“Is there any way to get the two federal retirement systems — The Federal Employees Retirement System and the Civil Service Retirement System — on the same pay level? I retired under the FERS plan, and it [is not great]. Some of my coworkers are civil servant retirees and they get twice as much as me. I walked the same miles and put in the same time as a USPS carrier. Just ain’t right.”

Reg’s Response

FERS was designed to mirror the best practices of private sector businesses. Unlike CSRS, which had a single defined benefit, FERS has three parts: a defined benefit, which is smaller than that for CSRS, Social Security, and the Thrift Savings Plan. While the first two can be tracked and serve as a base, the third depends in large part on how much an employee invests while working. Employees who maximize their contributions to the TSP can boost their retirement income substantially. Those that don’t may find that their retirement benefits fall short of their needs.

Got a question for the Federal Times expert? Send inquiries to: fedexperts@federaltimes.com.

Reg Jones, a charter member of the senior executive service, is the resident expert on retirement and the federal government at Federal Times. From 1979 until 1995, he served as an assistant director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management handling recruiting and examining, white and blue collar pay, retirement, insurance and other issues. Opinions expressed are his own.

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