The Federal Employees' Retirement System (FERS)
FERS is a three-tiered system that includes: a Basic Benefit, Social Security and the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP).
The Basic Benefit
Basic Benefit (External site) is a defined benefit retirement plan which means the law specifies what a retiree's benefits will be and authorizes these payments from federal funds. After an employee retires, they will receive a monthly retirement check from the Civil Service Retirement & Disability Fund for life.
Some FERS retirees will also receive the FERS Annuity Supplement. The purpose of the supplement is to substitute for Social Security benefits until age 62. The supplement is an estimate of the amount of Social Security benefits earned during the employee's FERS civilian service. The annuity supplement is payable until the month prior to age 62.
The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)
Thrift Savings Plan (External site) is a retirement savings and investment plan for Federal employees. Employees have the option to make two different types of contributions, Tradition and Roth. Traditional (pre-tax) contributions are for tax-deferred retirement savings, and Roth (after-tax) contributions are tax-free retirement savings.
FERS eligible employees may contribute up to the IRS elective deferral limit. You will automatically receive an agency contribution of 1% of your basic pay each pay period, whether or not you elect to make TSP contributions. Matching agency contributions apply to the first 5% of pay, each pay period that you contribute. Your contributions are matched dollar for dollar for the first 3% of your basic pay and 50 cents on the dollar for the next 2% of your basic pay. There are no matching contributions on any contributions you make over 5% of your basic pay. Agency automatic (1%) contributions and matching contributions are always part of your Traditional (non-Roth) balance, including their earnings.
Participants who are age 50 and older are able to make "catch-up" contributions to the TSP. These contributions are in addition to the IRS elective deferral limit. TSP contributions can be changed through the
GRB Platform (External site).
Additional information may be found in the TSP booklet,
Summary of the Thrift Savings Plan (External site).
FERS Eligibility & Computation
To be eligible for a FERS retirement, you must have performed at least five years of creditable civilian service, separate from a FERS-covered position, and meet certain age and length of service requirements.
The amount of your annuity is based on two factors:
- Your length of service
- Your high-3 average salary
All periods of creditable civilian and military service, plus your unused sick leave, are totaled and used to determine your length of service for annuity computation purposes. Your high-3 average salary is the largest annual rate resulting from averaging your rates of pay in effect over any 3 consecutive years of creditable civilian service, with each rate weighted by the length of time it was in effect.
Your annuity will be computed using one of the following formulas:
- If you are under age 62, or over age 62 with less than 20 years of service:
= [1%] x [high-3 average salary] x [years of creditable service]
- If you are age 62 or older and have at least 20 years of service
= [1.1%] x [high-3 average salary] x [years and months of creditable service]