Salary excess over pay cap


Q. I am a GS-14, step 10, 1811 law enforcement officer. I work in the national capital region and receive Law Enforcement Availability Pay. My pay exceeds the annual federal pay cap, and approximately $650 per pay period is deducted from the amount of LEAP to bring my gross biweekly pay within mandatory limits.

By law, my high-3 will be calculated using the actual pay an employee receives, the amount from which retirement deductions are taken. This means the excess pay that is withheld is not used in high-3 calculations.

However, what happens to the excess funds that were earned yet withheld? And, since I earned it, will this excess be paid to me after retirement? Or is it just lost forever?

A. Your annuity will be computed based solely on the basic pay you received, the amount from which retirement deductions were taken. If the pay table showed that you should have received more but were barred from receiving it because of the pay cap, those imaginary dollars are lost forever. On the other hand, there is no bar to your receiving other income, such as performance awards or bonuses, which aren’t considered to be part of basic pay.


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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

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