Retirement payments and earnings statement

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Q. I entered civil service Dec. 29, 1984. After contributing to CSRS for two years and accumulating approximately $3,500 in the retirement block of my leave and earnings statement, I got paid one day and the LES reflected about $9 in the retirement block. I went to payroll to inquire as to where the $3,500 already contributed had gone. This was about 1987, so I don’t remember the exact verbiage, but it was something like “You have a long time before you retire. Why are you worrying about that?” The payroll office was not even aware of the new FERS, and of course, all of them were under CSRS, so there was little or no concern about my contributions. Well, that time is nearing for me to draw my FERS retirement, and I still don’t know where the money went. Did I pay two years into someone else’s retirement?

A. Because you were hired after Dec. 31, 1983, you were placed in the CSRS Interim system (full Social Security plus reduced CSRS contributions). Since you didn’t have five years of coverage under CSRS on Jan. 1, 1987, you were automatically converted to FERS. The amount of retirement deductions taken from CSRS Interim pay were the same as those taken from FERS pay; the whole thing was a wash. Why your pay slips said two different things is something about which I can’t speculate.

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