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Frequently Asked Questions Retirement

Current Employees

  • Look at any of your Standard Form 50s (Notifications of Personnel Actions). There's a block that shows your retirement plan. It's Block 30 on all current SF-50s. You'll see a code followed by an acronym that represents your retirement plan. Most Federal employees are in one of four possible retirement plans. They are: Retirement Plan Commonly Called SF-50 Civil Service Retirement System CSRS Code 1 or 6 Civil Service Retirement System and Social Security CSRS Offset Code C or E Social Security Only FICA Code 2 Federal Employees Retirement System FERS Code K, L, M, or N "FICA" indicates Social Security coverage on your SF-50. For example, your retirement coverage as it appears on the SF-50 may be CSRS and FICA instead of CSRS Offset or FERS and FICA instead of FERS. If your agency does not use Standard Form 50s, you can find your retirement plan on the form it uses to notify you of personnel actions.
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  • Which retirement plan you belong in depends upon the type of appointment you have and your work history. The rules can be complicated. That's why some employees are in the wrong plan. Below are some of the common errors, broken down by retirement plan. Find your retirement plan, and see if you fit any of the situations listed. If you do, you may be in the wrong plan. But, remember there are exceptions to the general rules. You may be in the right retirement plan because you fall under one of the exceptions (like the one shown under CSRS Offset). Contact your Human Resources office. They can help you. If your retirement plan is: Then you may be in the wrong plan if you: CSRS Worked for the Government before 1984, but not on a permanent basis; or Left Federal employment for more than a year at any time after 1983; or Have a temporary appointment limited to a year or less, a term appointment, or an emergency indefinite appointment; orHave no Federal civilian employment before 1984; or Do not have a career or career conditional appointment and you work on an intermittent basis. (See the work schedule block on your SF-50.) CSRS Offset Have a temporary appointment limited to a year or less, a term appointment, or an emergency indefinite appointment; orHave no Federal civilian employment before 1984; or Do not have a career or career conditional appointment and you work on an intermittent basis. (See the work schedule block on your SF-50.); or Did not work for the Government for a total of 5 years before 1987 (don't count your military service). Exception: If you worked under CSRS, left the Government, and your agency placed you in CSRS Offset on your return, your CSRS Offset coverage is probably correct if you had 5 years Government service when you left.) FERS Have a temporary appointment limited to a year or less; Do not have a career or career conditional appointment and you work on an intermittent basis; or Have worked for the Government for at least 5 years before 1987 (not including military service) unless you elected to transfer to FERS during a FERS Open Seasons or after a break in service.
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  • Generally, CSRS Offset retirement coverage occurs when an employee who had previously been covered under CSRS has a break in service of over 365 days. When the individual returns to a permanent position they will be covered under CSRS Offset and will contribute to both CSRS and to FICA (Social Security). In other words, CSRS Offset coverage applies to individuals who are simultaneously covered by CSRS and by Social Security.
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  • The 5-year test is used to determine the proper retirement coverage of individuals who are being hired, transferred, or converted to a permanent position in the Federal service. It applies to all retirement coverage determinations made after January 1, 1987. If the 5-year test is met, an individual is not automatically covered by FERS. This means the individual would retain CSRS or CSRS Offset retirement coverage depending on the length of separation.   The 5-year test is met if an individual had 5 years of civilian service (don't count any military service) as of December 31, 1986. All Federal service is creditable for this purpose, regardless of the nature of the appointment (i.e., career, non-career, and whether or not retirement contributions were deducted from pay or a refund of retirement contributions was received). The 5-year test also is met if an employee separated after January 1, 1987, had 5 years of service, and had at least one appointment subject to retirement coverage.
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  • Then you are probably in the right retirement plan. Remember that most employees are in the right retirement plan. If you're still not sure, ask your Human Resources office to review your employment records to make sure you are in the right retirement plan.
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  • Many employees do not actually work near their Human Resources office. If you don't know who to contact, find the benefits counselor for your agency at www.apps.opm.gov/abo. Your agency's benefits counselor can help you find the office in your agency that has your employment records and can review your retirement coverage. Please note that neither OPM or the FERCCA Hotline has your employment history and won't be able to tell you if you are in the right retirement plan.
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  • No. Term appointments are excluded from CSRS or CSRS Offset retirement coverage. Individuals who receive a term appointment and who are not automatically covered by FERS are covered by FICA (Social Security) with the option to elect FERS coverage. Since you previously had over 15 years of CSRS service, you are not automatically covered under FERS. You coverage should be FICA. If you don't elect FERS coverage, and then later convert to an appointment not excluded from CSRS (a career appointment, for example), you would then be covered under CSRS or CSRS Offset depending on when you last worked as a CSRS employee.
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  • If you currently work for the Federal Government, you should contact your Human Resources office for help. Your agency has all of your employment records and can verify whether your retirement coverage is correct. Please don't contact OPM as we normally don't receive your employment records until you separate from the Government. If you are a separated employee, retiree, or survivor of an employee who was in the wrong retirement plan, contact OPM on 1-888-767-6738.
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  • No. Once an employee is correctly placed under FERS (except those employees who were erroneously put in CSRS/Offset and were already corrected to FERS), the individual will always have FERS coverage in the future, unless excluded from retirement coverage because of the nature of the appointment.
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  • Complete the retirement application for the plan you're in now. Make your decisions about survivor benefits, life insurance, paying a deposit, and others based on your current retirement coverage. Your agency will flag your retirement package to alert OPM that you fall under FERCCA. You will receive detailed information about your retirement options. If you decide to change retirement plans, we will ask you to complete a new application for retirement and make all new elections.
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