Receipt of retirement funds indicated on leave and earnings statement

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Q. When do retirees receive the cumulative retirement amount reflected in block 19 of their leave and earnings statement, and in what increments? Isn’t this in addition to the annuity and Thrift Savings Plan amounts retirees will receive?

A. The figure you see on your pay slip is the cumulative amount you have contributed to the retirement system. At retirement, a portion of that amount and the government’s contribution will be returned to you in your monthly annuity payment. To find out the proportions of each and how the federal tax code applies to them, go to www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p721.pdf.

FYI, the only way you could receive a refund of those contributions is to resign from the government before you are eligible to retire. Of course, that would cancel any entitlement you might have to a retirement benefit.

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About Author

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

12 Comments

  1. Sir, I separated from the post office (employed for approximately 2 & 1/2 years) and withdrew my TSP as part of my divorce settlement. I subsequently was hired as Federal employee approximately 7 years later. Do I have the option of paying back the $$ and received credit for retirement.

    • Whether you withdrew your TSP contributions is irrelevant. On the other hand, if you received a refund of your retirement contributions, you could redeposit that money, with accrued interest, and get credit for that period of service.

    • I was employed by the federal government for 10 years in the 1990s, left for other employment, and now work for the federal government again. My current Cumulative Retirement FERS, box 19 balance shows only the small amount since I was rehired. I contacted the Office of Personnel Management to see if I received my Cumulative Retirement FERS, box 19 balance when I left federal employment and OPM replied “We have payroll cards here from your previous federal employment. You did not take a refund.” Should my prior 10 years of Cumulative Retirement FERS, box 19 balance appear on my current leave and earnings statement in box 19? If it should appear on my current statement, what do I need to do to get that amount to appear on my current statement? If the prior Cumulative Retirement FERS, box 19 balance should not be appear on my current statement, how can I be sure I will receive credit for the first 10 year amount when I retire?

      • No, you can’t get it added to your current balance. The two periods of service from which retirement contributions were taken will be merged by OPM when you either resign or retire.

  2. In spite of the answers above, I still don’t understand Block 19 on the DoD Civilian Leave and Earnings Statement. Upon retirement, does this amount come back to me in certain installments until the balance reaches zero? Does it all come at once? Or is this simply a reduced annuity that comes every month for the rest of my life but gets bigger with every payday until I retire?

    I need to know in order to plan my upcoming retirement.

    • Each monthly annuity payment will be made up exclusively of your retirement contributions until that money runs out. After that you’ll be receiving the government’s money. In general, the switch over point will be around 18 months.

  3. I worked for 8 months for my first Federal civilian job. I did not know better to simply request LWOP. My concern is that what I paid into FERS was given back and that this 8 months does not count towards my total years of work. If I want to retire after 20 years of service, will this first 8 months count as creditable service (not just for the SCD for assessing annual leave)?

  4. I resigned and am I am taking a deferred or postponed retirement. And I will not start receiving my Annuity until a year and a half from now when I reach age 60. I have 21 years of federal service. What happens to the cumulative retirement agency money.

    • The portion of your salary that was deducted to pay for your annuity will be the first money you receive in your annuity payments. After that runs out you’ll start receiving the government’s money. Just be aware that a perverse change in the tax code only allows you to exclude a portion of that amount in each tax year. For information about how that amount is determined using actuarial tables, go to http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p721.pdf.

  5. Ive worked for the federal government since 2005, i know the FERS is only at .8%, it just seems like an awfully small number and would be blown through really quick, after that number is gone then what? do the feds pay from then on out or is it just gone and I don’t receive anything more?

    • FERS is a defined benefit plan. In other words, when you retire your contributions will entitle you to a lifelong benefit. The first dollars you receive in your annuity will be the ones you contributed to the retirement fund while you were working. After that, you’ll be receiving the government’s money. Note: Under current federal tax, law only a portion of your annuity will be tax free. That amount will be based on your age at retirement. To find out more about this, go to http://www.irs.gov and download IRS Publication 721.

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