How Much Will CSRS Federal Employees Receive When They Retire?

By on March 8, 2011 in Current Events, Retirement with 48 Comments

Recently, I wrote about retiring under the FERS system for federal employees. (See FERS and Your Future Retirement: How Much Will You Receive After Retirement?)

How about federal employees who are going to retire under the CSRS system?

The Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) started in the 1920s and, although it was “frozen” with the 1984 advent of FERS, as of Dec 31, 2010, there are still 344,136 active CSRS employees. (This does not include those in the postal and intelligence agencies.)

The youngest a current CSRS employee can be is 45. If a federal employee started working for Uncle Sam in 1983 as an eighteen year old, he should be 45 now. So, in effect, the dwindling CSRS cohort will be with us for quite some time.

Keep this in mind when reviewing these figures for those under the CSRS system:

  • CSRS employees receive no annuity supplement;
  • In the Thrift Savings Plan, they receive no automatic 1% of salary and no match at all;
  • Their Social Security benefit is -0-, unless they have sufficient non-government employment to qualify.
  • Also, unlike FERS, when a CSRS employee retires on a VERA (early out), his annuity is reduced 2.0% for each year under age 55.

Below are representative inputs designed to help CSRS employees plan for their retirement. These figures also illustrate some of the differences between the two retirement systems. Select the high-three and years service that are the closest to your personal situation when you retire. The amount shown is the annuity earned for this combination.

CSRS ANNUITY

  <— Years Service —->
High Three 5 20 27 35
$50,000 $3,750 $18,125  $25,125 $33,125
$76,000 $5,700 $27,550 $38,190 $50,350
$105,000 $7,875
$38,062
$52,762 $69,562
$135,000 $10,125 $48,937 $67,837 $89,437

Notes:

  • The  only non-disability annuity for less than 20 years is if employee is 62 or more (i.e., there is no MRA+10).
  • For the first 5 years, employee receives 1.5% of high three per year, for the next 5 years it is 1.75%, and for all other years, the factor is 2.0%.
  • When a CSRS employee resigns and then returns, he is classified “CSRS offset.” This means that 6.2% of his pay is deducted for Social Security and when he retires, his annuity is offset by the amount of his Social Security benefit.
  • CSRS employees have 7% deducted for their annuities.

Thrift Savings

In each column below, there is a range amount displayed. The first figure is the final amount reflecting a 2% average growth rate, compounded annually. The second number is for an assumed growth rate of 13%. It is likely the actual result will fall between these two extremes.

NOTE: unlike FERS, there is no automatic 1% and there is no matching amount — the entire amount in the column at left comes from the employee’s pocket.

TSP Nest Egg

  <— Years Service —->
Bi-weekly Deposit 5  20  27 35
 $20 $2,760 – 3,812 $12,890 – 47,588 $18,750 – 118,068 $26,522 – 321,384
 $175 $10,352 – 14,281 $112,756 – 416,200 $164,035 – 1,032,649 $232,026 – 2,810,831
 $325 $44,855 – 61,879 $209,421 – 772,932 $304,634 – 1,917,754 $430,904 – 5,220,054
 $700 $96,609 – 133,275 $451,058 – 1,664,764 $656,134 – 4,130,515 $928,099 – 11,243,110

Exceptions. The following annuities are not covered in this article:

  •  “Special” category employees, such as law enforcement, fire fighter, and air traffic controllers. These employees can retire earlier at a higher percent of high-three, and pay more into the retirement fund.
  • FERS transfer
  • Congressional annuities. Members of congress pay more into the retirement fund and receive a proportionately higher benefit.
  • Central Intelligence Agency Retirement and Disability Fund, and Department of State.

Detailed, precise calculations for your individual situation are available from the nine calculators at www.fedbens.us.

© 2016 Robert F. Benson. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from Robert F. Benson.

About the Author

Robert Benson served 35 years in various Federal agencies, as both a management analyst and IT specialist. He is a graduate of Northwestern University.

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