Q. What does Block 19 on my civilian leave and earnings statement mean? What does that number, which goes up on each LES, tell me? I plan to retire in three years at age 69 with just a few months less than 20 years of federal civil service. I’m an Army civilian.
A. Box 19 is where annual leave is posted. It can contain any or all of the following kinds of information:
• Projected year-end balance
• Maximum carryover
• Use or lose balance
What does RET. DEDUCTIONS THIS APPOINTMENT $23,747.60 mean on the Statement and Earnings Leave?
$23,747.60 has been deducted from your pay during your current appointment in the federal government to cover your contributions to the retirement system.
Known as the “cost basis” in tax accounting circles, I believe. This is the return of principal (your contributions) based on actuarial tables. Also called the exclusion ratio in annuity parlance. Please, somebody straighten me out if I missed anything on this one.
The contributions box simply reports the cumulative amount of money deducted from an employee’s wages. For most employees, their annuity is calculated using a fixed formula: a multiplier, their highest three years of basic pay, and their years and full months of service. When they retire and begin receiving an annuity, the money comes entirely from the contributions they made to the retirement system while employed. Only when that money runs out do they begin receiving the government’s money. Unfortunately, a change in the law has resulted in the taxable portion of a retiree’s annuity being based on actuarial tables, not on the already taxed money they receive.
What is the formula used to calculate RET. DEDUCTIONS THIS APPOINTMENT?
Perhaps other agencies use a different form. The DoD LES block 19 looks like this: “19. Cumulative Retirement FERS.” It then includes a dollar figure.
I realize this is what I have contributed and continue to contribute to the defined portion of my retirement (TSP and Social Security form the other portions) but I don’t know what it means for me after I actually retire. Is there an estimator online somewhere that tells me what it will be worth when I retire in 2021?
There isn’t any online estimator. However, all you need is the formula and an estimate of your “high-3.” In other words, the average of your highest three consecutive years of basic pay. Here’s the formula.
.01 x your “high-3” x your years and full months of service.
Increase the multiplier to .011, if you retire at age 62 or later with at least 20 years of service.
This is the OPM ballpark estimator
I work for the Army and ABC-C has a program to run different scenarios through for how much sick leave you have, insurance kept, tax situation, etc. Works great.
Other agencies probably have something similar on their HR websites.
Thanks for the recommendation.
Sir, I applied for OPM disability retirement and I’m currently on LWOP. Back in April (around the time OPM received my DR application), I noticed the amount in Block 19 dropped from around $8400 to around $60. Is this somehow related to my DR application, and should I be concerned? Thanks.
Yes, it is related to your DR application. Your LES was suspended on the date you went on LWOP. The smaller figure represents the amount accumulated during that final pay period.
Thanks for the quick response! What happens to my earlier FERS contributions?
They’ll entitle you to a disability annuity and, at age 62, to a regular annuity.
You mentioned that leave and earnings statement block 19 (Cumulative Retirement FERS) is the amount contributed “during your current appointment in the federal government.” When I left my federal appointment at DOD (5 years) and joined DOE, block 19 started again at $0.00 with DOE. I asked my HR representative what happened to the 5 years of contributions I had made while at DOD, and she told me, “Don’t worry. Someone is keeping track. This is only for your time at DOE.” I’m very close to my 20 years and am considering retirement. Am I responsible to provide separate paperwork from my DOD and DOE FERS contributions in order to get credit for both appointments? Thanks for your guidance.
No, you aren’t responsible. When you retire, OPM will have all your service records.
On my CIVILIAN LEAVE AND EARNINGS STATEMENT LES, Block 19 has nothing to do with leave. I was told it is a transition fund for when I retire or separate. 1% of every paycheck has been being contributed to this fund for that purpose. Can you clarify? Maybe the Army has a different Block 19, I have been a Civil Service FERS employee in the Air Force for 18 years, and this block has NEVER fluctuated with my leave. I think the first answer is in error.
Please CC my e-mail with your explanation.
The answer I posted on the site came from OPM.