Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS)

About the Civil Service Retirement System

The CSRS was created in 1920 to provide a means for civil servants to financially survive post-employment. It was eventually replaced by the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) in 1987. Federal employees hired in 1984 and thereafter were automatically enrolled in FERS. 

CSRS was specifically designed for those who worked in a federal career their entire lives, and unlike FERS that has three retirement-earning components (pension, social security, and Thrift Savings Plan), CSRS only has one: the pension plan. Employees contribute a percentage of their pay that is matched by their employing agency. 

Members covered by CSRS have different retirement scenarios that are primarily based on their age and duration of employment in civil service. Based on these two factors, there are four possible retirement scenarios:

  • Retirement with an immediate, full pension
  • Retirement with an immediate, reduced pension
  • Retirement with a deferred, full pension
  • Retirement with a deferred, reduced pension

*note: There are special requirements for disability-based retirement benefits.

Types of Retirement Under the CSRS

There are five types of retirement according to the CSRS, and each has its own conditions. However, it is important to note that an employee can only be eligible for the benefits of CSRS after five years of full-time service

Disability Retirement

As its name suggests, disability retirement is for federal employees who are unable to continue their service due to a disability. Aside from the indispensable requirement of five-year service, the employee must be able to prove disability through medical records and documentation. 

Optional Retirement

Optional retirement is available to employees who meet the stringent conditions of this system, specifically relating to their length of service or their age. For instance, a civil servant can retire at the age of 55 as long as they have served at least 30 years. A 60-year-old retiree may have at least 20 years of service. Since the minimum length of service is five years, an employee can retire after they reach 62. 

Early Optional Retirement

This option is available for employees who experienced reduction or reorganization in the workforce. One retires under this option after 25 years of service — or 20 if the civil servant is over the age of 50. If the employee retires before the age of 50, their annuity is reduced.

Discontinued Service Retirement (Involuntary) 

Individuals whose employment was terminated due to the removal of their positions based on redundancy can be eligible under this kind of retirement. However, they must have served 20 years if they are at least 50 years old or 25 years for those below that age. Their elimination must not have been caused by delinquency or misconduct. 

Special Provision Retirement

This is made available to particular specialized careers such as nuclear materials couriers, Capitol Police, or Air Traffic Controllers. The latter can retire earlier especially if they have already served 25 years. Others may retire after at least 20 years of service if they are at least 50 years of age.

Computation of Retirement Annuity

The CSRS has straightforward formulas for the computation of a civil servant’s retirement annuity. 

For the first five years of service, the retirement annuity is 1.5% of your annual high-3 average salary. Your high-3 average pay refers to the highest average basic pay you receive during service of three consecutive years.

For the next five years of service, you get 1.75% of your annual high-3 average salary.

Finally, for all your years of service over 10 years, you get 2% of your annual high-3 average salary. This is how you compute your retirement annuity based on your length of service.

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