Q. I am a CSRS Offset employee who plans to retire when I turn 60, when I will have approximately 21 years and a few months of federal service. I work in the U.S. and have a high-three salary which includes locality pay of approximately 25 percent. If I were to accept a position overseas (I realize the new salary will not include locality pay) at a salary that is lower than my current one, will my high-3 still be based on the high-3 I have already attained? I read several postings on your site and one seems to suggest that if you are working overseas, but return to the U.S. to retire, your annuity will be calculated on the salary that was earned overseas.  Another posting indicated that the high-3 are your highest three years no matter where or when in your career you attained them.

A. Your high-3 is based on your highest three consecutive years of average basic pay, no matter when they occur in your career. Basic pay is the amount from which retirement deductions are taken.


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


  1. To ensure I am understanding, it would be not be a wise decision to take an overseas position since an employee’s base pay would most likely increase their last 3 years with general pay increases. Therefore their high 3 would be achieved overseas and their retirement calculated without the added benefit of locality pay?

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