Retirement calculations


Q: I am a former government employee with more than nine years of service under CSRS and 22 months of military service. When I left the federal government in 1985 I withdrew all of my contributions to CSRS. I am 62 years old and I am now considering getting a federal government job with the hopes of working long enough to get an annuity under CSRS offset. My understanding is that the calculations of your high-3 are based upon three consecutive years of pay. Is this correct? Would I need to work three years to be eligible for an annuity? Or if I only worked one year, would my high-3 be based upon the high three years that I had under my prior government job?

A: A high-3 is based on an employee’s three highest consecutive years of average salary. If you returned to work for one year, your high-3 would be based on that year’s basic pay plus the last two years of your previous federal employment. Note: Unless you redeposited the retirement contributions that were refunded to you, including accrued interest, when you retired your annuity would be actuarially reduced based on the amount you owe and your age.


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  1. I left the federal government in 1986 with almost eight years under CSRS and took all of my contributions out. When I returned to the federal government near the end of 2002, I was told that I could join FERS or join CSRS offset, but that I could only buy back my years under CSRSoffset. I chose CSRS offset. I was charged interest to buy back those years – I had withdrawn about $16,000 and had to repay more than $55,000. For me, it was worth it to buy back those years. I now have more than 16 years totyal and hope to retire later this year after I reach the age of 62. Each additional year in CSRS offset increases the offset that is calculated, so that is a deterrent for putting in more years.

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