The Civil Service Retirement System

The Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) began in 1920 and has given disability, survivor and retirement benefits for the majority of civilian employees in the Federal government until 1987 when the new Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) was created. Nevertheless, over two million people carry on receiving Civil Service Retirement System retirement and survivor benefits every month.

Retirement benefits are presently financed by both Government and employee contributions to the retirement fund, and the benefits are provided based on the duration of service and the average pay over the highest three years of pay.

What are the eligibility requirements for Civil Service Retirement System benefits? An employee is qualified to retire voluntarily if the following provisions are met: at least five years of creditable civilian service; is separated from a position subject to Civil Service Retirement System coverage; is covered by Civil Service Retirement System for at least one year within the two-year period immediately preceding the separation; and meets age/service combinations of age 55 with 30 years of service, or age 60 with 20 years of service, or age 62 with five years of service.

For employees who separate from service and have met the criteria except for the age/service combination may be permitted to a deferred annuity at age sixty-two. To be qualified, the employee must not take a refund of retirement deductions upon separation.

In determining the service which may be used for an employee’s eligibility for retirement under the Civil Service Retirement System, is not restricted to service in positions subject to CSRS retirement deductions, it may also comprise service where the pay of the employee is not subject to retirement deductions, such as under a temporary appointment.

Honorable active military service may also be qualified, subject to conditions: it was executed before the separation date upon which is the basis for entitlement to annuity; it is not comprised in computation of military retired pay except for certain service-connected disability requirements; if the military service was executed after December 31, 1956, some employees will have to create a deposit for the service to receive firstly or for other employees, to retain credit after the age of sixty-two.

Although the service used in determining an employee’s eligibility for retirement is typically the same as creditable service for computation purposes, there are some exceptions: periods of CSRS service refunded, will not be creditable unless a redeposit is made; if the refunded service was executed before October 1, 1990, it will be qualified even if no redeposit is made but the annuity will be actuarially decreased; non-education service is made on or October 1, 1982, is not qualified if a deposit has not been made.

October 1, 1982 prior service is creditable by the annuity will be decreased by ten percent of amount owed; active military service executed after December 31, 1956 is not creditable for employees first employed in a covered position after September 30, 1982 except if a military deposit for the service is made; and unused sick leave is commendable in computing benefits.

Sick leave is changed into days or months of service using the Sick Leave Chart in the OPM operating manual, but it can never be used for eligibility.

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