| Read Time: 5 minutes | Federal Retirement

5 Steps for Applying for Federal Disability Retirement

Federal employees who become disabled face significant stress. From handling pain and multiple doctor appointments to worrying about finances and an uncertain future, a federal employee can be overwhelmed. The last thing that a disabled federal employee should have to deal with is filing complex paperwork to apply for federal disability retirement benefits.  At the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D. Wersing, PLLC, our federal employee disability retirement lawyers take the worry out of applying for benefits. We help our disabled-federal-worker clients so that they can focus on their health and their families. Our hands-on approach keeps our clients informed throughout the entire process, from completing the initial paperwork to the appeal of benefit denial. We are experienced in all aspects of Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) disability retirement benefits so that federal employees don’t have to be. For assistance, please contact us online or call (833) 833-3529 today. Requirements For Applying For FERS Disability Retirement To be eligible for the FERS disability program, federal employees must have worked in a covered position for at least 18 months. In addition, an employee must have become disabled while employed and the disability must be expected to last for at least one year. Importantly, however, a work-related injury or illness need not have caused the disability. Federal employees can apply for disability retirement benefits at any age. What Disabilities Qualify for Federal Government Disability Retirement Benefits? To qualify for federal government disability retirement benefits, an employee must experience either a physical or mental disease or injury. The employee’s disability must prevent “useful and efficient service” in the employee’s current job with the federal government. Essentially, the federal employee must be unable to perform one or more essential job functions of their current position. If the employing federal agency can accommodate the worker’s medical condition, the employee may continue to work in his or her current position. In that case, the employee will not be eligible for federal disability retirement. Alternatively, if the employing agency can transfer the disabled employee to a different job, known as the accommodation of last resort, the employee will not be entitled to disability retirement benefits. The new job should be at the same grade or pay level and in the same commuting area. In short, the employee may apply for federal disability retirement only if the employing agency is unable to accommodate the employee’s disability. Five-Step FERS Disability Retirement Application Process There are five essential steps that a federal employee needs to follow to apply for FERS disability retirement. 1. Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits Why? Because when a federal employee applies for FERS disability retirement, the employee must indicate whether he or she has applied for Social Security disability benefits. Remember, you do not have to be approved for SSDI, but you must apply. The applicant also must attach a copy of the Social Security application receipt or award notice to the FERS disability retirement application. If a disabled employee receives Social Security disability payments, the amount of federal disability retirement payments under FERS will be reduced. Importantly, if the Social Security Administration denies disability benefits, federal employees still may be entitled to FERS disability retirement payments. 2. Complete Standard Form 3107, Application for Immediate Retirement Form 3107 is available from federal personnel offices or online here. Federal employees must file their application for federal government disability retirement benefits while still employed with the government or within one year of their separation date.  The Application for Immediate Retirement is several pages long and asks for detailed information, including: Form 3107 also includes the Certified Summary of Federal Service, SF 3107-1. The employing agency completes this certification form to provide a history of the employee’s federal jobs, earnings, and FERS coverage. You can apply for FERS disability retirement before the agency completes this form. After the agency completes that certification, the employee must review and sign it, attesting that it is accurate. The agency also should complete the Agency Checklist of Immediate Retirement Procedures, which is part of Form 3107. In addition, depending on your responses to certain questions, supplemental documentation may be required, such as a marriage certificate, W-4 form, or a DD-214, for example. For guidance on how to complete the application, disabled federal employees can review the instructions that accompany the Application for Immediate Retirement. They may also read an informational pamphlet SF 3113 titled Applying for Immediate Retirement Under the Federal Employees Retirement System. 3. Complete Standard Form 3112, Documentation in Support of Disability Retirement Application Disabled federal employees need to provide documents that support their FERS disability retirement application. Standard Form (SF) 3112 includes five main forms, some of which are completed by the applicant and others to be completed by their physicians or agency. In general, employees use these forms to document their medical condition to show that they are disabled and unable to perform their job duties.  The disabled employee must complete Standard Form 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability. On that form, the applicant describes his or her disease or injury and how it affects current job duties. The applicant then lists the physicians and dates of treatment that can support his or her claim of disability.  Next, the federal employee must ask each doctor to complete Standard Form 3112C, Physician’s Statement. The employee should also provide each doctor with a current job description. With that job description, each doctor can state how the employee’s disease or injury affects the employee’s ability to work. In addition to completing the form, each doctor must enclose medical documentation of the patient’s medical condition on letterhead stationery. Doctors must provide copies of all medical reports detailing the patient’s symptoms and history, diagnostic tests, diagnosis, treatments, and therapies. The doctors also must indicate if and when the employee will recover. Finally, if the doctors place any restrictions on the employee’s activities, such as lifting or standing limits, the doctor must describe those restrictions.  Next, the employing federal agency must complete forms that...

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | Federal Retirement

Can You Lose Your Federal Retirement If Fired?

In addition to competitive pay, federal employees enjoy good benefits and a generous pension. What’s more, federal employees with at least one year of service have significant rights with respect to their job security. Federal employees have a reputation for being hard to fire because of these rights and the corresponding processes. Nevertheless, agencies may fire federal employees for a variety of reasons, including poor performance, misconduct, or downsizing. If you’re a federal employee, you’ve probably wondered, can you lose your federal retirement benefits if fired? How Federal Retirement Benefits Work The Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS), administered by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), awards retirement benefits to eligible employees. FERS covers employees who started their service with the government after January 1, 1987. The Civil Service Retirement Act (CSRS) covers federal employees who started working for the government before that date. FERS is a retirement program that provides benefits from Social Security, a Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), and a Basic Benefits Plan. The first two are transferable to other jobs if a federal employee leaves before retirement. These retirement benefits fully vest in employees after five years of service, though annuities won’t begin until an employee reaches minimum retirement age (MRA). For example, the federal minimum retirement age for employees born in 1970 or later is 57. Although the eligibility rules vary slightly depending on service length, federal employees with more than 10 years of service receive an annuity immediately upon reaching their MRA. Employees with 5-10 years of service can receive an annuity starting at age 62.  Federal employees with at least 10 years of service can elect to take an immediate retirement or defer it. FERS reduces immediate retirement benefits by 5% per year for each year the employee is under age 62. Disability and early retirement may have slightly different timelines depending on the employee’s age and years of service. If you have questions about your federal retirement benefits, a federal employment lawyer can provide advice on your eligibility and the benefits available to you. Do Federal Employees Lose Their Retirement If They’re Fired? The short answer is no. Unfortunately, the misconception that you can lose your federal retirement if fired persists even among federal employees. Many employees incorrectly believe that they will lose their federal retirement benefits if the agency fires them. However, the truth is that federal employees whose retirement benefits have vested are all but guaranteed to receive those benefits, subject to a few exceptions. Employees unaware of this may be tempted or pressured to resign if they know they are about to be fired. These employees are often under the wrong impression that by resigning, they can save the benefits they would otherwise lose. This was exactly the situation in Morrison v. Department of the Navy. In that case, the Department of the Navy alerted an employee that an adverse employment action was pending against him. The Department urged him to resign to avoid losing his retirement benefits. Ruling on the case, the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) noted that retirement benefits earned over the course of a federal career “are generally available upon separation from federal service, even when the separation is agency initiated.” To be clear, this means that when an agency fires a federal employee—whether for cause, poor performance, reduction in force, or otherwise—that employee remains entitled to any vested retirement benefits. There are very limited exceptions to this rule (discussed below), but for the vast majority of federal employees, they will never be an issue. How Federal Employees Can Lose Their Retirement Benefits As mentioned above, there are only a few narrow circumstances in which federal employee will lose their retirement benefits. Under 5 U.S.C. § 8312, federal employees forfeit their retirement benefits only if they are convicted of one or more specific federal crimes. There are more than 20 in total, each covering an act against the national security of the United States, including: Related statutory sections cover additional crimes that would render a federal employee ineligible for benefits. These include: Federal employees who do not commit any of those crimes don’t have to worry about losing their benefits. Can Federal Employees with Voluntary Early Retirement Lose Their Retirement Benefits If Fired? The Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA) allows government agencies to temporarily reduce the minimum age and service requirements for retirement benefits. Agencies usually use VERA to offer employees an incentive to retire voluntarily, often during a restructuring, downsizing, or reorganization. Rather than involuntarily reducing the number of employees at the agency, it may make VERA offers or Voluntary Separation Incentive Payments (VSIP) to willing employees. Unlike with FERS or CSRS, federal employees fired for poor performance or misconduct cannot take advantage of discontinued service annuities under VERA. However, they may still be eligible for a deferred benefit. Federal employment lawyers familiar with government retirement plans can help you assess your options. If you accepted a voluntary early retirement offer from a government agency, a federal employment lawyer can also advise you of your rights moving forward. Hire a Federal Employment Attorney The Law Office of Aaron D. Wersing has been helping federal employees with their retirement and disability benefits for many years. During that time, we’ve helped hundreds of clients reclaim their jobs, stop discrimination, and resolve other issues in the workplace.  If you resigned based on false information about the status of your retirement benefits, we can help. Contact us today or call us at (833) 833-3529.

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | FERS Disability

Reasons Your FERS Application May Be Denied and Can You Reapply?

If the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) denies your Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) disability retirement application, you can reapply if there has been a material change in your circumstances. But getting a denial isn’t always the end of the road. You may have options to ask for reconsideration, or you can appeal a refusal of benefits. And the help of a good attorney can protect your rights during the application and appeal process. If you are looking for a good FERS disability attorney, you are on the right page. The Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D Wersing PLLC exclusively handles employment law cases. We provide award-winning advocacy. Please contact us for help with your federal employment needs.  Why Was My Disability Retirement Application Denied? The FERS disability retirement application process is detailed and complex. There are also several rules regarding who can and cannot receive disability retirement benefits. The OPM might have denied your retirement disability benefits because it believed you were not eligible or because you did not submit an adequate application. 1. Denial Because of Ineligibility Can you be denied retirement benefits? The answer is yes. The OPM can deny your FERS disability retirement benefits if one of the following circumstances applies to you: The OPM might also deny or dismiss your application if you don’t adequately explain how you meet each eligibility requirement. Our skilled and knowledgeable federal employment lawyers can ensure that your application clearly reflects your right to receive benefits. 2. Denial Because Your Application Was Late Your disability application must be timely. You must file your application while you are still federally employed or within one year of separating from your federal job. The application process requires a lot of documentation and statements from several individuals. As soon as you notice that your medical condition is affecting your ability to work, you should contact one of our experienced attorneys. We can help make sure you gather all the necessary information and meet the deadline for requesting benefits. 3. Denial Because of an Inadequate Application Your disability retirement application requires detailed information from you, your employer, and healthcare professionals who have treated you or have information about your condition. And all statements in your application should corroborate each other. If there is a lack of detail or there are discrepancies, the OPM may refuse to give you benefits. You can prevent discrepancies and a lack of detail by:  We can help you with all of this. Along with your disability retirement application, you must also apply for Social Security Disability (SSD)  benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). To prove that you applied for SSD benefits, you must give OPM a copy of your application receipt and a copy of the SSA’s notice of approval or disapproval of your SSD application. If you do not take these steps or provide proof of your application status, the OPM may dismiss your FERS disability retirement application.  What You Can Do After a Denial You have a handful of options to obtain a better result if the OPM denies your request for benefits. These options include the following. Reapplication Generally, you have only one chance to apply for disability retirement based on the same circumstances. However, you can reapply for disability retirement if there is a material change in your circumstances, such as a deterioration of your condition.   Requesting Reconsideration In many cases, the OPM gives applicants a written initial decision regarding their right to benefits. After the OPM makes the initial decision to deny your retirement application, you have 30 days to ask the OPM to reconsider its decision. After reconsidering your case, the OPM issues a written final reconsideration decision that includes its findings and conclusions and information about your right to appeal. Appealing the Denial You can appeal your denial to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) if the OPM does not grant you disability retirement benefits after a reconsideration. And if the initial decision you receive is an initial final decision, you must appeal directly to the MSPB. In general, you have only 30 days to file your appeal, and it must be in writing. Any attempt to seek benefits for retirement disability must include detailed documentation, a clear explanation of your circumstances, and timely filings. We can handle these tasks for you and maximize your chances of receiving your well-deserved benefits. Speak to Attorneys Who Can Turn a No Into a Yes Whether you are on the first, second, or third bite at the apple in your request for retirement benefits, the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D Wersing PLLC can champion your rights. We handle only federal employment cases, so our knowledge and experience are extensive. An award-winning attorney leads our firm, and we are passionate about protecting federal employees. You can contact us for help today by calling or reaching out on our website.  

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Federal Retirement

Is OPM Federal Disability Retirement Considered Earned Income?

In the right circumstances, federal employees can qualify for disability retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM). OPM retirement disability provides regular payments to those who qualify, leading to a natural question come tax season: is OPM disability retirement considered earned income? If so, for what purposes is retirement earned income? OPM disability retirement is generally not considered earned income. However, your retirement disability benefits may qualify as earned income if you receive them before the relevant minimum retirement age. Working for the federal government places you in the heart of bureaucracy. If you need assistance determining whether you qualify for OPM disability, applying for benefits, or understanding your obligations, the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D. Wersing PLLC can help. Our practice focuses on federal employment, making us proficient in guiding our clients through layers of bureaucracy.  How Does OPM Disability Retirement Work? You can qualify for OPM’s disability retirement at almost any age if: If you apply for benefits and are approved, your payments follow the OPM disability retirement pay schedule.  If you are under 62 for the first year, your benefits are calculated based on 60% of your high-3 average salary minus 100% of your Social Security benefits. Until your 62 birthday, if you continue to qualify for benefits, you follow an alternative calculation—40% of your high-3 average salary minus 60% of your Social Security benefits. If you are under 60, your OPM disability retirement benefits can terminate if you: You are restored to earning capacity if your income meets or exceeds 80% of your pre-disability earnings.  If you lose your benefits because you exceed the income limits, they can be reinstated if you dip below $80,000. If you lose your benefits because you medically recover, you may reinstate your benefits if your disability recurs and you do not exceed the earnings limitations.  Is OPM Disability Retirement Considered Earned Income? Whether your OPM disability retirement benefits are treated as earned income depends on context. Generally, earned income comes up in the context of taxes and continuing to qualify for benefits. What Is Earned Income for Tax Purposes? Earned income is a tax-related term, particularly related to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Individuals with low to moderate income can claim the EITC to reduce their tax burden.  Earned income generally includes: This last category comes into play for federal disability retirement. When Is OPM Disability Earned Income for Tax Purposes? Disability benefits are considered earned income if you receive them before you reach the minimum retirement age set by your employer. The federal service sets many different ages related to retirement, including what OPM refers to as the minimum retirement age (MRA). Despite OPM using the same term, your MRA for OPM voluntary or deferred retirement benefits is not the minimum retirement age for disability benefits. Instead, the IRS defines the minimum retirement age as the youngest you could be and still receive disability benefits if you were not disabled. For OPM disability benefits, this age is 62. Before you turn 62, OPM disability benefits count as earned income. What Is Earned Income for the Disability Earnings Survey? OPM regularly checks to see if those receiving disability retirement benefits continue to qualify by sending out a Disability Earnings Survey. If you are under 60, you must show you have not earned 80% or more of your pre-disability earnings. OPM does not consider disability retirement benefits earned income. If you are required to complete a Disability Earnings Survey, do not report your disability retirement benefits as income.  We Can Help If you are struggling to understand your options and responsibilities under OPM federal disability, the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D. Wersing PLLC can help. We have years of experience cutting through and simplifying the federal bureaucracy.

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Federal Retirement

Will You Be Penalized for Retiring Early as a Federal Employee?

With the freedom retirement brings, many of us look for ways to retire earlier. Others retire early due to a change in circumstances. As a federal employee, early retirement may be available depending on your age and years of service. Contact the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D. Wersing PLLC to discuss retiring early from federal service. Our firm focuses exclusively on issues related to federal employment, so you can rely on our experience to guide you as you consider or plan for early retirement. What Are Your Retirement Options? The Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) covers federal employees who started working for the government on or after January 1, 1987. Under FERS, you have several retirement options, including: Your eligibility depends on your years of service and whether you have met the minimum retirement age (MRA).  Minimum Retirement Age Your MRA depends on what year you were born:  When you retire at your MRA, you typically forfeit part of your benefits. Voluntary Retirement You can voluntarily retire when you meet the requirements of the table below: Minimum Age Minimum Years of Service 62 5 60 20 MRA 30 (without penalty) MRA 10 (with penalty) You can also voluntarily retire under special provisions for military personnel, emergency services, or air traffic controllers at any age with 25 years of service or age 50 with 20 years of service. Early Retirement You can receive early retirement if a significant percentage of your agency’s employees will be separated or have their pay reduced because your agency is undergoing a: Your agency head must also request the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issue a Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA). You can qualify for early retirement at any age with 25 years of service or age 50 with 20 years of service. Otherwise, you typically qualify when you reach age 62. Disability Retirement You can qualify for disability retirement if: You can apply at any age, but if you are under 60, your benefits can stop if you medically recover or return to work. Deferred Retirement Former federal employees can qualify for deferred retirement if they: You can meet the service requirements if you arrive at your MRA and have ten years of service or turn 62 with five years of service. Phased Retirement Under phased retirement, you work part-time and receive partial benefits over several months to years. Phased retirement can be an effective option for many who want to space out the retirement process. Are There Penalties for Retiring Early? Depending on the type of retirement, your benefits may be reduced if you retire before age 62.  Specifically, if you take voluntary retirement at your MRA with ten years of service, your annuity is reduced by 5% each year you are under 62. If you take deferred retirement based on reaching your MRA and having ten years of service, your annuity is reduced by 5% for each year and 5/12 of 1 % for each month under age 62. Can You Avoid the Early Retirement Withdrawal Penalty? If you voluntarily retire early, you can postpone receiving benefits to reduce or avoid the penalty. If you postpone: The closer to age 62 you start receiving benefits, the smaller the penalty. Speak with a Federal Employment Attorney If you are a federal employee, early retirement can be a great option. Contact the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D. Wersing PLLC today to discuss whether early retirement may work for you and help you start planning.

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Federal Retirement

Can You Lose Federal Retirement Benefits for Disciplinary Actions?

Federal employees enjoy many competitive benefits with the government, including a generous retirement package. However, if you are a federal government employee facing possible disciplinary actions, then you may be understandably concerned about your federal retirement benefits. How do disciplinary actions affect your retirement benefits? The good news is that most disciplinary actions do not affect your federal retirement. However, there are a few exceptions. The ultimate answer depends on your specific situation and whether you have committed one or more specific federal crimes. That said, if you or a loved one are facing disciplinary actions, then there are other things at stake besides your retirement benefits. Take action immediately. Consult one of our dedicated federal employment attorneys at the Federal Employment Firm of Aaron D. Wersing, PLLC. Understanding the Basics of Federal Retirement Benefits Virtually all federal employees are eligible to receive retirement benefits under the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS). The FERS retirement package consists of three components. The first part is the Thrift Savings Plan, which is essentially a 401k program that the government administers. You can choose to contribute a portion of each paycheck to your TSP account, and your agency will make a matching contribution. Once you reach a certain age, you can draw on your TSP funds. The second retirement component is the FERS Basic Benefits Plan, a defined benefits plan that takes a part of your pay to guarantee you a monthly retirement pension. Social Security benefits make up the third and final portion of the plan. Your final retirement benefits depend on several factors, including your average pay, years of service, and whether you have a disability.  Can My Retirement Benefits Be Interrupted for Disciplinary Action? If you are terminated from a federal job, you are eligible to receive a lump-sum payment for your unused annual leave. Additionally, you may qualify for unemployment benefits in your home state. It’s important to note that most federal employees also have the right to appeal their termination. The Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) is a federal agency that allows employees to appeal disciplinary actions that they have received from their employer. The Board also occasionally resolves key questions regarding federal employment law, including issues revolving around federal retirement benefits and disciplinary actions. In Morrison v. Department of the Navy, the Board made clear that federal retirement benefits are “available upon separation from federal service, even when the separation is agency initiated.” Consequently, if you are facing removal from federal service for alleged misconduct, you do not need to resign to “save” your retirement benefits.  How Can Federal Employees Lose Their Retirement Benefits? It is very difficult for federal employees to lose their retirement benefits. 5 U.S.C. § 8312 states that you need to be convicted of committing one or more specific crimes for this to happen. Specifically, there are only about 20 crimes that can cause you to lose your federal retirement benefits, including: As you can see, all of these crimes are very serious and rarely occur. So as long as you do not receive a conviction for any of these crimes, your retirement benefits will be safe.  What About Federal Employees Outside the Federal Employee Retirement System? FERS covers all employees who began work with the Federal government after 1987. However, Federal employees who began their service before 1987 receive retirement benefits under a different plan, the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). Although CSRS offers different retirement benefits to eligible federal employees, you cannot lose those benefits because of disciplinary action except for the reasons stated above. Want to Learn More About How to Protect Your Federal Career? It’s reassuring to know that your federal retirement benefits are safe when you are facing disciplinary action. However, disciplinary actions are still very serious. They can leave a black mark on your career and reputation, lower your income, and jeopardize your job prospects. That said, if your employee is proposing disciplinary action against you, you need to consult a federal employment attorney right away.  Here at the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D. Wersing, we take pride in protecting federal employees. We care deeply about the outstanding men and women who serve the government every day. That means we’re committed to helping them defend their livelihoods and careers. If you are facing disciplinary action, we can work with you to build your case and protect your rights. We can also aggressively negotiate with your employer and take action against them for retaliating or discriminating against you.  Even if you’re not sure you have a case, come see us right away. Don’t wait. Call 833-833-3529. You can also send us a message online. 

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Federal Retirement

What Is a Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) for Federal Employees?

Federal retirement is one of the most important benefits of being a federal employee. Yet sometimes, understanding the technicalities around retirement can be tough. Today, we’ll talk about the federal Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). We’ll begin with a basic rundown of the TSP itself. We’ll then examine its role in providing you with a safe retirement and how you can maximize the benefits. If you have any more questions, contact one of the attorneys at the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D Wersing, PLLC.  What Is the TSP? At its core, the TSP is a retirement savings and investment plan with tax advantages. It was designed specifically for federal employees and members of the Armed Forces. It mirrors the structure and benefits of private sector 401K plans, and it offers both traditional and Roth options for contributions. The traditional option allows you to make pre-tax contributions. On the other hand, the Roth option taxes you upfront for your contributions but allows for tax-free growth and withdrawals.  As a participant, you can invest your contribution across a variety of funds, including those listed below. You can spread your investments throughout these funds or center all of your available assets in one fund. There are also Lifecycle funds with varying levels of risk that shift according to your estimated retirement year.  TSP’s Role in Your Retirement The TSP is a cornerstone of federal retirement planning, but it doesn’t work alone. Rather, it works in concert with the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) annuity and Social Security benefits to create a comprehensive retirement income. It fills the gap between what FERS and Social Security provide and the actual income needed to maintain your standard of living in retirement. In addition, it offers the low administrative costs and diverse investment options we previously mentioned. Together, the TSP, FERs annuity, and Social Security benefits all but guarantee a high quality of living for federal employees in their retirement years. Tips for Maximizing Your TSP Because it plays a key role in your financial security, you must take every step possible to maximize your TSP. Here are several key tips that will help you accomplish that goal: Finally, maximize catch-up contributions once you hit 50. There is a cap on how much federal employees can contribute to their TSPs. However, catch-up contributions allow older federal employees to contribute extra, helping them prepare for retirement.  Have More Questions About the Federal Thrift Savings Plan? We Can Help.  Understanding all aspects of federal retirement, including the Thrift Savings Plan, is essential for any federal employee looking to secure a financially stable future. We hope this article has answered your most pressing questions about the TSP and how it fits in your retirement future. The Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D Wersing, PLLC is here to assist you in charting your course toward retirement. We’ll apply our extensive legal experience to help you make the most of your retirement package. Whether you’re new to federal service or nearing retirement, we invite you to reach out. Let’s ensure your TSP is working as hard for you as you have worked for the federal government. Contact us today.

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | Federal Retirement

Minimum Retirement Age (MRA) for Federal Employees

The vast majority of federal employees look forward to enjoying the federal government’s generous retirement package. Yet there is no well-defined minimum retirement age for federal employees because there are several different kinds of early retirement. Thus, the minimum retirement age for federal employees hinges on the type of retirement. These forms of retirement depend, in turn, on things like the employee’s health status and years of federal service. The upside of this arrangement is that federal employees have significant flexibility when considering retirement options. However, there are downsides that you should consider as well.  We’ll unpack the various minimum retirement ages for federal employees in this article. We’ll also delve into what you can do to help minimize any negative consequences of early retirement. However, if you have more specific questions or want legal advice for your personal situation, give our firm a call today. What Is the Minimum Retirement Age for Federal Employees? The general minimum retirement age depends on which kind of federal retirement system you are serving under.  Minimum Retirement Age in the Civil Service Retirement System  If you are an older employee who joined the federal service before 1987, you may be under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). Employees under CSRS can technically retire at any time. However, the earliest you can retire under CSRS without reducing your retirement benefits is 55. This low age is achievable only if you have 30 years of service. CSRS employees with more than 20 years of service of a minimum retirement age of 60. CSRS employees with fewer years of service have a minimum retirement age of 62. There are some exceptions to this rule, however. We’ll explore those in a moment. Calculating Minimum Retirement Age Under the Federal Employee Retirement System If you began your federal career in or after 1987, you are under the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS). Calculating the retirement age depends on your year of birth. If you were born before 1948, then you can retire at 55. If you were born in 1970 or later, you can enjoy minimum retirement at 57. And if you were born between 1948 and 1970, your minimum retirement age will be between 55 and 2 months and 56 and 10 months. However, there’s an additional fact that bears mentioning. Under FERS, you may not receive your complete retirement annuity even after you reach your minimum retirement age. For instance, if you have fewer than 30 years of federal service when you reach your retirement age, the government will reduce your retirement benefits by 5% for every year that you are under 62. That means if you retire at age 60 with 28 years of federal, you will receive only 90% of your retirement annuity from the government. Similarly, if you retire at age 55, you can expect to receive just 65% of your retirement benefits.  Year of Birth Minimum Retirement Age (MRA) Before 1948 55 1948 55 and 2 months 1949 55 and 4 months 1950 55 and 6 months 1951 55 and 8 months 1952 55 and 10 months 1952-1964 56 1965 56 and 2 months 1966 56 and 4 months 1967 56 and 6 months 1968 56 and 8 months 1969 56 and 10 months Minimum Retirement Age (MRA) 57 According to the U.S. CBP, Here is a chart for Minimum Retirement Age (MRA) Exploring Alternative Retirement Plans Under both FERS and CSRS, employees can use several pathways to retire before the minimum retirement age. Specifically, federal employees can retire early through one of three situations: If you want to learn more about these options, it’s best to contact a federal employment attorney. Is There a Mandatory Retirement Age for Federal Employees? Generally, no. Mandatory retirement ages exist only for federal law enforcement officers and firefighters. Regardless of whether they are under FERS or CSRS, both law enforcement officers and firefighters have to retire at age 57, assuming they have 20 years of service. That said, an agency head can choose to allow a law enforcement officer to serve until 60 if the agency head finds that the employee’s service benefits the public interest.  Ready to learn more about achieving early retirement? Reach out to us today and let’s explore your questions together! It can be overwhelming to figure out your best options for retirement. And your agency’s human resources department may not have the answers you need. If you want accurate legal answers rather than vague responses and bureaucratic red tape, contact an experienced federal employment attorney. With the right legal counsel, you can get a clear picture of your retirement options and prepare your next steps. Our team at the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D. Wersing is 100% committed to serving federal employees and making their lives easier. Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for our clients to reach their retirement goals and enjoy life after the federal government.  We recognize many people think you need large amounts of cash on hand to even speak to an attorney. That couldn’t be further from the truth. We care about you and your story, set up your consultation today by calling us at 1-866-612-5956. You can also contact us online. 

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | Federal Retirement

Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) vs. Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS)

One of the greatest benefits of government work is generous retirement. The federal service includes two systems, the Civil Service Retirement System and the Federal Employees Retirement System. Because of the complexity of both systems, employees often have questions about the provisions of each one. We also commonly get asked, CSRS vs. FERS: Which is better? So to help address questions about these programs, we’ll cover the essential characteristics of both systems.  What’s the Relationship Between CSRS and FERS? Congress established the Civil Service Retirement System in 1920 with the passage of the Federal Employees’ Retirement Act. At the time, the government was looking for ways to attract and retain skilled workers, and retirement benefits were seen as an important part of that effort. Originally, federal employees had to contribute to their own retirement accounts, but the government also contributed to those accounts. On top of that, all CSRS retirement benefits used a unique formula that took into account an employee’s length of service and highest average salary. Over the years, the CSRS underwent a number of changes, including the addition of survivor benefits and disability benefits. However, by the 1980s, the system was facing a number of financial challenges. Many of the retirement benefits promised under the system had become unsustainable, and there were concerns about the long-term viability of the program. In response to these challenges, Congress passed the Federal Employees Retirement System Act of 1986, which established the FERS. Congress intended FERS to be more cost-effective and sustainable over the long term. FERS did not go into effect immediately. Instead, it only began to come into effect after 1984. Between the years of 1984 and 1987, employees could choose which retirement plan to join. All federal employees entering federal service after 1986 had to use FERS. Despite the creation of the FERS system, the CSRS continues to be a significant part of the federal retirement landscape. Many federal employees who were hired before 1984 still receive coverage under CSRS, so the system remains an important source of retirement benefits for millions of Americans. How Do the Federal CSRS vs. FERS Compare in Retirement Benefits? When comparing CSRS (Civil Service Retirement System) and FERS (Federal Employees Retirement System), it’s essential to note that CSRS offers the same retirement annuity for all retirees who retire at 55 or later, while FERS reduces retirement annuity for those retiring before the age of 62. Additionally, under CSRS, disability retirement amounts to 40% of the employee’s ‘high-three‘ salary. The retirement annuity is calculated by multiplying the high-three average by a percentage factor, which changes depending on the employee’s length of service. The percentage factor is 1.5% for the first five years of service, 1.75% for the next five years, and 2.0% for each year of service after 10 years. Under FERS, retirement pay is composed of three parts: a basic benefit, a Social Security benefit, and a Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) benefit. The basic benefit implements a similar formula to the CSRS’s “high-three” system. However, the percentage factor is lower, usually around 1%. The Social Security benefit is based on the employee’s earnings history and the age at which they begin receiving benefits. Finally, there is the TSP, which functions like a 401k or another investment plan. Both the employee and the government contribute to the TSP over time. Meanwhile, the employee can invest their TSP funds in one of several investment opportunities. When the employee retires, they can enjoy those contributions and any returns on those investments.  CSRS vs. FERS: Additional Differences and Similarities In several ways, the CSRS was a more generous retirement system than FERS. For instance, under CSRS, all retirees received cost-of-living adjustments, even if they retired young. FERS retirees usually receive a cost-of-living adjustment only if they retire at 62 or later.   However, there are some similarities. Both CSRS and FERS offer benefits such as health insurance, life insurance, and survivor benefits. However, FERS benefits are often less generous than CSRS retirement benefits. For instance, CSRS allows all retirees to receive the same retirement annuity as long as they retire at 55 or later. On the other hand, FERS reduces your retirement annuity for anyone retiring below the age of 62. Disability retirement under CSRS is 40% of the employee’s “high-three” salary. Under FERS, the disability retirement is 1.0% or 1.1% of your high-three salary for each year of federal service you have. Thus, an employee would receive less in disability retirement benefits under FERS unless they have over 40 years of federal service.  Still Curious About CSRS vs. FERS? We Can Help You with Any Federal Employment Need While you might have a general idea of federal employment retirement plans based on this article, it’s understandable if you have additional questions. To get accurate answers, it’s best to seek out a knowledgeable employment lawyer sooner rather than later. An adept federal employment attorney can explain which retirement system you are under and how that affects your financial future. If your agency has made some kind of mistake, an attorney can intervene on your behalf and help you file a claim. However, it’s crucial to find the right attorney to ensure the best chances of success. For experienced and reliable legal representation, look no further than the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D. Wersing, PLLC. Our team of legal professionals is experienced in all types of federal employment matters, including FERS and CSRS issues. We are committed to safeguarding your rights as a federal employee and ensuring you are rightfully compensated for your federal service. To schedule an initial consultation, call us today at 866-612-5956. You can also schedule an appointment with us online and read about our previous successes.

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Federal Retirement

Federal Employee Retirement Survivor Benefits Explained

It is well known that federal employment offers many valuable benefits. Chief among these benefits is the generous federal retirement package. The retirement program in the federal government is the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), which Congress created in 1986. In addition to retirement benefits, FERS features survivor death benefits in some cases. Specifically, FERS survivor benefits grant a certain percentage of a deceased federal employee’s annual benefit amount to a current or former spouse. This article will discuss the key details of federal retirement survivor benefits, but it is always a good idea to reach out to a qualified federal employment attorney for additional information.  How Many Types of FERS Survivor Benefits Are Available?  The recipient of a deceased federal employee can receive three kinds of benefits. The first type is the current spouse survivor annuity. As the name implies, this benefit is payable only to the person who was the current spouse of the federal employee at the time of the employee’s death. The second kind of benefit is an annuity for former spouses. The former spouse annuity can arise when the deceased employee voluntarily chose to establish it before their death. Alternatively, courts can also award annuities to former spouses through a divorce decree, provided it was granted after May 7, 1985. The third and final type of benefit is a one-time lump sum benefit. These three FERS survivor benefits are available only if the employee died while employed with the federal government.  How Much Can a Current or Former Spouse Receive in FERS Survivor Benefits? If you are a beneficiary of a deceased employee who retired under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), you may be eligible for survivor benefits, which amount to 50 percent of the employee’s unreduced annual benefit. The federal employee’s annual benefit will depend on the deceased employee’s time in government service, age, and pay level. The federal employee has a large role in deciding how much their survivor benefits are, even to the point of deciding the spouse receives no survivor benefit. They can also elect for the spouse to have a partially reduced annuity or a fully reduced annuity.  How Long Do FERS Survivor Benefits Last? Surviving spouse annuities (whether to former or current spouses) continue for the life of the spouse unless the spouse remarries before they reach age 55. There is an exception to this rule, however, if the spouse and employee were married for over 30 years. In that case, the spouse of the deceased employee will receive annuity payments regardless of whether they remarry or not.  Curious to Learn More About FERS Survivor Benefits? It is very difficult it is to lose a spouse. We understand that sorting out financial matters is probably the last thing you want to deal with when your spouse passes away. On top of that, the world of federal retirement survivor benefits is often difficult to navigate on your own. If your deceased spouse was a federal employee, we can help ensure that you obtain the benefits that they intended you to have.  Here at the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D. Wersing, PLLC, we are dedicated to assisting with all kinds of federal employment matters. We care about all of our clients, and we are passionate about ensuring that they obtain the compensation they deserve. We have many years of experience successfully helping our clients—as our client reviews show. Together, we can work with you to help maximize your FERS survivor benefits.  Many people wrongly believe that hiring an attorney will cost them a small fortune. However, we don’t want money problems to prevent people from reaching out and consulting us. Don’t lose out on obtaining the federal retirement benefits you rightfully deserve. Contact us today.

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