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Federal employee retirement system (FERS)

The FERS retirement system became effective in 1987, and almost all new Federal civilian employees hired after 1983 are automatically covered by this new system. The retirement system is a three-tiered retirement plan. The three components are:

  • Social Security Benefits
  • Basic Benefits Plan
  • Thrift Savings Plan Benefits

Contributions to the FERS Defined-Benefit Pension

Federal civilian employees under FERS are required to contribute a percentage of salary to receive future benefits from the system’s defined-benefit annuity. The amount of this contribution has changed several times recently, due to changes in Federal law. For Executive Branch employees, these laws only changed the amount of the contribution – the pension system itself is the same as originally implemented in 1987.

  • Employees Hired Before January 1, 2013: Generally, employees already appointed by January 1, 2013, or who completed 5 years of prior service before that date, contribute 0.8 percent of their salary to the pension system.
  • Employees Hired Between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2013: Employees hired during the 2013 calendar year typically contribute 3.1 percent of their salary to the pension system. This higher contribution rate was established under Public Law 112-96, Section 5001, the “Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012.” Called “FERS-Revised Annuity Employees,” or “FERS-RAE,” these individuals are still generally considered part of the same pension system but are uniquely identified in human resources and payroll systems to annotate their higher contribute rate. For additional information, refer to:
  • Employees Hired On or After January 1, 2014: Section 401 of the “Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013,” P.L. 113-67, increased further the retirement system contribution for employees hired on or after January 1, 2014. For new Federal employees covered under this requirement, the contribution rate is generally 4.4 percent (rather than the earlier 0.8 percent or 3.3 percent). Employees that fall under this requirement are called “FERS-Further Revised Annuity Employees,” or “FERS-FRAE.” The pension system is again generally the same, only the contribution rate is changed. As with FERS-RAE employees, human resources and payroll systems use unique identifiers to annotate this higher contribution rate. For additional information, refer to:

Visit the Social Security Administration website to learn more about social security benefits.
Visit OPM FERS website for addition information on retirement benefits.
Visit the TSP website for additional information on thrift savings plan benefits.