

Disclaimer:
Opinions expressed herein by the author are not an investment or benefit recommendation and are not meant to be relied upon in investment or benefit decisions. The author is not acting in an investment, tax, legal, benefit, or any other advisory capacity. This is not an investment or benefit research report. The author’s opinions expressed herein address only select aspects of various federal benefits and potential investment in securities of the TSP and companies mentioned and cannot be a substitute for comprehensive investment analysis. Any analysis presented herein is illustrative in nature, limited in scope, based on an incomplete set of information, and has limitations to its accuracy. The author recommends that retirees, potential and existing investors conduct thorough investment and benefit research of their own, including detailed review of OPM guidance for benefit issues and for investments the companies’ SEC filings, and consult a qualified investment adviser. The information upon which this material is based was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but has not been independently verified. Therefore, the author cannot guarantee its accuracy. Any opinions or estimates constitute the author’s best judgment as of the date of publication, and are subject to change without notice. The author explicitly disclaims any liability that may arise from the use of this material.

 

Posted in ANNUITIES / ELIGIBILITY, BENEFITS / INSURANCE, ESTATE PLANNING, SOCIAL SECURITY / MEDICARE, SURVIVOR INFORMATION

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Posted on Thursday, 11th April 2019 by

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Anyone that plans on traveling in the future, applying for a passport or needs access to a government building will require a REAL ID. Without this document travel by plane or anywhere out of country will be impossible.

Graphic excerpted from the DHS website

According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the REAL ID program was passed by Congress in 2005, the REAL ID Act enacted the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the Federal Government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.” The Act established minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards and prohibits Federal agencies from accepting for official purposes licenses and identification cards from states that do not meet these standards.

Request a  Federal Retirement Report™  today to review your projected annuity payments, income verses expenses, FEGLI, and TSP projections

Pennsylvania along with Alaska, Oregon, Montana, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kentucky, and Maine were all a little late to the game. California is still under review. Pennsylvania just started processing REAL ID Driver’s Licenses this spring.  I was one of the first to apply for and receive my new PA Driver’s License that serves as a REAL ID.  The process was fairly simple and straight forward with just a few wrinkles along the way.

Flight restrictions started on January 22, 2018. Passengers with a driver’s license issued by a state that is still not compliant with the REAL ID Act (and has not been granted an extension) will need to show an alternative form of acceptable identification for domestic air travel to board their flight.  To check whether your state is compliant or has an extension, click here.  Passengers with driver’s licenses issued by a state that is compliant with REAL ID (or a state that has been issued an extension) will still be able to use their driver’s licenses or identification cards.

The DHS website states that, “starting October 1, 2020, every state and territory resident will need to present a REAL ID compliant license/ID, or another acceptable form of identification, for accessing Federal facilities, entering nuclear power plants, and boarding commercial aircraft.  This is what they call “card-based” enforcement.  The card, itself, must be REAL ID compliant unless the resident is using an alternative acceptable document such as a passport. The Act does not require individuals to present identification where it is not currently required to access a Federal facility (such as to enter the public areas of the Smithsonian) nor does it prohibit an agency from accepting other forms of identity documents other than documents from non-compliant states (such as a U.S. passport or passport card).

If you need to replace lost documents review “Replacing Lost or Stolen Documents” that I wrote last year.

To obtain my REAL ID I had to present proof of identity, my Social Security Card, and proof of Pennsylvania residency.

If you are a U.S. Citizen, acceptable documents include:

  • A United States birth certificate with a raised seal
  • A valid U.S. Passport or Passport Card
  • Certificate of U.S. Citizenship or Consular Report of birth abroad
  • Certificate of Naturalization

Lawful permanent residents have several documents they too can use to obtain the new ID.

For proof of Pennsylvania residency, I only had to show my PA driver’s license.  They also list your veteran status on your real ID; in Pennsylvania they print a small American Flag with VETERAN typed below. I took a copy of my DD-214 form with me however it wasn’t necessary. You are allowed to self-certify veteran status however you must sign and agree that, “all information contained herein is true and correct. I understand that any misstatement of fact is a misdemeanor of the third degree punishable by a fine up to $2,500 and/or imprisonment up to 1 year (18 Pa.C.S. Section 4904(b))”

My driver’s license was due for renewal so I was able to take care of everything in just one visit to the local Penn Dot office.  You have to have current and updated documents including a birth certificate with raised seal and other original documents to not only get a REAL ID but for passports and passport cards.  Passports have a slightly different ID requirements, your birth certificate must have both parents listed on the raised seal certificate.

My daughter and her husband recently applied for a passport and the clerk rejected their birth certificates. Their official state issued certificates from the 1980s didn’t list their parents on the document. I didn’t need this for our REAL ID, they accepted our raised seal birth certificate that I ordered from the State back in 1987. We ordered new birth certificates from Vital Statistics last week so that we can apply for passports this year.

If you intend to travel in the future or visit a federal facility now is a good time to get your new ID card. It doesn’t take long and the process isn’t complicated, it just takes a little time to gather your  documents, and head to your local driver’s license renewal center.

Request a  Federal Retirement Report™  today to review your projected annuity payments, income verses expenses, FEGLI, and TSP projections

Helpful Retirement Planning Tools / Resources

Disclaimer:Opinions expressed herein by the author are not an investment or benefit recommendation and are not meant to be relied upon in investment or benefit decisions. The author is not acting in an investment, tax, legal, benefit, or any other advisory capacity. This is not an investment or benefit research report. The author’s opinions expressed herein address only select aspects of various federal benefits and potential investment in securities of the TSP and companies mentioned and cannot be a substitute for comprehensive investment analysis. Any analysis presented herein is illustrative in nature, limited in scope, based on an incomplete set of information, and has limitations to its accuracy. The author recommends that retirees, potential and existing investors conduct thorough investment and benefit research of their own, including detailed review of OPM guidance for benefit issues and for investments the companies’ SEC filings, and consult a qualified investment adviser. The information upon which this material is based was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but has not been independently verified. Therefore, the author cannot guarantee its accuracy. Any opinions or estimates constitute the author’s best judgment as of the date of publication, and are subject to change without notice. The author explicitly disclaims any liability that may arise from the use of this material.

Posted in ESTATE PLANNING, LIFESTYLE / TRAVEL, RETIREMENT CONCERNS, Travel

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Posted on Saturday, 30th March 2019 by

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Federal employees have been waiting for months to receive their 1.9% pay raise. Agencies are now processing back pay retroactive to the beginning of the year and the updated 2019 pay charts are available online for your review. We are currently in pay period 7 that ends April 13. When your agency’s payroll office processes the backpay, all should see a welcomed increase in their bank account balance

Request a  Federal Retirement Report™  today to review your projected annuity payments, income verses expenses, FEGLI, and TSP projections

The new locality pay charts are also available for review. The 1.9% increase is a function of the base rate increase of 1.4% plus a locality adjustment. Therefore, your raise, depending on your locality adjustment, will range from a low of 1.66% for the (Rest of the US) chart covering areas not included in a specific locality chart to a high of 2.27% for those working in the Washington DC, Baltimore Arlington area.

To estimate your backpay use the TOTAL INCREASE Percentage listing on the locality table for your area.  For example, Joe works in the LOCALITY PAY AREA OF VIRGINIA BEACH-NORFOLK, VA-NC. He is a GS-11, step 7 earning $74,842 a year. Multiplying Joe’s gross wages of $74,842 by .0187 (1.87% as listed on the locality pay table) equals $1,400, his 2019 pay increase. Divide this figure by 26, the number of pay periods, and Joe will be receiving an extra $53.85 a pay. If Joe received his backpay in pay period 9 he would receive an extra $485 in his pay less taxes.

This may not seem like much, however if you increase your TSP contribution by just 1 percent after receiving your backpay, your retirement fund will grow considerably over time.  In Joe’s case, the 1 percent increase in his TSP will take $28 of his $53.85 increase each pay, he will still have a little extra to spend. Yet, he will be saving an additional $748 a year towards retirement.

Again, this doesn’t sound like much until you look at compounded interest over say the next 20 to 30 years. Saving just $28 biweekly at 4% interest will grow to $22,368 in 20 years and will reach $42,301 in 30 years! That same savings at a 6% growth rate would be worth $28,222 in 20 years and $61,331 after 30 years. A little goes along way and it pays to start early.

Another option for many would be to use part of their backpay with additional contributions biweekly to establish an emergency fund. Possibly set up an allotment to your local Credit Union to get started. A recent report indicated that over half of those working didn’t have any savings, none at all.  In that same report more than 60% couldn’t come up with $1,000 for an emergency!  With the recent government shutdown in the rear view mirror now is a good time to evaluate your spending habits and prepare for the unexpected.

Request a  Federal Retirement Report™  today to review your projected annuity payments, income verses expenses, FEGLI, and TSP projections

Helpful Retirement Planning Tools / Resources

Disclaimer:Opinions expressed herein by the author are not an investment or benefit recommendation and are not meant to be relied upon in investment or benefit decisions. The author is not acting in an investment, tax, legal, benefit, or any other advisory capacity. This is not an investment or benefit research report. The author’s opinions expressed herein address only select aspects of various federal benefits and potential investment in securities of the TSP and companies mentioned and cannot be a substitute for comprehensive investment analysis. Any analysis presented herein is illustrative in nature, limited in scope, based on an incomplete set of information, and has limitations to its accuracy. The author recommends that retirees, potential and existing investors conduct thorough investment and benefit research of their own, including detailed review of OPM guidance for benefit issues and for investments the companies’ SEC filings, and consult a qualified investment adviser. The information upon which this material is based was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but has not been independently verified. Therefore, the author cannot guarantee its accuracy. Any opinions or estimates constitute the author’s best judgment as of the date of publication, and are subject to change without notice. The author explicitly disclaims any liability that may arise from the use of this material.

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