Base pay vs. actual earnings


Q. When the calculations are made for annuity payments, are actual earnings or base pay used in calculations? My base pay is higher than the actual pay in each of the high-3.

A. I believe you misunderstand the meaning of the words “base pay.” Base pay is the amount of pay from which retirement contributions are taken, not the amount you actually receive, nor the figure that is shown on a pay chart that exceeds the amount payable because of a pay cap.


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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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