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Unless you choose FERS, there is no additional cost to you. If you choose FERS, you will only incur additional costs if you decide to make additional TSP contributions (known as make-up contributions). These are contributions that you could have made if you had been correctly covered by FERS. Of course, you're the one who chooses how much additional contributions you want to make.
FERS stands for the Federal Employees Retirement System. FERS became effective in 1987 and most new Federal civilian employees hired after 1983 are automatically covered by FERS. FERS is a three-tiered retirement plan. The three components are the:
Most FERS employees pay 0.8% of basic pay for FERS basic benefits. The agency contributes 10.7% or more to FERS. The FERS basic benefit provides retirement, disability, and survivor benefits and may be reduced for early retirement or to provide survivor protection.
The FERS basic benefit is computed based on your length of service and the highest average basic pay you earned during any 3 consecutive years of service (know as the "high-3" average pay). Generally, the FERS basic benefit is 1% of your high-3 average pay times your years of creditable service.
FERS employees can currently contribute up to 11% of basic pay to the Thrift Savings Plan. An automatic Government contribution adds 1% of basic pay to every FERS employee's TSP account. The Government adds up to another 4% of basic pay, depending on how much the employee chooses to contribute.
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:
Civil Service Retirement System
Code 1 or 6
Civil Service Retirement System and Social Security
Code C or E
Social Security Only
Federal Employees Retirement System
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.
FERCCA is the Federal Erroneous Retirement Coverage Corrections Act. It is a law that addresses the long-term harm to retirement planning created when employees are put in the wrong retirement plan.
It depends on what your retirement coverage error was and how long you were in the wrong retirement plan. FERCCA may provide you one or all of the following:
We believe that the number of employees in the wrong retirement plan is very small. Agencies have discovered and corrected many retirement coverage errors. However, we are certain some employees still are in the wrong retirement plan.
If you have not worked for the Federal Government continuously since 1983, or you have had changes in appointment types and retirement plans, then you may want to ask your agency to review your retirement coverage to ensure that it is correct.
Social Security-Only means coverage under Social Security without also being covered under either CSRS or FERS. You would have Social Security-Only coverage if you were hired under an appointment that is excluded from CSRS or FERS.
Usually employees serving under temporary appointments (limited to 1 year or less), intermittent employees, and other appointments that would not be expected to last at least 5 years (such as term and excepted indefinite appointments) are excluded from CSRS.
Employees serving under temporary (limited to 1 year or less) appointments and intermittent employees are generally excluded from FERS.
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.
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.)
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.)
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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