Planning for Retirement in Five Years by Ron Raffino

Tips from Ron Raffino for Those Planning on Retiring in Five Years

retirement benefitsYou must have heard that it’s never too late to start planning, but have you heard it’s never too early to start planning? In fact, the earlier you start your retirement planning, the better it will be for you. Retirement planning is no joke as a lot of factors need to be considered carefully. We will advise you take some assistance from your local personnel service center. Since they have your employment records, they are in a position to provide you with personalized assistance.
We all know and understand that health and life insurance are of top most priorities but still, we see a lot of retired personnel without proper coverage. This usually happens because of lack of awareness and lack of knowledge. It must be noted here that in order to carry the coverage forward, one must be covered continuously for five years before retirement.

Help from your employer
You can get all the information you need on the retirement process from your agency. It should be noted here that the agency only provides you with the information. In order to interpret it and get advice on what to do, you should contact your local personnel service center. As they have your employment records, they are in a better position to advise you on such matters.

When to start planning
This is an important question. We hear a lot of employees asking this question – when should I start planning. Well, to be honest, it’s better to start as early as possible. But just in case if you haven’t done it then make sure you start planning at least five years before retirement. We advise you to start planning five years prior to your retirement as you must have insurance coverage for five years immediately before retirement to keep it after retirement.

Keeping your health insurance benefits after you retire
Pay close attention to this part. Following are points that specify the conditions for being eligible to continue your health insurance coverage.

  • You must be covered at the time of retirement.
  • Your coverage must not fall under the category of converted individual policies.
  • The date of issuance of the first annuity check must not be later than 30 days after the retirement.
  • Prior to 5 years of the date of retirement, you must have continuous coverage.

You can also avail the benefits of optional life insurance if at the time of retirement you are eligible to continue your basic coverage, and again if you were continuously covered for a period of 5 years before your retirement date.

Waiver of the requirement for continuing life insurance coverage into retirement

Currently, there is no such provision that allows a retirement employee to bypass the stipulated conditions for continuing life insurance coverage. However, if you do find yourself in such a situation then you always have the chance to migrate to an individual policy.

Review your service history

As someone who is about to retire, it’s always a good idea to review your service history. You can find all the information in the Official Personnel Folder (OPF). The purpose of such a review is to make sure that all your service records are valid and verified. If you encounter a situation where some of the records are missing then you must report it to your employer. Your employer can help you to find the missing records and document them properly. Some employees are required to make retirement contributions. You can enquire about the consequences of payment or nonpayment of such contributions from your employer.

A complication can arise if you haven’t made payment for receiving the military credits (only if you have served in military). Such payments are to be made before you retire. You can also get advice from the Personnel Officer on waving the military retired pay.

Check your eligibility for Social Security benefits

In order to check for your eligibility to receive social security benefits, you need to visit your local Social Security Office. After you fill and submit the form SSA-7004-PC, you will be provided with a benefit estimate statement. This statement will contain all the information your future eligibility for Social Security benefits and estimates of these benefits at specified dates.

Government Pension Offset

In some cases, it has happened that the social security benefits of a retiring employee’s spouse saw some kind of offset. This mostly happens when the pension of the retired employees is not covered by social security. In such cases, there is no offset on the social security benefits of the retired employee; it happens only to the social security benefits of the retired employee’s spouse. This offset amounts to two third of the federal pension.

Such an offset does not apply universally. There are some exceptions. For example, those employees who are covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) Offset, and those who voluntarily took transfers to the FERS before January 1988, are exempted from the Government Pension Offset.

Windfall Elimination Provision

Windfall Elimination Provision reduces the Primary Insurance Amount (PIA) of a person’s Retirement Insurance Benefits (RIB) or Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) when that person is eligible or entitled to a pension based on a job which did not contribute to the Social Security Trust Fund. While in effect, it also affects the benefits of others claiming on the same social security record.

The Windfall Elimination Provision does not apply if:

The WEP is applied to certain beneficiaries who are receiving RIB or DIB and who also:

  • The beneficiary becomes entitled to the benefits after 1985
  • The beneficiary also first becomes eligible, after 1985, for a pension based in any way upon earnings from employment that was not covered by social security
  • The beneficiary’s entitlement to this pension has not yet ended (even if not yet claimed)
  • The beneficiary is still alive
  • The beneficiary has not obtained 30 Years of Coverage (YOCs) at the age of 62 years.

Estimating the amount of the Windfall Elimination Provision reduction

At your request, using the form SSA-7004, the Social Security Administration will send you a Personal Earnings and Benefits Statement (PEBES) that will list your earnings from employment covered by Social Security and provide a Social Security benefit estimate assuming retirement at alternative ages, 62, 65, and 70. You should contact your local Social Security office (external link) to determine the effect of the Government Pension Offset and the Windfall Elimination Provision on your Social Security benefits.

Effects on benefits

When the WEP applies, it is used in determining all benefits on the record, both for the primary beneficiary and any auxiliaries. This includes an effect upon the maximum total benefits paid on the record as well. Since the WEP does not apply after the death of the primary beneficiary, it is never used for survivors.

 

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