Retirement code 'K'


Q: I am a federal firefighter working in a “secondary firefighter” position. My LES shows a FERS retirement code of “K.” What benefits/retirement does this code entail? I also heard that legislation is in the works to increase the mandatory primary  firefighter retirement age from 57 to either 62 or 65? Is there any truth to that?

A: “K” applies to anyone covered by FERS and FICA who will be entitled to regular retirement benefits. Any period of service which is classified as “K” isn’t covered service for law enforcement or firefighter retirement purposes. I don’t pay attention to legislation that is in the works because most bills don’t become law, and those that do seldom have provisions in them that look the way they started out. There are enough real problems to worry about without fretting over those that might be.


About Author

Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to


  1. David Stokes on

    I was first hired as a GS civilian under the FERS program in August 2011 – February 2015. My FERS deduction code was ‘K’. I resigned, had a year gap of service and re-enter the GS under FERS. From Feb 2016 until Jan 2017, my FERS code was listed as “KF” and a higher rate of money was withheld for Retire, FERS (KF). From Jan 2017 until present, my FERS retire code was changed to “F” and my FERS Retire contribution rate lowered to what it had been from Aug 2011 – Feb 2015. However, I received no reimbursement/refund for the hire FERS withholding rate from Feb 2016 – Jan 2017. Is this all correct? Thanks

    • Because you were first hired before 2013, your contribution rate was set at .08 percent (K). You left when you had fewer than 5 years of service. When you returned, your contribution rate was erroneously set at 4.4 percent (KF). When the error was found, it should have been changed to 3.1 percent (KR). Any excess reduction must be returned to you by your agency.

    • Good Day fedexperts,

      I served Active Duty from September 2007 – March 2013.

      I joined the Department of Veterans Affairs as a GS-11, March 2013. On my LES FERS, Retire Code was listed as KR. My SCD date is 10/07/07. I did the military buyback

      Through out the years I got my GS-13 with the VA. Recently, I changed Agencies to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). I received my first LES from the FDA and noticed FERS, Retire Code was listed as K on my LES.

      I am trying to find out if my FERS,Retire code should have been K the whole time or should it be changed back to KR? The difference is the amount I pay in each paycheck .8% vs 4.4% for retirement.

      I just don’t want it to come back and bite me letter down the road if it should be KR when I retire. I have about 25+ years still. Also if it should have be K the whole time, how do I go about getting the extra money back I paid in , ~16K for being coded wrong for these past 7 years.

      Thanks for your help and time.

      • FERS employees hired between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2013, are classified as FERS Revised Annuity Employees (FERS RAE). They pay 3.1% into the federal retirement system instead of the usual .8% of a regular FERS employee. Since you had less than 5 years of civilian service that is potentially creditable under FERS, you were placed in FERS-RAE.

          • I am currently in K not KR. I was in KR when I got hired by the Department of Veterans Affairs in March 2013. When I joined the FDA beginning of November 2020, they coded me as K.

          • Your military service includes 5 years of creditable or potentially creditable civilian service. This is exception 3 to the KR rates. You should have been K from your date of hire. You likely have over contributed to your retirement at your original agency.

  2. Hi, I was in the military for 16.5 years (1992 -2008) and then join USPTO federal civilian service from 2014 – 2018. I am 30% disable veteran(I’m not sure if it matters), but I see a retirement code of FERS (Code KF) with a Retirement SCD of 9/08/2014. What does this retirement date and Code FERS KF mean in my situation?

  3. Greetings – Before joining FDA as a civilian employee in 2013, I was employed as a civilian employee with the USDA for 15 years (1998-2013). It is now 2019, and I have just realized now that my FERS category was moved into the “KR” category. FERS-RAE was established in 2013 and I guess i was accidentally put in this category as a new hire. I have been contributing more than I should be due to being placed in the FERS-RAE category. What are my options here?

    • If you were placed in the wrong retirement category, you need to go to your personnel office, point out the error, and ask to have them work with OPM to have it corrected. If you are right, you would be due a refund for having over-contributed to the retirement fund.

  4. Hello,

    I started working for the federal government in 2016, I had two transfers with no break I service since then. Recently, I was informed that my first job erroneously coded me as KF, the second job continued to use KF. With my current job, they notice the error and informed me I should’ve been placed/moved to KR.

    What does this mean in my situation?

    • I don’t know hat it means in you case. However, I can provide you with the official definitions of those two categories:

      KF: Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) Further Revised Annuity Employees (FRAE) and FICA. Combination of FICA and FERS-FRAE. Full deductions are withheld for FICA, and partial deductions are withheld for another system. FERS (FRAE) FICA.

      KR: Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) Revised Annuity Employees (RAE) and FICA. Combinations of FICA and Partial Deductions: Full deductions are withheld for FICA, and partial deductions are withheld for another system. When the employee’s basic pay exceeds the maximum FICA wage base and is no longer subject to FICA withholding, full deductions are withheld for CSRS, CSRS-Special, FSRDS, or Other Retirement Systems.

  5. Lucky, Maybe on

    Hello, I started my Federal career under a 12(d) primary covered position in 2011. I recently left that position due to family issues, and transferred directly to a regular non-LEO/non-FF job in another agency, but my SF-50 still has code M for LEO/FF retirement, and my last pay statement has a FERS deduction for the appropriate higher rate to match a covered position.

    My question is…..if they never catch it, will I still eventually be entitled to a full covered retirement? Does someone audit all your SF-50s and payroll when you file to retire? If they catch it, can they retroactively undo the time that I was listed as code M coverage for the non-LEO/non-FF job I currently hold?

    • They will catch it eventually, so your best move is to let your personnel office know about the error now.

  6. Timothy Marshall on

    Coming Back to Service,

    I left the Federal 29 years ago after completing 2 year 6 months 16 days, I was a FERS k Plan GS 081 series. When I left for other employment I received retirement deductions withheld during federal time and refunded small cash amount. I currently have a offer to return to the federal service in same series, my questions are:

    1. Can I buy back this time for credit? and will interest be charged if I pay cash lump sum (07/30/89 – 02/21/92 service dates).

    2. I also have 4 years military service time which I did not buy back at time of federal employee and wish do so at time of hire, will I be able buy and will interest be paid of this if paid in full as cash lump sum. (02/85 – 02/89 service dates) .

    thanks in advance

    • In answer to both question, no interest will be charged if you complete the make the full deposits within two years minus one day from the day you are reemployed by the federal government.

  7. Hi, I am currently a federal employee hired in 2015. My retirement code is KF, though calculating how much I am paying doesn’t come out to the 4.4% that is stated that we are suppose to be paying. The portion that is deducted runs between 2.5% and 2.8% per pay period. Is there anything wrong with this and will I eventually see a big deduction from a paycheck?

    • The best way to find out why less money than expected is being deducted from your pay is to check with your payroll office.

  8. I started my federal retirement with 3 years in BOP (federal law enforcement) was vested and transferred without a break in service to VA for 16 years. When will I be eligible to retire ?

    • You will be eligible to retire under the standard set of rules:
      – Age 62 with 5 years of service
      – Age 60 with 20 years of service
      – At your minimum retirement age (MRA) with 30 years of service

      You would also be able to retire at your MRA with at least 10 but fewer than 30 years of service; however, your annuity would be reduced by 5 percent for every year (5/12ths of 1 percent) that you were under age 62.

  9. Little red corvette on


    I have been a fed since 2010. I took a promotion and moved from location Base X to Base Y summer of 2020 and remained in the same command without a break. I was paying 0.80% in to my (FERS) retirement code “N” and after the move I am being charged 4.4 under (FERS-FRAE) retirement code “KF”. Is that correct? I am no longer a ART so I would believe the retirement code would have changed to retirement code “K” charging the same 0.80%.

    • The 4.4 percent contribution rate only applies to employees who are first hired after January 1, 2014 or employees who are rehired after a break in service and have fewer that 5 years of covered service when they return. Neither of those situations apply to you. Therefore you were placed in the wrong retirement category and are entitled to a refund of those excess contributions.

  10. Hello I am a firefighter who was coded as a M for my retirement . I caught the mistake and it has been changed to the correct code of MF. Now I have received a debt letter for the amount that was suppose to be taken out of my paychecks for the correct code from the time I started. Is there any way to contest this as seeing this was someone else’s mistake?

    • Yes, you can contest it. You need to write to the same office that sent you the letter explaining your reasons why the debt should be forgiven. If it would be a burden for you to live if you had to repay that amount, tell them about that. too.

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