Part-time service and maximum government pension contribution


Q. My entrance on-duty date is May 1971, and I was reading that employees stop getting the government contribution to their retirement at 41 years one month. Would this apply for part-time employees? If not (being optimistic), would they factor in the part-time years of service and add on the years to equate to this timeline? For example, for someone who worked 10 years at 20 hours a week, deduct five years and continue contribution till the total 41 years one month are completed. Also, is there a ratio of how many retirees elect to take out an insurance policy on their spouse versus opting to pay for the survivor benefit? I find many elect to do the insurance option due to cost savings.

A. The law provides that a CSRS employee can’t receive an annuity based on actual service that exceeds 80 percent of his high-3. That limit is reached when he has worked full time for 41 years and 11 months. The time needed to reach the 80 percent level would be greater for anyone who had part-time service.

As to your second question, no one knows how many retirees elect to take out an insurance policy instead of electing a survivor annuity. However, the number is likely small, since by law a married employee must provide a full survivor annuity for a spouse unless the spouse agrees in writing to a lesser amount or none at all.


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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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