Paying into FERS


Q. As a new employee, I am paying into the Federal Employees Retirement System annuity.

1. Am I required by law to participate into the FERS program, or can I opt out?

2. How does paying into this system benefit me?

3. If I leave the federal government before I retire, will I get my money back?

4. How is this different from Social Security?

A. 1. You are required by law to have retirement deductions taken from your pay. You cannot opt out.

2. If you meet the age and service requirements to retire, you’ll be eligible for an annuity.

3. If you leave the service before being vested in the system (five years), you’ll automatically be given a refund of your retirement contributions. If you leave after being vested, you can either leave your contributions in the retirement fund and later apply for a deferred annuity or receive a refund of your contributions.

4. FERS is a defined benefit system, Social Security isn’t. With the addition of the Thrift Savings Plan, they form the three legs of a retirement system.


About Author

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

Leave A Reply