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Frequently Asked Questions Retirement

General

  • CSRS Offset is the Civil Service Retirement System with Social Security Offset. It is the same as CSRS, except that is coordinated with Social Security. CSRS Offset was created in 1987 and generally applies to employees who had a break in Federal service after 1983 that lasted longer than 1 year and had at least 5 years of civilian service as of January 1, 1987. It also applies to employees who were hired into a civilian job before 1984, but did not acquire retirement coverage until after 1984 and had at least 5 years of service as of January 1, 1987. CSRS Offset employees are covered by both CSRS and Social Security. You earn retirement credit under CSRS, while also earning credits under Social Security. When you retire from the Government, your retirement benefit is computed in the same way that CSRS benefits are computed. However, when you become eligible for Social Security benefits (usually at age 62), your CSRS retirement benefit is reduced, or offset, by the value of the Social Security benefit you earned while working for the Government. The amount CSRS Offset employees pay for retirement the same amount that CSRS employees pay, however it is reduced, or offset, by Social Security taxes (6.2 % of pay). Agencies contribute a set amount (7% for most employees) to CSRS Offset. Just like CSRS employees, CSRS Offset employees are also are allowed to participate in the Thrift Savings Plan and currently may contribute up to 6% of basic pay, without a Government contribution.
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  • 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:
    • FERS Basic Benefit
    • Social Security Benefit
    • Thrift Savings Plan Benefit
    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.
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  • 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:
    • You may have an opportunity to choose another retirement plan;
    • You may be reimbursed for certain out-of-pocket expenses you paid as a result of a coverage error;
    • You may benefit from certain changes in the rules about how some of your Government service counts toward retirement; and
    • You may be able to make-up contributions to the Thrift Savings Plan and get lost earnings on those contributions as well.
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  • 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.
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  • 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.
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  • "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.
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  • 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.
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  • No. Whether you are retiring (with a corrected or uncorrected retirement coverage error) or leaving government service, FERCCA has no bearing on your eligibility under the VSIP.
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  • 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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  • As long as your retirement coverage error was in effect for at least 3 years of your Federal service after December 31, 1986, then you may benefit from FERCCA. It does not matter that you have retired or no longer work for the Government.
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