If you are a FERS employee and you retire on an immediate, unreduced annuity before reaching age 62, you will not only receive your basic annuity but an additional payment that represents the amount of Social Security benefit you earned while a FERS employee. It’s called the special retirement supplement (SRS).
An immediate, unreduced annuity is payable to any FERS employee who retires:
• at age 60 with 20 years of service,
• at his minimum retirement age (MRA—currently 56) with 30 years of service,
• at his MRA, if involuntarily retiring, for example during a RIF, or
• at his MRA, if retiring under the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA)
Note: Employees who retire under the MRA+10 provision aren’t eligible for the SRS. Nor are deferred retirees or disability retirees.
The amount of the SRS is determined using a complicated formula that relies on data that isn’t available to you. A ballpark formula: multiply your Social Security benefit by your total years of FERS service then divide by 40.
There are three key things you need to know about the SRS: 1) It’s a fixed amount that’s established on the day you retire; 2) it isn’t increased by any cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs); and, 3) it ends when you reach age 62 and become eligible for a Social Security benefit.
The money used to pay the SRS doesn’t come from the Social Security Administration. Instead it comes from the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund. That’s why it’s based solely on your actual FERS service. However, like a Social Security benefit, the SRS is subject to an annual earnings limit, above which the benefit is reduced.
There is an exception to that earnings limit rule: If you were employed under the special provision for law enforcement officers, firefighters and air traffic controllers and you retired before your minimum retirement age, you can earn as much as you want without your SRS being reduced. However, once you reach your MRA, you’ll be subject to the earnings limit just like any other FERS retiree.
The SRS is subject to the annual earnings limit, just like your Social Security benefit. If you have earnings from wages or self employment that exceed the limit, your SRS will be reduced by $1 for every $2 that exceed that limit. In 2020 that limit is $18,240.