I know what time of year it is when I start getting frantic e-mails from employees asking me if they are eligible to retire and, if they are, how they can calculate their annuities. In the past I’ve given them the formulas and signed off, leaving them to figure out the answers with pencil and paper. However, time has marched on and now there are some quicker ways to do all that. They are called retirement calculators. And they can be found on the Internet.

Before I go a step further, I want to let you know that I haven’t run any of them through their paces. However, I’ve had so many good reports from employees that have used them that I thought I’d be safe in giving you the addresses. I only ask one thing in return for sharing them with you. Drop a line to FEDweek.com and let me know how they worked for you.

Here we go:

http://hr.er.usgs.gov/calculators/retire. Designed for the employees of the U.S. Geological Survey, this site is open to other federal employees. Users tell me that it does a good job of estimating the retirement benefits of CSRS, FERS and CSRS Offset employees, including sick leave crediting where appropriate. However, it isn’t useful if you have intermittent or part-time service or if you need to make a deposit or redeposit to the retirement fund.

www.FedCalc.com. According to those who have used this site, it will not only do CSRS, CSRS Offset, and FERS calculations, but it also has calculators for military deposits, TSP savings, and Social Security. On top of that, there is a retirement gap calculator and "a cool timer that counts down to your retirement, and a downloadable retirement income gap calculator." According to one reader, these are the same calculators used by the USDA’s National Finance Center.

www.FedBens.us. Designed on his own time by a federal employee, users report that this site’s software provides both quick and detailed annuity estimates, including high-3 calculations, the effects of the GPO and WEP, where applicable, and the amount of the special retirement supplement for FERS employees. Other programs on the site can be used to compute lump-sum annual leave payments and the tax-exempt portion of an annuity.

As I said earlier, it’s time for you to test drive these programs and report back to me with your findings. I’ll be sure to let the rest of FEDweek’s readers know what you’ve learned.