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Calculators Federal Ball Park Estimator

 

Overview

The Federal Ballpark E$timate® was developed by the Employee Benefit Research Institute® and its American Savings Education Council® (ASEC®) program . It is based upon the interactive version of the Ballpark E$timate® worksheet developed by EBRI and ASEC.

Ballpark E$timate® is a registered trademark of the Employee Benefit Research Institute®. All Rights Reserved. Used With Permission.

  • The Federal Ballpark E$timate (FBE) includes projected Federal annuity and Thrift Savings Plan benefits to help you quickly identify approximately how much you need to save to fund a comfortable retirement.
  • The Federal Ballpark E$timate can be used by employees covered by the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), CSRS-Offset, or the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) who plan to retire under the voluntary age and service rules. The current version does not perform estimates for employees planning to retire under the Minimum Retirement Age (MRA) + 10 rules, or those who are covered by special computation rules such as law enforcement officers and firefighters, or former Federal employees who may be entitled to a deferred retirement.
  • While FERS began on January 1, 1987, it is possible for a FERS employee to have an SCD (for retirement purposes) prior to that date. Examples of when a FERS employee may have an SCD prior to 1/1/1987 include:
    1. employees with prior CSRS service who elected FERS,
    2. employees who paid military deposits and
    3. Federal employees first hired during the "Interim period" between 1/1/1984 and 12/31/1986, can have SCD's earlier than 1987.

    If you are in one of these groups, enter the correct SCD and follow the directions in the "Warning" message. This message is simply to alert the user to check the SCD. If the SCD is correct, select the Submit button again and it will take you to the next Step.

  • The Federal Ballpark E$timate is a retirement savings planning tool. It is not an annuity estimate. If you are within 3 years of your planned retirement date you should contact your human resource (HR) office for an annuity estimate. It's very important to contact your HR office well in advance of your retirement for several reasons, including, ensuring that all your service is accounted for and creditable towards retirement and that you are in the correct retirement system; i.e., CSRS, CSRS Offset, or FERS. The Federal Ballpark E$timate can be used as a guideline for your retirement needs. There are other things to consider when getting close to retirement for which your HR office is the place to discuss all of your options. If you don't know who your agency HR office is or have had a difficult time contacting that office, you may contact the lead agency benefits officer at your employing agency.
  • Yes! The FBE is a long term planning tool which can be very beneficial to persons with only a couple of years of Federal service. This is because the FBE will get you thinking about how the way you save can be beneficial to you down the road to retirement. It's never too early!
  • Yes, we have collected all assumptions used in the FBE and provide them to you via this link: Assumptions used in FBE.
  • Email questions or comments to benefits@opm.gov. This link will open your default email program in a new window.

Assumptions

This is a consolidation of the additional information boxes (PopUp boxes) available in the Federal Ballpark E$timate and the assumptions used in the calculations.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

Annuity Interest Rate for TSP and non-TSP

A Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) annuity provides income in the form of monthly payments for as long as you - and your joint annuitant, if you elect an annuity with survivor benefits - are alive. If you name a joint annuitant, monthly payments are made to you while you and your joint annuitant are both alive; when either of you dies, monthly payments are made to the survivor for the rest of his or her life. The factors that affect the amount of the monthly payments include:

  • The annuity option you choose
  • Your age when your annuity is purchased (and the age of your spouse or other joint annuitant)
  • The balance in the TSP account used to purchase your annuity
  • The "interest rate index" when your annuity is purchased

For purposes of the Federal Ballpark E$timate, we will provide an estimated annuity based on Single Life, increasing (inflation protection). The TSP annuity rates are used for annuitization of both TSP balances and non-TSP savings. For additional information on how TSP savings are annuitized, visit the TSP website.

Although the TSP annuity interest rate index changes monthly, for purposes of the Federal Ballpark E$timate, we are using the default factor of 3.5% for both the TSP and non-TSP savings calculations. This is an average over the past 48 months of data. If you are close to retirement, you may want to use the rate represented in the current month or any rate that you choose. Refer to TSP’s website for the Historical Annuity Rate Index factors.

The non-TSP savings amount that you entered may include savings from different sources such as your savings account(s), non-TSP mutual funds, and non-TSP retirement funds (private sector 401-Ks, Individual Retirement Accounts, etc.).

Catch-up Contributions

"Catch-up contributions" are supplemental tax-deferred employee contributions that employees age 50 or older can make to the Thrift Saving Plan (TSP) beyond the maximum amount they can contribute through regular contributions. To be eligible to make catch-up contributions, you must be: age 50 or older during the calendar year in which the catch-up contributions are made and contributing an amount that will cause you to reach the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) elective deferral limit ($17,000 in 2012) by the end of the calendar year. The maximum "catch-up contribution" in 2012 is $5,500.

If you entered a valid catch-up contribution amount, this amount will be included in the overall TSP balance for purposes of computing the estimated TSP annuity.

Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS)
Civil Service Retirement System. Employees under CSRS were generally first hired prior to 1984. They do not have social security coverage. Indicated on your SF 50 by a 1 in box 30 and the notation CSRS.
CSRS-Offset
Employees are covered by CSRS and have social security coverage because of a break in CSRS only coverage greater than 1 year. Indicated on your SF 50 (Notification of Personnel Action) by a C in box 30 and the notation FICA and CSRS (Partial).
CSRS Offset and Age 62
The result is taking the CSRS benefit amount using current dollars, minus the CSRS Offset amount, to arrive at the estimated total annual defined benefit amount at age 62 in current dollars.
Current Dollars / Today's Dollars
Estimated benefit amount, without future increases in prices or earnings. We use the inflation rate for converting to current year dollars.
Current Wage
Although retirement annuity is based on a person's high 3-year average salary, for purposes of the Federal Ballpark E$timate, enter your current annual wage. Most employees know what they are currently making rather than what their average salary might be.

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FERS Deposits
Non deduction service performed prior to January 1, 1989 requires a deposit to be creditable for the Basic Benefit portion of FERS and toward the retirement SCD. Non deduction service performed after December 31, 1988 is not creditable toward the Basic Benefit portion of FERS and is not to be included for the retirement SCD. Contact your human resources office for additional information.
Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS)
The Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) was established by Public Law 99-335 in Chapter 84 of title 5, U.S. Code and effective January 1, 1987. Most new Federal employees hired after December 31, 1983 are automatically covered by FERS. Certain other Federal employees not covered by FERS have the option to transfer into the plan. Individuals covered under FERS pay Social Security taxes and FERS basic benefit deductions. FERS coverage is documented on the SF 50 in box 30 with codes K, L, M, or N.
Final Wage
Using the Current Annual Wage entered in Step 1, we take that figure and apply the nominal wage growth percentage (in Step 2) to come up with the estimated Final Wage at retirement.
Future (Inflated) Dollars
Estimated benefit amount, adjusted for assumed inflation.
Inflation Rate

What you expect for the average long-term inflation rate. A common measure of inflation in the U.S. is the Consumer Price Index (CPI) which has a long-term average change of 2.5 percent annually, from 2000 to 2010. The long term inflation rate used by the Civil Service Retirement Fund Board of Actuaries is 3.0%.

The Federal Ballpark E$timate uses 3.0% as a default rate, but will allow you to choose any rate between 0% and 15. You should choose assumptions -- or range of assumptions -- that are right for you based on your particular circumstances.

You should choose assumptions--or range of assumptions--that are right for you based on your particular circumstances.

Life Expectancy

Actuarial data is used to calculate life expectancy based on age, gender, and other factors. Life expectancy data is based on group means, not on individual expectations. An accident or disease may significantly shorten an individual's life as compared to the group mean.

On the other hand, a healthy lifestyle, good luck, and genetic factors may mean that an individual lives well beyond the group mean death age. Despite the fates of particular people, means and averages provide useful information for long-term planning.

For more information on current actuarial estimates of life expectancy, visit the CDC website.

Non-TSP Savings

Any personal savings you have outside of the Thrift Savings Plan are non-TSP savings. Enter the current balance of your non-TSP savings. The non-TSP savings amount that you enter may include savings from different sources such as your savings account(s), non-TSP mutual funds, and non-TSP retirement funds (private sector 401-Ks, Individual Retirement Accounts, etc.). This value will be used to project future savings rates and your estimated final non-TSP savings at retirement. The summary result will show in current dollars and future (inflated) dollars.

Also, if you know of any additional non-TSP money you may be saving annually, enter this amount in the Additional Annual Savings box.

Post-Retirement Income

Any income you make at a job after retirement should be counted in this category. (Enter the amount of income per year as well as the number of years you plan to work after retirement.)

lthough working is not a traditional part of the image of retirement, more and more retirees are seeking jobs after retiring. Retirees are increasingly energetic, healthy, and active. They can look forward to years of life beyond retirement. Many retirees now use post-retirement employment as a way to stay mentally active and keep connected to their communities, not just as a source of extra income.

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Rate of Return

The TSP C-Fund which approximates the S&P 500, has had an average annual 9.55 percent gain between 1988 and 2010; the TSP F-Fund, a broad index representing the U.S. bond market, has had an average annual 7.09 percent from1988 to 2010; and the G-fund, long term U.S. Treasury notes, has had an average annual of 5.93 percent gain from 1987 to 2010.

To learn more about the TSP Summary of Returns, visit the TSP website.

The long term rate of investment return used by the Civil Service Retirement Fund Board of Actuaries is 5.75%. We set the default rate for before retirement at 5.75% and rate of return after retirement at 4.0% with a valid range of 0% to 20% for each. You should choose assumptions--or range of assumptions--that are right for you based on your particular circumstances.

Replacement Rate Calculation

The amount of money from your retirement benefits (e.g. CSRS, FERS, Social Security), annuities from TSP and other savings, and any post-retirement earnings you entered are summed over the expected years in retirement. The amount of money you would have made (with projected raises) if you continued to work rather than retire is also summed up over the same period of time. The ratio of the total projected retirement benefits divided by the total projected earnings if you continued to work is the replacement rate.

If the calculated replacement rate is less than the desired replacement rate, the TSP contribution rate is increased bit by bit (0.25% of salary) until the calculation comes out to the replacement rate goal or it hits the tax deferral limit (currently $17,000).

If that isn't enough money, the Federal Ballpark E$timate does the same with the non-TSP savings until the combined total is enough to hit your replacement rate goal, or an absolute limit of 50% of salary is reached.

For purposes of the Federal Ballpark E$timate, we calculate an average lifetime replacement rate. What this means is that the FBE will take the number of years you expect to live in retirement and average the replacement rate during that time. The Federal Ballpark E$timate uses 70% as a default rate, but will allow you to choose any rate between 20% and 120%.

Replacement Rate Desired

The replacement rate is the portion of your pre-retirement income that will be replaced by your retirement income. Many experts agree that a replacement rate of 75 to 85% will provide adequate retirement income.

When determining your goal, you need to think about the type of lifestyle you would like in retirement. Do you want the cruise-of-the-month retirement or are you planning to spend your time in the garden? You may want to consider using a higher percentage of your current gross income if:

  • you are fairly young and/or your prime earning years are ahead of you
  • you do not anticipate owning your home outright when you retire
  • you have a family history of very long life or medical problems
  • you would like a retirement lifestyle that is more than comfortable

If you make $100,000 a year now, and select a Replacement Rate of 70%, your target goal for your combined retirement income stream would be $70,000 per year in today's dollars. Due to the effects of inflation, this number would actually be higher when you retire.

For purposes of the Federal Ballpark E$timate, we calculate an average lifetime replacement rate. What this means is that the FBE will take the number of years you expect to live in retirement and average the replacement rate during that time. The Federal Ballpark E$timate uses 70% as a default rate, but will allow you to choose any rate between 20% and 120%.

Screen Reader Compatible Results
Users who are visually disabled and using older screen readers should use this link to get a compatible version of the results.
Service
Based on the Service Computation Date and the Retirement Age you entered, this is the number of years and full months of service used to compute the estimated benefit amounts. (Note that the Retirement Age is assumed to be your birthday.)
Service Computation Date (SCD) Retirement
You have several SCDs. For example, your SCD Leave appears on every SF 50 (Notification of Personnel Action) in Block 31. Its service that is creditable for leave accrual purposes, such as advancing to the next leave category. Your SCD Retirement reflects service that is creditable toward your eligibility to retire. Generally, SCD Leave and SCD Retirement are the same unless you are retired military. If you are a military retiree, consult with your human resource (HR) office to determine your SCD Retirement. Your estimate will use the assumption that you will make a deposit to receive credit for any military service. If you are not retired military, use the SCD from Block 31 on a recent SF 50.
Social Security Benefit
Use the Social Security Benefit calculator to calculate this input. If you are CSRS Offset, social security benefits may be subject to CSRS Offset at age 62. If you are under the CSRS retirement plan (not CSRS Offset) it’s possible that you may have a social security benefit if you had worked at least 40 credits prior to your CSRS service. This benefit amount should be on your Social Security Statement.

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Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)

The TSP is a retirement savings plan for civilians who are employed by the United States Government and members of the uniformed services. The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment, administers the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). The Ballpark Savings E$timate will accept a dollar amount up to the tax deferral limit of $17,000, or, a percentage of your wages for your TSP contribution (but that percentage cannot be more than the IRS's allowable maximum of $17,000).

For more information on the TSP, see the TSP website.

Wage Growth Assumption

Wage growth is your estimate of the rate that salaries will increase over time.

The long term rate of General Schedule salary increases used by the Civil Service Retirement Fund Board of Actuaries is 3.75%. The Ballpark Estimate uses 3.75% as a default rate, but will allow you to choose any rate between 0% and 10%.

You should choose assumptions--or range of assumptions--that are right for you based on your particular circumstances.

Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP)

The "windfall elimination provision" affects how the amount of your retirement or disability benefits is calculated if you receive a pension from work where Social Security taxes were not taken out of your pay. A modified formula is used to calculate your benefit amount, resulting in a lower Social Security benefit.

The reduction in your Social Security benefit cannot be more than one-half of that part of your pension based on your earnings after 1956 from which Social Security taxes were not deducted. The Federal Ballpark E$timate uses the maximum windfall elimination provision to estimate your social security benefits. This will give you a conservative estimate. You can learn more about the windfall elimination provision at the Social Security Administration website.

Years of CSRS Coverage - Instruction

Employees who elect to transfer from CSRS coverage to FERS coverage after completing 5 or more years of creditable civilian service as of the effective date of transfer (excluding service covered by both CSRS and social security deductions) will have a CSRS annuity component in their FERS benefit. If you do not know if this applies to you, contact your human resource office.

For purposes of the Federal Ballpark E$timate, enter a number reflecting full years. It does not accept partial years.

If you are a CSRS-Offset employee, enter the number of years of "straight" CSRS coverage you worked (do not include the number of years as CSRS-Offset time which includes social security coverage). For example, say you worked 7 years under CSRS covered service, then you left service, and after a break of more than 365 days you returned to work for the Federal government. You are most likely a CSRS-Offset employee with 7 years of CSRS covered service. Enter 7 in the Years of CSRS Coverage block.

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