Reg Jones Expert's View

While many of the misconceptions floating around the government are the result of mischievous rumors or personal desires that have mushroomed into "facts," others are the result of people who don’t know what they are talking about. It’s bad enough when it’s an employee who has it all wrong, but worse if it’s an official who should know better.

ADVERTISEMENT


One agency supervisor told his employees this whopper. He said that he had it on good authority that any FERS employee who accepted an early out under the Voluntary Early Retirement Act before he reached his minimum retirement age wouldn’t be eligible for the special retirement supplement when finally reached his MRA. He went on to say that OPM had overstepped its authority in permitting such employees to receive the SRS at that point in time because it was an exception that could only be granted by the Social Security Administration.

Now let me say this about that. Nonsense! While the SRS is based on the amount of Social Security benefit an employee has earned while covered by FERS, the authority for granting it is the responsibility of OPM. And the money used is paid out of the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund.

The Social Security Administration’s role is limited to two things. First, to provide OPM with the benefits data needed to compute a retiree’s SRS. And, second, to provide it with information about a retiree’s post-retirement earnings, which may require OPM to reduce or suspend that retiree’s SRS.

Like the Social Security benefit of anyone who hasn’t reached full retirement age, the SRS is subject to the annual Social Security earnings limit. For example, if you are retired and receiving the SRS, it would be reduced by $1 for every $2 you earned above the limit. In 2013, that limit is $15,160. Just to be clear, it means earnings from wages or self employment, not from your annuity, investments, or other kinds of income.