The Special Security Supplement can be a tad confusing to understand. One of those reasons is because it has so many names; Bridge to 62, FERS Special Supplement, Special Retirement Supplement, Annuity Special Supplement, and Special Supplement. However, all these names mean the same thing and mean the benefit is calculated the same. The Special Security Supplement (SSS) is a benefit that supplements your income between the time you retire from Federal service and when you become eligible for Social Security benefits at age 62.
You must be a FERS employee to qualify. CSRS employees don’t pay into Social Security so therefore, are not eligible. On top of that, you must have at least 30 years of service and meet your Minimum Retirement Age (MRA). Another way to be eligible is if you have 20 years of service and are at least 60 years of age.
This benefit is paid out by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), not the Social Security Administration (SSA). Drawing the SSS does not reduce the amount you would draw from Social Security, nor does it force you to draw Social Security at 62. The supplement ends at age 62 whether or not you apply for Social Security.
A ballpark calculation of this benefit is to take the latest estimate of your Social Security benefit (provided by the SSA) and multiply that number by your years of service. Then divide that number by 40. This should give you a reasonable estimate of what you can expect to receive with the SSS every month. A more precise calculation can be found here.
There is a Social Security earnings limit, $15,720 for 2016, and for every $2 in earned income above that limit, $1 will be deducted from your SSS. Note that this only applies to earned income such as wages, tips, etc. It does not include any pensions or investments. Also, the SSS does not include any COLA’s, Cost of Living Adjustments.
As with any rule, there are exceptions. Here are a few to be aware of:
- If you take an early retirement (before you reach MRA), you’re not eligible to receive the SSS until you reach your MRA.
- Retiring under the MRA+10 rule, disability, or deferred retirements disqualify you from receiving an SSS.
- Law Enforcement Officers and Firefighters may receive this supplement when they retire, regardless of whether they’re younger than their MRA. They are also not subject to the earnings limit until they reach their MRA.
The Special Security Supplement is a nice bonus to those who retire early and meet the requirements. If you want to learn more about this benefit, or see if you qualify for it, call Harris Federal Law Firm at 877-226-2723. You can also fill out this inquiry form for a FREE consultation.