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TSP stands for the Thrift Savings Plan. The TSP is an important benefit designed to help you save for your future. The TSP is comparable to a private-sector tax-deferred 401(k) plan. You can participate in the TSP if you are covered by FERS, CSRS, or CSRS Offset.
The TSP offers all participants:
The TSP is especially important for FERS employees because it is one of three parts of your retirement coverage. Beginning July 1, 2001, FERS employees can contribute as much as 11% of basic pay each pay period, up to the IRS annual limit. (The IRS limit for 2001 is $10,500.) As a FERS employee, you can receive 2 types of agency contributions to your TSP account, which together can equal as much as 5 percent of your basic pay.
CSRS employees do not receive any Government contributions in their TSP accounts. However, CSRS employees can still take advantage of the TSP to provide a source of retirement income in addition to your CSRS retirement benefit. Beginning July 1, 2001, CSRS employees can contribute up to 6% of basic pay each pay period.
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.
Generally, when a retired employee returns to work for the Federal Government under conditions that do not terminate the retirement benefit, the employee should be covered under the same retirement plan he or she had at retirement. Since you retired under CSRS, you should have retained your CSRS coverage upon reemployment. (However, if you received an appointment as a Senior Official, you would be subject to automatic Social Security coverage and your retirement coverage would be CSRS Offset.)
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.
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.
"Transitional retirement coverage" or CSRS Interim is a version of CSRS established pending creation of a new retirement system for employees first hired after December 31, 1983, and certain rehires. Employees covered by CSRS Interim provisions paid OASDI taxes and a reduced CSRS contribution. When FERS became effective on January 1, 1987, employees with CSRS Interim coverage acquired either FERS or CSRS Offset coverage.
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.
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.
It is possible that because of a retirement coverage error, you paid either too much or too little for your military service.
Under FERCCA, if you paid too much, you can receive a refund, plus interest, of any money that you paid over the amount needed to pay for your military service.
Also, if you now owe more for your military service, you can get credit for your military service by taking an actuarial reduction instead of having to pay additional money. If you die before retiring, we will apply the actuarial reduction to your survivor's benefit.
Yes, if you have been in the wrong retirement plan for at least 3 years of service AFTER December 31, 1986.
It does not matter that your agency may have already corrected the error or that you have retired or no longer work for the Government. As long as the error was in effect for at least 3 years of your Federal service after December 31, 1986, then you may benefit from FERCCA.
FERCCA may also affect you if you were put in FERS by mistake and can make, or made, what we call a "deemed FERS election". You don't have to be in FERS for at least 3 years to benefit from FERCCA. See the question, My agency put me in FERS by mistake. When it discovered the error, my agency let me choose whether I wanted to remain in FERS. Do I get another choice under FERCCA? for an explanation.
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