CSRS employees need to understand that their annuities may be reduced–by the decades-old “Catch-62” provision–if they haven’t made a deposit to get credit for their active duty in the armed services.
If you served on active duty after December 31, 1956, and were first employed under CSRS before October 1, 1982, you have a choice. You can either make a deposit to get credit for your active duty service or decide not to make it. Regardless of what you do, you’ll get credit for that time in determining your total years of CSRS service. However, if you 1) don’t make the deposit, 2) retire before age 62, and 3) are eligible for a Social Security benefit at age 62, those years of service will be deducted and your annuity will be recomputed without them. If you retire after age 62, the reduction will occur on the day you retire.
Important note: OPM only checks once: when you reach age 62 if you retired before then or when you retire if it’s on or after age 62. Therefore, if you aren’t eligible for a Social Security benefit at either of those points, your annuity won’t be affected.
If you were first hired under CSRS after September 30, 1982, you’ll only receive credit for any post-1956 military service if you make a deposit to the retirement system.
Your deposit equals a percentage of the basic pay you received for your active-duty service (not including differentials and allowances), plus accrued interest. For service prior to January 1, 1999 and after January 1, 2001 the deposit is 7 percent. For periods of service performed during 1999, it’s 7.25 percent, and during 2000 7.40 percent. The percentages are a half-point higher for special category employees, such as law enforcement officers, firefighters and air traffic controllers.
Unless you made the deposit within two years of the date on which you were first employed under CSRS, interest is added. Before Jan. 1, 1984, the interest rate was 3 percent; after that, a variable interest rate has been charged. Therefore, the longer you wait to make the deposit the more you’ll have to pay.
Fortunately, deposits don’t have to be made in a lump sum. You can make it is amounts as small as $50. However, you’ll have to complete the deposit before you retire. If you don’t, the money you paid will be refunded to you.
If you have any active duty service for which you haven’t made a deposit and want to find out what you’d owe, here’s what you have to do:
First, Complete Retirement Form RI 20-97, Estimated Earnings During Military Service, and mail it to the military finance center for your branch of service, along with a copy of your DD 214, Report of Transfer or Discharge. The finance center will send you an official statement of your earnings.
Then, take that, a copy of your DD 214 and a Standard Form 2803 to your local payroll office and ask them to figure out how much you owe, including accrued interest. If you decide to make the deposit, you can arrange that with them. You can download the RI and Standard Form at www.opm.gov/forms.