Federal Employee Retirement Benefits

Congress created the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) in 1986, and it became effective on January 1, 1987. Since that time, new Federal civilian employees who have retirement coverage are covered by FERS. 

FERS is a retirement plan that provides benefits from three different sources: a Basic Benefit Plan, Social Security and the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). Two of the three parts of FERS (Social Security and the TSP) can go with you to your next job if you leave the Federal Government before retirement. The Basic Benefit and Social Security parts of FERS require you to pay your share each pay period. Your agency withholds the cost of the Basic Benefit and Social Security from your pay as payroll deductions. Your agency pays its part too. Then, after you retire, you receive annuity payments each month for the rest of your life. 

The TSP part of FERS is an account that your agency automatically sets up for you. Each pay period your agency deposits into your account amount equal to 1% of the basic pay you earn for the pay period. You can also make your own contributions to your TSP account and your agency will also make a matching contribution. These contributions are tax-deferred. The Thrift Savings Plan is administered by the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board. 

For more information about TSP, see their website (external link). See the SSA website (external link)  for more information about the Social Security portion of your retirement benefit. This website covers the Federal Employees Retirement System. Through the menu links on the left, you can find information about FERS retirement topics.   

Retirement Services FERS INFORMATION @ https://www.opm.gov/retirement-services/fers-information/ 


Health Insurance Benefits

As a Federal employee, you may be able to enroll in health, dental, vision and life insurance, flexible spending accounts, and apply for long term care insurance. You can find information about each program by clicking on one of the links below. Each section includes common questions to help guide you to the information you need.   

Health Benefits @ https://www.opm.gov/healthcare-insurance/Guide-Me/Federal-Employees/ 


Dental and Vision Insurance

Choose from a wide variety of dental and vision plans to meet your needs.  All dental plans have no coinsurance for preventative care and most plans have no waiting periods or age limits for coverage. Vision plans offer excellent coverage for just a few dollars a week and include annual eye exams, breakage warranties, laser correction discounts, and generous allowances for frames. 

Dental & Vision @ https://www.benefeds.com/education-support/dental-vision


Life Insurance

Most federal employees are automatically enrolled in the Federal Employee Group Life Insurance “basic” plan.  This plan provides a payout of one year of your salary. If you are under 35, the benefit payout is doubled at no extra cost.  There are additional options to increase or extend coverage to your spouse or children. The cost is just a few dollars a pay check and is partially supplemented by the federal government.  If you enroll right away, there is no requirement for a medical exam or other limitations on participation.  

Life Insurance @ https://www.opm.gov/healthcare-insurance/life-insura 


Flexible Spending Accounts

Keep More of Your Money.  Most federal employees are eligible to enroll in flexible spending accounts (FSAs) which can be used to pay for many medical and dependent care expenses with pre-tax dollars. Dependent Care FSA can pay for daycare, summer camps, and even compensate non-dependent family members for watching your kids while you are at work. Health Care FSA can be used for big purchases like orthodontics or medical equipment, or smaller items like over-the counter medicines, insurance co-pays and deductibles, and even items like bandages, thermometers, and sunscreen. These programs help you plan for expenses, lower your tax liability and keep more money in your wallet.  

Flexible Spending Accounts @ https://www.fsafeds.com/


Long Term Insurance

 The purpose of long-term care insurance is to cover expenses associated with long-term senior care services and support, whether the care is provided at home or in an assisted living community, skilled nursing facility or other senior care setting. Long-term care insurance policy reimburses you to cover the cost of skilled nursing care; speech, physical and rehabilitation therapy; or services used to assist with activities of daily living. In addition to coverage for yourself, benefits may also be extended to qualified relatives.  

Long Term Care @ https://www.opm.gov/healthcare-insurance/long-term-care/


Pay & Leave

An employee may use annual leave for vacations, rest and relaxation, and personal business or emergencies. An employee has a right to take annual leave, subject to the right of the supervisor to schedule the time at which annual leave may be taken. An employee will receive a lump-sum payment for accumulated and accrued annual leave when he or she separates from Federal service or enters on active duty in the Armed Forces and elects to receive a lump-sum payment

Pay & Leave @ https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/leave-administration/fact-sheets/annual-leave/


Accural Rates

Employee Type

Less than 3 years of service *

3 years but less than 15 years of service *

15 or more years of service *

Full-time employees

½ day (4 hours) for each pay period

¾ day (6 hours) for each pay period, except 1¼ day (10 hours) in last pay period

1 day (8 hours) for each pay period

Part-time employees

1 hour for each 20 hours in a pay status

1 hour for each 13 hours in a pay status

1 hour for each 10 hours in a pay status

Uncommon tours of duty

(4 hours) times (average # of hours per biweekly pay period) divided by 80 = biweekly accrual rate.

(6 hours) times (average # of hours per biweekly pay period) divided by 80 = biweekly accrual rate.**

(8 hours) times (average # of hours per biweekly pay period) divided by 80 = biweekly accrual rate.

SES, Senior Level (SL), and Scientific or Professional (ST) positions, and employees  in equivalent pay  systems, as determined  by OPM

8 hours for each pay period, regardless of years of service. (See Extension of Higher Annual Leave Accrual Rate to SES and SL/ST Equivalent Pay Systems fact sheet)


Leave & Families

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provisions were amended in Title 5, United States Code (U.S.C.) to provide up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave to covered Federal employees in connection with the birth or placement (for adoption or foster care) of a child occurring on or after October 1, 2020  @ https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/leave-administration/fact-sheets/family-and-medical-leave/