Most new employees hired after December 31, 1983, are automatically covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS). The exceptions are employees in appointments that are limited to 1 year or less, most intermittent employees, anyone who is not eligible for Social Security coverage, or certain persons with non-Federal service which is creditable under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS).
Rehires and Conversions
The general rules on whether you are covered by CSRS, CSRS Offset, or FERS after a break in service or conversion from one type of appointment to another are stated below. Just how those rules apply to you must be determined by your personnel office.
If you leave Federal Government service and return within 1 year and you were previously covered under CSRS (without Social Security), then you will generally be covered by CSRS upon reemployment. However, you may elect within 6 months of reemployment to transfer to FERS, in which case you will also be covered by Social Security.
If you leave Federal Government service and return after more than 1 year and you were previously covered under CSRS, then you are automatically covered by Social Security and:
- If you have less than 5 years under CSRS, you are automatically covered by FERS.
- If you have 5 or more years under CSRS, you are covered by CSRS Offset. Your CSRS contributions are reduced by 100% of your Social Security Old-Age, Survivor Disability Insurance (OASDI) fund taxes. Your CSRS benefit will be offset by any Social Security benefit attributable to your Federal service.
In determining whether you have 5 years of service which is creditable under CSRS, count all civilian service as of your last separation from service, even though it may not have been covered by CSRS deductions, or you may have received a refund of CSRS deductions. You will receive credit for your CSRS service if you make any payments for your past service that may be required.
Even if you were never covered by CSRS, you are eligible for CSRS Offset Coverage if you had 5 years of creditable civilian service before January 1, 1987.
If you are rehired under CSRS or CSRS Offset, you may elect to transfer to FERS within 6 months of reemployment. If you elect to transfer to FERS, the following rules apply.
- Your credit in CSRS is frozen, but your combined CSRS and FERS annuity will be based on the average of your highest 3 consecutive years of pay.
- You will receive a full Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) cost of living adjustment on the CSRS portion of your annuity.
- Your service after the date of transfer is treated under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) rules. (If you were under CSRS Offset, your offset service is also treated under rules.) In addition, all of your service is treated under FERS rules if you have less than 5 years of non-Offset CSRS service when you transfer.
- All service (CSRS and FERS) counts toward years needed to be eligible for retirement, disability, survivor, and Thrift Savings Plan benefits under FERS.
- All survivor and disability benefits are paid under FERS rules.
- Unused sick leave is credited under CSRS rules based on the amount accumulated at the date of transfer or date of retirement, whichever is lower.
- You have Social Security coverage when you enroll in FERS.
- You will receive Government contributions to your TSP account and avoid the 6-12 month waiting period for participation.
If you are converted from an appointment that is excluded from FERS coverage to an appointment that is not excluded, generally you will automatically be covered by FERS. If you are not automatically covered by the plan, you will have a 6-month opportunity to transfer to it.