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2013 COLA Update

Federal retirees in the CSRS and FERS retirement systems will receive a COLA increase of 1.5% percent in 2014. Complete COLA information is available on this site. Active fedeal employee's pay will increase 1% in 2014. 

Retiree JOB Opportunities

Many job opportunities are available for federal retirees − and those planning to retire soon − to earn additional income in retirement. Our Jobs Board has updated listings targeted to federal retirees. Many companies seek out retired federal employees due to their government experience and contacts. You can also explore high paying opportunities for those that hold current Security Clearances.  

   

 

CSRS ANNUITY CALCULATIONS

 
 

Federal Employee's CSRS & FERS Federal Civil Service Retirement
& Financial Planning Resources

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CSRS Annuity Menu

Retirement Planning Assistance 

 

Annuity Basics

Your basic annuity is computed based on your length of service (which includes unused sick leave if you retire on an immediate annuity) and "high-3" average pay. The high-3 average pay includes locality pay and annual premiums for standby duty and availability if applicable. Other pay such as differentials, overtime, allowances and others are not included.

To determine your length of service for computation, add all your periods of creditable service, and the period represented by your unused sick leave, then eliminate from the total any fractional part of a month. Your "high-3" average pay is the highest average basic pay you earned during any 3 consecutive years of service. Generally, your basic annuity cannot be more than 80 percent of your "high-3" average pay, unless the amount over 80 percent is due to crediting your unused sick leave.


Your yearly basic annuity is computed by adding:

  1. 1 1/2 percent of your "high-3" average pay times service up to 5 years;
  2. 1 3/4 percent of your "high-3" pay times years of service over 5 and up to 10; and
  3. 2 percent of your "high-3" pay times years of service over 10.

Your basic annuity will be reduced if:

  1. you retire before age 55 (unless you retire for disability or under the special provisions for law enforcement officers, air traffic controllers, and firefighters);
  2. you didn't make a deposit for service performed prior to October 1, 1982, during which no deductions were taken from your pay (non-deduction service after that date is not used in the computation of benefits if the deposit is not paid);
  3. you didn't make a redeposit of a refund for a period of service that ended before October 1, 1990; or (d) you provide for a survivor annuitant.

If you are married, your annuity will be reduced automatically to provide the maximum survivor annuity for your spouse, unless you and your spouse jointly agree to provide a lesser amount or none at all. Your spouse's survivor annuity would be 55 percent of your basic annuity or any lesser amount you and your spouse agree to. Your annuity would be reduced by 2 1/2 percent of the first $3,600 in basic annuity and 10 percent of the remainder of your basic annuity. Review the information on electing a survivor's annuity and issues that you should consider before electing a reduced spousal annuity.

Your annuity is increased periodically by cost-of-living increases that occur after you retire. Your initial cost-of-living increase will be prorated based on how long you have been retired when that cost-of-living increase is granted.

 

Redeposit of CSRS contributions

 

For those who left federal service earlier in their career, cashed out their retirement account, and then returned your time still count towards years in service but your annuity will be reduced if you don't redeposit what you withdrew earlier in your career.

To estimate the interest charges for deposits covering employment on or after 10/1/1982 and redeposit of refunds applied for on or after that date, are subject to an interest rate of 3 percent per year through December 31, 1984. After that date, annual interest is based on market rates.

To redeposit your contributions with interest you will need to complete a SF 2803 form. Download this form and complete Part A. Your agency must complete Part B using your official personnel (OPF) data. Print out the form and the instructions will explain what the interest charges are and how they are calculated.

You can explore all of your retirement options and benefits on this site and I suggest signing up for our free monthly retirement planning email newsletter. In additional to redepositing this amount visit our FAQ page for a list of what you need to do starting one year before you leave and a summary of what to expect from OPM the first three months after you leave. You will also find helpful articles on how to emotionally, physically, and financially prepare for retirement.

 

Part-time Service Computations

 

Previously, individuals retiring under CSRS who were employed on a part-time basis during their final three years of service have had their annuities computed using two different high-three average salaries.  The annuity calculation for service performed on or after April 7, 1986, utilizes what is referred to as a “deemed high-three” average salary which is computed using the full-time equivalent rates of pay for the high-three period.   The annuity calculation for service performed before April 7, 1986, utilizes a high-three average salary based upon the highest rates of pay actually received by the individual, which may be for a period prior to the final three years of service. In other words, under law prior to this amendment, one high-three average salary was based on the pay actually received and the other based on pay the individual would have received assuming they worked full-time (the deemed high-three).
 
Section 1903 provides that the “deemed high-three” average salary will be utilized for all service, regardless of when performed.  Section 1903 does not change the other provisions applicable to calculation of annuities involving part-time service.  The amendment applies only to annuities based on a separation from service occurring on or after October 28, 2009.

CSRS Projected Annuity Calculator

 

Everyone planning their retirement needs to know how much they will have to live on in retirement and how much their spouse’s survivor benefit will be. This comprehensive spreadsheet accuratley project the CSRS annuity and survivor benefit for the next 40 years. This spreadsheet accurately determines your projected monthly and annual annuity, based on a selected growth rate, with and without survivor benefit for forty years and your projected survivor’s annual and monthly annuity.

The spreadsheet also provides a list of annual COLAs going back to 1975 and provides the average 2, 5, 10 and 38 year COLA growth to give you an idea of what to use in your estimate. When I ran my numbers back in 2004 I used 2.5% and that came very close to the actual grow rate for that period. The most recent 10 year average that includes the two years that we didn’t receive an increase was 2.6% for those in the CSRS program. The average over the past 38 years is 4.1%. During the past 38 year period we had COLAs ranging from as low as 0% for two years to as high as 14.3% in 1980!  

You can download and use the Projected Annuity Calculator to project your annuity growth for you and your spouse. This spreadsheet is tailored to CSRS employees that elect full survivor’s benefits however with a few minor modifications and manual calculations FERS employees will also be able to use the spreadsheet. For FERS employees the projected annuity without survivor benefit will be the same; just enter your annuity estimate, enter your age, year of retirement, what you consider to be a realistic growth rate, and the spreadsheet will calculate your annuity for the next 40 years! The column reserved for your projected annuity with survivor benefits will be slightly lower since the maximum spousal benefit is 50% for FERS, not the 55% for CSRS. Also, the full FERS annuity will cost the retiree a little more because FERS employees pay 10% of their annuity for a full survivor’s benefit where CSRS pay just under 10%. FERS COLAs are also weighted and adjusted down when the COLA exceeds 2%.

CSRS Tax Considerations

Because the CSRS plan is only offered to government employees (not the general public) it is an employer-sponsored plan, unlike Social Security and IRAs.  This topic general comes up with IRA use and therefore the best information I found on the topic is on page 13 of: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p590.pdf  

Tax information about the federal retirement programs is available at: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p721.pdf . You should seek the guidance of a professional tax preparation specialist or the IRS for specific tax information. 

 

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